Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive 1

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Old text from June 2001

Are you sure he wrote novels? I thought I remembered reading something about him explaining that the novel was an unsuitable medium? But maybe my memory is not what it once was. I had forgotten about his poetry. sjc


I agree - short stories, the Universal History of Infamy, poetry and discussions on literature, theology and metaphysics, but no novels, I'm sure. Malcolm Farmer

I've removed novels. sjc

Borges in the Modern and Postmodern Context (linked)

Because the article length exceeded 32kb, this text was moved here from the main body for further discussion. Feel free to "mine" it for content for the article:

I've mined this for the articles George Herbert, Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, and The Book of Sand. I doubt there is much of value that has not been taken, but a devotee of Derrida might disagree. -- Jmabel 08:19, 2 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Current questions

Current question: ``Borges as Argentine and as World Citizen

That was a title this section received when it was first segrgated from the amorphous postmodern thingus we all started with. (It's two separate sections now.) Bottom line for me is that the section(s) did not and still don't reflect the thinking Borges clearly expressed about this matter in "Our Poor Individualism" and elsewhere. Goes back and forth between POVs that he was worldly vs. a product of his time and place, never really goes much of anywhere, then peters out. No criticism intended, my fault as much as anyone's. What should it be, people? Borges contended with the question of what it means to be Argentine. He advised that Argentina's literary identity must be to look to the entire world from the vantage point of an unfinished Argentina--not limit the scope of attention to Hispanic matters, let alone to the Southern Cone, and certainly not to "local color". The page doesn't doesn't reflect that view, nor critique it. Consider also that the "accusation" that he was a Jew probably conveyed in code to racists the smear that he was not a true Argentine. Whereas the original page seemed to me to paint Borges as hopelessly Eurocentric. Because I don't really understand all the prejudices involved, I'm not sure how to rise above them; If I fix it, it risks being insensitive to inter-American rivalries that sometimes portray Argentina itself, favorably or unfavorably, as distinctly Europhile. Borges did strive to rise above ethnicity and there is much to say for his efforts--but at the same time the scope of his attention was filtered--it is true that he didn't spend much research effort on indigenous cultures; and The Book of Imaginary Beings betrays that the fantastic creatures of Chinese lore escaped his pen; and he may have expressed occasional Francophobia. I'm not trying to be petty--he probably knew more literatures and cultures than anybody you or I know; and who knows what languages he would have learned had he escaped blindness--but is there a way to split the difference between the characatures of Borges as (imperfectly) worldly versus Borges the (hoplessly, myopically) Argentine? Be that as it may these two roles--Argentine, and World Citizen--cannot be separated and neither can two subsections convey anything but our ignorance. I hereby threaten to fix it unless someone who's actually qualified steps up to the plate.

-munge, 10 March 2004

Well, you may not be ideally qualified, but I don't think any of us are. Judging by the preceding paragraph, you are clearly clueful & have some idea where to take tht part of the article. When I did my major rewrite, I wasn't really focused on this "grand statement" sort of stuff, just ground-clearing and basic facts, but I wholly agree that these grand statements belong here, especially if decently sourced with examples. -- Jmabel 16:45, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Current question: "compadrito" vs. "matrero"

I'm trying to sort out "compadrito" vs. "matrero". Obviously both suggest tough guys in an early 20th century Argentine context, but I get the sense that Borges may have used "compadrito" to suggest a harder-core group than the word really meant in the context of his time. I think Borges may have exaggerated and romanticized the dangers of the Buenos Aires underworld on the distant edges of his rather bourgeois youth, and earlier authors of this article have blindly followed. The article as it stands suggests that "compadritos" were necessarily knife-fighters. I get the sense that you could have been considered a "compadrito" just by dressing like one, talking like one, etc. It no more implied actually being a fighter than wearing hip-hop styles today implies being a gangbanger. A "matrero": now that would definitely be a tough guy. Martín Fierro was clearly a "matrero", but I think it would be almost laughable to call him a "compadrito", sort of like calling Al Capone a "goodfella." But I'm a norteamericano, and my not-quite-fluent Spanish is a mix of school Spanish, visits to Spain (and not to Argentina), and a lot of reading. I'm nothing like expert on the connotations of century-old Argentine slang. Anyone else able to help me out here? (I know the odds aren't great...) Jmabel 04:54, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Compadrito

The word compadrito refers to a stereotyped form of a Latin Argentine male in the beginning of the XX century. They enjoyed tango and used to duel over a woman. Moriel 08:08, 19 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Certainly that is the stereotype. Are you saying that a person would not be called a compadrito unless he was actually, to use 1950s English, "ready to rumble"? And would you agree that it's pretty silly to call Martín Fierro a "compadrito", for the reasons I outlined above? Jmabel 17:33, 19 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I would certainly agree with you :) Martín Fierro was a different type of a tough guy, they were gauchos, from the pampas (open fields), horse-riders. Not very romantic, practical wise people. Compadritos were people from the cities, "romantic gangsters" that were looking for a motive to die. Moriel 04:56, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)
In Argentine literature and regional Spanish, a matrero is a gaucho that kills and steals. This is a country character, never lives in the cities. In fact, although he is a criollo, he lives almost like indigenous people, only that he lives alone. You can read a nice description -in Spanish- in Sarmiento's Facundo]. In the 2nd chapter there is a section called "El Gaucho Malo". This is classic of Argentine literature, which influenced Borges a lot.
On the other hand, compadritos are always characters of Buenos Aires' outskirts, the arrabal. This is a frontier region, neither city, neither country. Therefore, compadritos have both urban and rural characteristics. JorgeLuis 03:12, 26 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Current question: did Borges have Jewish ancestry?

Resolved

This one is no longer "current." Viajero removed "Jewish" from the article (which he had introduced), so I gather we are now in agreement that Borges did not have Jewish ancestry. Jmabel 23:28, 28 Nov 2003 (UTC)

The question

Viajero, good work on the "Life". I'll add a little more, but this is really shaping up as an article. One thing, though, I think is actively wrong. Where do you get the claim that Borges was, in any degree, Jewish? He was accused in 1934 of being a Jew by the quasi-fascist (or maybe outright fascist) magazine Crisol. He chose to respond with his short essay "Yo, judío," which plays with the possibility of his being partly Jewish, but clearly comes down to saying that he isn't.

To make this easiest for anyone else monitoring this page to follow, I'll quote from an English translation here, Karen Stolley's translation in Borges, a Reader (1981):

"Who has not played at searching for his ancestors...? ...it has not displeased me to imagine myself often as a Jew... The journal Crisol, in its January 30 issue, chose to salute this retrospective hope..."

After a long paragraph discussing his ancestry, and failing to find a Jew, he concludes,

"I am grateful to Crisol for having impelled me to pursue these invstigations, but I have less and less hope of ever ascending to the Altar of the Temple, to the Bronze Sea, to Heine... to Ecclesiastes, and Charlie Chaplin."

There's more to the essay, which is both concise and playful - in short, Borgesian - but the point is that he would have welcomed Jewish ancestry, but didn't believe he had any. Are you going by something more solid that contradicts this, or just rumor? Jmabel 20:33, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Current questions relating to list of works

I'm very suspicious of some of the publication dates in the section "Collections in English." They seem to be a hodgepodge of dates of original Spanish-language publication, dates of translation, and god knows what else. I've started on a solid annotated list of Spanish-language book-length publication, and I'm planning to indicate English-language translations where they exist; I figure on adding accurate information about dates of translation as I gather it. If anyone knows a good source for an English-language Borges bibliography, please let me know (or start inserting the information yourself: if you do that, I'd appreciate a note here). I'll continue within days on the project of adding to the list I've started. I'd appreciate if I'm allowed to follow through that task, although if anyone can give further brief annotation (ISBN numbers, English-language translation info) to what's already there, please go ahead. Jmabel 07:03, 19 Nov 2003 (UTC)

For list of works: the list of works (related to the Premio Cervantes) at http://usuarios.lycos.es/precervantes/bibliografia/borges.html definitely has some errors. For example, there is a novel by his father on the list, some misspelled titles, dates (supposedly of works) that actually apply only to like an artist's illustrated limited edition of 30 copies of a poem already published elsewhere, etc. (& I do mean etc.). Clearly the list was not assembled by someone who know Borges's work well. However, there are a few intriguing entries that I'm wondering if relates to acutal books I've just never encountered:

  • Macedonio Fernández (1961)
    • Fernandez was something of a mentor to Borges, and I know Borges wrote a short eulogy at the time of his death, but I'm unaware of a book by Borges on Fernández. Does anyone know anything solid?
  • Borges: sus mejores páginas (1970)
    • Is there such a book? If so, is it anything more than some minor anthology?
  • Borges para niños (1988)
    • The only other references to this on the web seem to derive from this list. Is there such a book?

Jmabel 23 Nov 2003


Where do we want to take this article?

Most of the discussion which follows is probably still relevant looking forward; other parts refer to work that has already been done. Jmabel 07:09, 28 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Borges' life story fills a longish autobiographical essay available in the Dutton edition of The Aleph. His critique of the craft of biography is specified in his essay "On William Beckford's Vathek" (essays cited here are in Selected Non Fictions and/or Other Inquisitions)

Before the big fix, this page had a shallow treatment of race, nationality, and postmodernism, now deleted or moved. If anyone wants to revisit those subjects, notably "Two Books" traces a common thread of racism running through Nazi, Allied, and Communist movements; See also "The Argentine Writer and Tradition" , "Our Poor Individuality", "I a Jew", remarks on Carlyle, his WWII-themed fiction...the sheer number of different cultures he admired and studied. However, I don't claim JLB is pristine on issues of race and nationality.

If someone who really knows the postmodern canon cares to, one could give us an account of Borges' relationship, if any, with 20th century European criticism, Again, the earlier entry omitted to account for JLB's remarks about biography in his essay on "Vathek", "On the Nothingness of Personality", "Narrative Art and Magic", lectures on Buddhism, remarks about translation, his translations into Spanish...these would seem to refute any easy answers about his relationship with all things postmodern and also might help in understanding his actual influence on later writers.

(I wrote comments similar to the above a few months ago and I've edited them to reflect the state of the page & discussion as of now. Thanks esp. to JMabel and Viajero for the improvements, and for even keeping one or two sentences I had written. -munge, 24 Dec 2003)

I would agree and go further to say that this whole page seems like it's a) badly POV, and b) a load of bad literary interpretation that doesn't belong on an encyclopedia page. It reminds me of cut & paste paragraphs from someone's thesis: what we want is a solid and clear introduction to the man and his writing. I'm not sure I have the energy to fix it, but if no one else does I'll take a go... Brassratgirl 18:55, 14 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Jmabel 02:16, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC) The article is really rather a mess, isn't it? Rather than leap in & make big edits, I'd like to get a bit of a discussion going first:

  1. There ought to be a section which is just a factual chronology of his life.
  2. The big hunk of questionable literary criticism under the heading "Borges in the Modern and Postmodern Context": To be honest, I haven't tried full digesting it yet. On a quick read, I'm not impressed, but I'm not necessarily inclined to delete anything, just work around it. We can leave it where it is and add new sections as if it weren't there. On the other hand, if anyone feels they grasp it well enough to summarize it, it could do well with a first paragraph more like an abstract, and some sectioning within. And what's with the first person singular?
  3. "Borges as Argentine and as World Citizen" is good, but light. Yes, as was anonymously remarked above, there is much to be said on race, probably even more on his career & on Argentine politics. Discussion of race should certainly include reference to his wonderful, 1-page Yo, judío 1934.
  4. Why is the list of works entirely focused on English translations? Are we assuming monolingual readers? I'd want to add Spanish-language titles (and original publication dates) for the stories. I'm guessing it would also be useful to add 1-paragraph capsules of some of the more important stories (with spoiler warnings for the likes of "Death and the Compass" and "Garden of Forking Paths").
  5. Are there any criteria at all for what stories are listed? I find it odd, for example, to include every single story from the "Universal History of Infamy" but none of the "forgeries", and how could we be leaving out "Garden of Forking Paths": among other things, it's rather widely taught in US high school Spanish classes, so it's many Americans' first introduction to Borges, and a damn good one at that. And what about films based on or about Borges?

But before I start on any of this, I'd appreciate someone else's priorities being expressed, too.

(END) Jmabel 02:16, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)

So we stuck the pomo essay on a talk page of its own...

Hi, I haven't contributed to this page, but it is one I've been watching. I agree, this article needs lots of work. My first priority would be the biographical section. Thereafter I would move "Borges in the Modern and Postmodern Context" to this Talk page or even a subpage since it is so huge, ie Talk:Jorge_Luis_Borge/JLB and PoMo. From there, you can fish out what ever bits look salvageable. As for the bibliographic listings, I would say: modify and expand as you see fit, Spanish titles are fine. Book titles (and publication dates) probably don't need to be Wikilinks, unless you plan to write up a separate article on every given title in the near future. As a general final suggestion, if you encounter a piece of text you have your doubts about, the safest strategy would be to move it here with a brief comment so that the author and/or subsequent readers will understand your motivations. In other words, be bold but leave a trail! Buena suerte! -- Viajero 10:29, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I've done some searching through the page history, and it looks like the massive pomo essay got in here June 20, 2003 when User:Hephaestos merged in a bunch of content from a separate article entitled J.L. Borges. That article is gone, so as far as I know there is no way to even work out who wrote this stuff (some more experienced wikipedian may know how to do this). I'd really feel more comfortable clobbering this if we had consensus from the author.
That said, I'm all for the Viajero's idea: move it to a talk page of its own & mine it for content.
I'd really like to hear from a few more people before I'd consider that consensus for such a large change. Jmabel 05:29, 19 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I've been heavily waling on the article (and User:Viajero has been in there, too). I believe we're close to finished with the "ground-clearing", although there is still plenty of "construction work" ahead. Jmabel 07:38, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Hi again Joe, I know you are hoping to hear from someone else (!) but in the meantime...
If you go to J. L. Borges you will see that it is now a redirect to this article. Click Page history, and you will see that a user name User:CP James wrote the stuff (with some edits by others). A look at his/her contributions indicates he/she last contributed on 7 June, so...
As a general rule in Wikipedia, there is no single author associated with an article and one has to accept that others will edit one's texts; obviously, however, people take a personal interest in what they have written. In this case, I would guess the text was written for other purposes and "donated" here. It is not really "encyclopedic". However, if the author does materialize some day and you've left a trail of your actions, there shouldn't be any problem. In the unlikely case that an author insists such a text be restored, we can always accomodate him/her by creating a 2nd article (ie, "JLB & PoMo") and linking it to the main one. (Even in that case, I would want to see the text heavily edited for clarity!)
By all means wait for more feedback, but you may not get it; there are very few people working on topics like this here. A fair number of people have edited the article, but there may only be one or two "watching" it. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate... -- Viajero 10:45, 19 Nov 2003 (UTC)
PS, I just noticed that article was already >32kb, so I moved the section out and put a link to it at the top of this page. Is it clear what I have done? -- Viajero

... and began working on this in earnest

Jmabel, a quick tip apropos of Adolfo Bios Casares: it is customary in the Wikipedia only to link the first occurrence of a term. Keep up the good work! -- Viajero 23:02, 22 Nov 2003 (UTC) That's Bioy Casares and I'm aware of the general practice. You're right, might as well stick to it here, I was just thinking of that as a convenient way to highlight his most frequent collaborator. Jmabel 07:43, 23 Nov 2003 (UTC)


Jmabel: Good work so far! IMO, the article still urgently needs a simple, straightforward summary of biographical details. To give you a gentle nudge in this direction (!), I collected some random bits from the article in a new section at the top called Life, which is still woefully incomplete. If I have time later, I will lend you a hand with this part. Carry on! -- Viajero 13:01, 26 Nov 2003 (UTC)

  • Thanks, but I may leave it more to someone else to sort out that part. At least for now, I'm more focused on the work than the life.Jmabel 04:54, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I removed the following passage from the article because I think the statement about Borges is trivial: someone just seems to be showing of his (OK, I presume the gender) erudition. I can only assume it is lifted from a student paper. Jmabel 07:26, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)

During this period — 1916 in fact — the founding work of modern structural linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure's posthumous Course in General Linguistics, was first published. There is no suggestion that Borges was familiar with this work, although it is manifestly the case that in his story 'Funes, the Memorious', first published in the collection Ficciones in 1944, Borges proposes his own version of language as a system of signs and significations.

Assessing the state of the article late Nov '03

We've come a long way in the last couple of weeks. Obviously, nothing in a Wikipedia article is ever finished, but I would say that several sections of this are at least solid.

  • Life - Certainly could have more added to it, but it's basically sound. Probably could use more on his sister Norah, especially because they colloborated on volumes (she illustrated). [I fleshed out the Life considerably; could still use more on Norah - Jmabel 08:20, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)]
    • We should at least consider seriously the suggestion above that "Borges life story might be served if contributors are already familiar with his longish autobiographical essay, and with his ideas about biography as specified in his essay 'On William Beckford's Vathek'." I'm not sure how much relvance Borges's theories on biography should infulence our approach to his biography, but I do think they may merit a section in their own right (as would his views on race and ethnicity).
  • Work - A solid introduction to Borges's work. It could do with extended sections on various aspects of his work, but it's at least a solid overview.
  • Borges as Argentine - This is a bit cursory, and contains some material that might belong elsewhere (like in an article on Argentine history; also, we should start an article gaucho), but it's a start.
  • Borges as world citizen - Little more than a stub.
  • Works: Quotations - So far there is only one, but it is sure representative!
  • Works: Original Book-length Publications, Book-length interviews in English, Other works of note, Screenplays - These are pretty solid. Could use more ISBNs, and I suspect that many of these books have English language translations that merit mention and indication of English-language publication date. I suspect that there are also more posthumously published works worth mentioning.
  • Works: Collections in English - Less well researched. I believe some of the dates here are translation dates while others are of Spanish-language publication. I'd like to get all of the ones that are simply translations of entire Spanish-language books into Original Book-length Publications and retitle the rest "Other English-language collections."
    • Done. -- Jmabel 02:09, 6 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  • Works: Short Stories: This is an almost-random hodgepodge and should be revisited.
  • Works: Quasi-Fiction: An arbitrary and ill-defined category. I think the topic of Borges's blending of fictional and non-fictional forms deserves an extended discussion rather than a list of four works.
  • External links and references: To my knowledge, these are the two best. Does anyone have anything else they think belongs here?
  • I think we also will want to start sections on various aspects of Borges's ideas, as represented in his writing. Some of these may be more a matter of adding material on Borges to other articles and referencing them here. Among the topics could be:
    • Borges's views on epistemology, philosophical idealism, and personal identity
    • Borges's views on infinity
    • Borges's views on translation
    • Borges's views on biography
    • Borges's views on race and ethnicity
    • Genre writing (detective fiction, fantasy, science fiction)
    • Influence of Borges on other writers and thinkers

Jmabel 00:05, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

    • Should add a filmography, too. Jmabel 08:20, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Split it?

The article is past the 32K line. Should we split it up? Any good editorial ideas on what to split out? Jmabel 08:20, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Time to archive some of the talk? (apparently not...)

Is it time to archive (to a separate talk page) the parts of this discussion that don't imply current open issues? If no one says otherwise by Dec 1, 2003, then I will do so shortly after that date. Jmabel 07:38, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)

As rule of thumb, we archive Talk pages when they grow larger than 32Kb (because some browsers can't edit taxt files > 32Kb). While there is no explicit prohibition against doing it sooner, it is generally considered beneficial to leave the Talk pages as is until this point because it is very useful for potential contributors new to the article to be able to catch up with a quick glance on the previous discussions -- current issues or otherwise. BTW: as you may have noticed, the editor window will warn you when the page >= 30Kb. -- Viajero 11:52, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)

...but it is reorganized

OK, what if I just reorganize to bring the live issues to the top? Jmabel 20:06, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I am taking the liberty to do just that. Hope no one minds. Jmabel 07:09, 28 Nov 2003 (UTC)

20 Feb 04, edits

User:Sir Paul has made an extensive recent edit with some of which I disagree, and has announced his intention of further editing the article. Paul, can we please have a discussion here on the talk page instead of an edit war? I'll start listing my issues pretty much immediately (although I have to break for dinner soon, and may not get to finish right now, but can we please do this cooperatively instead of making a contentious mess of this? Thanks in advance. -- Jmabel 23:51, 20 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Sure. Sir Paul 00:12, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)

Thanks. Really. You've added some good material, but you've made what seem to me to be really weird cuts. Here's the start of my list; I'm still looking through. It's a little hard, because your changes were large enough to exceed wikipedia's ability to produce a good "diff"; if I've mischaracterized anything you changed, please just say so.

  • Why cut "Sometimes referred to by his initials, "JLB" "? Seems to me that this is very similar to what we do at Franklin Delano Roosevelt: if a person is often referred to by his initials (which Borges is) this belongs in the intro.
I have never read or heard anyone refer to Borges in such a way. Maybe it is common among English-speaking circles, but my (limited) knowledge of Borgesian material in that language tells me otherwise. It seemed to me that the JLB was mostly a conjecture; I'd be glad to change my mind (and the relevant text) if is not [- Sir Paul]
This was, among other things, Borges's own routine way of signing things (starting, I believe, at a young age to distinguish himself from his father, but I have no references for that). For example, he almost always ends prologues with his initials and the place and date. See, for example, (I happen to have these in arm's reach as I write) the prologues of El informe de Brodie, El libro de Seres Imaginarios, and Historia de la eternidad. A Google search on "JLB" and "Borges" together gives 859 hits. Actually, my point is better proved by a search on "JLB" and "Argentina". They are about 50% references to him. If this isn't enough, I can follow up with more research: this is the 8-minute version. -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I am aware that he signed his books in such a fashion, but to me that's simply the result of his following a convention: it's very common for people to replace their names with their initials in contexts where the actual name is supposed to be known by everyone. That sometimes happens in newspapers, and often in literary supplements (when the reviewer reviews more than one book) and in book prefaces. Recall, also, that in his works written with Bioy Casares, María Kodama et al all signed with their initials. I think it is clear that it would be wrong to say of all of them that they were sometimes "referred to by [substitute name for initials]" Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
I guess this one is no big deal either way, but given what I've said above about the google results (which you can verify easily for yourself) do you really think this doesn't belong in the article? -- Jmabel 03:01, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)
A Google search for "Jorge Luis Borges" gives 175,000; adding Borges gives 558. That's a factor of .0032. Equivalent searches for Adolfo Bioy Casares (.024), Manuel Mujica Láinez (.0026), Gabriel García Márquez (.003) and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (.002) do not suggest there's something special about JLB. (I used these authors because they were the first three-word writers that came to my mind. Feel free to replicate the search with other (relevantly similar) names. The reason I used Latin American authors is that I suspect that the custom of signing with one's initials is more common in this region.) Sir Paul 04:45, Feb 23, 2004 (UTC)
  • Why cut that fact that Borges's father (a lawyer and a psychology teacher) was "also a poet and novelist." It seems to me to be highly relevant. I've seen some web sites misattribute work by Borges's father to Borges himself, presumably because they were unaware of this.
If he was, and his writings had some minimum degree of significance, then leave it. Borges always referred to his father as a "freethinker", mentioning his being a lawyer and a psychology teacher, but never, as far as I can recall, his accomplishments as a writer. [- Sir Paul]
The novel (I believe he only wrote one) is El Caudillo. I see that http://www.themodernword.com/borges/borges_biography.html asserts that Borges actually helped his father write it; that may be true, but it's news to me. Here is the title page on a rare books site. Not too much about it on the web, and I've never read it, but it's reported to be a pretty decent book. [1], for whatever it's worth (not much, really, other than to show that my opinion is shared by some others) says, "His father, himself a lawyer and frustrated novelist, kept pulling Borges towards literature, not that Borges needed much convincing."
As for his poems, I can't find anything offhand, though I'm pretty sure he did write (and publish) several.
How about we settle this by restoring the parenthetical remark as "also author of one novel"? It seems to be a good shorthand for emphasizing that his father was a literary man, and more relevant than just sying so without evidence. -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Yes. Perhaps adding that he was a "frustrated" novelist gives proper context.Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
"author of one novel", "frustrated novelist", whatever, I don't care which as long as it's mentioned. -- Jmabel 03:01, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • Why remove the characterization of the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires 100 years ago as "prosperous"? It's certainly accurate. Again, are you saying that Borges's background is irrelevant or what? These are very odd edits to make without comment.
I believe it is not accurate. Palermo was basically a suburban part of Buenos Aires, sourrounded by very dangerous areas where you could get in trouble with compadritos (recall "Man on the Pink Corner"). According to Borges, Palermo was of a "disregarded poverty" [2] A website describes early 20th-century Palermo as "marginal". [3]. Of course, today Palermo is quite fashionable; but it was not so a decade, let alone a century ago. Note, also, that this is not necessarily indicative of Borges's background, as you seem to imply. [- Sir Paul]
I'll defer to you on this. Never been to B.A., so my sense of the city is a bit weak. -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • Similarly, why have you removed the statement that Borges major focus on writing fiction began during his recovery from his injury in 1939? He himself discussed this more than once, talking about how he this activitiy was involved in his recovery.
I tried to merge two overlapping segments; if something got lost in the process, I apologize. [- Sir Paul]
So I presume we can restore this without my having to track down a specific reference? -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
See below. Isn't my re-arrangement OK? If not, go ahead and fix it.Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
I did some re-arrangement. I had mistakenly placed the paragraph on Historia universal de la infamia with the section describing his accident. The History was actually written several years before. [- Sir Paul]
  • The following sentence -- "Borges's interest in fantasy was shared by Bioy Casares, with whom Borges coauthored several collections of tales between 1942 and 1967" -- was probably poorly positioned in the article, but cutting it entirely seems to be removal of a useful statement. -- Jmabel 00:17, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I concur. But where shall we put it? [- Sir Paul]
I can work that out. But I take it, then that you agree the sentence belongs in the article? -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
What belons in the article is, to me, the content of that sentence. But it should be appropriately placed in the article, which is difficult. But again, go ahead if you think you can sort this out.Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
  • You write "The language spoken at his home was English." I was under the impression that they used English and Spanish both about equally (which was implied, but not stated, by the previous text). Do you have any source for them not using Spanish at home?
I recall an interview (or was it his short autobiographical piece?) where he said something like: "At home, English was spoken." You are right: I actually went to his autobiography and he says he used "Spanish or English indistinctly". [I also checked the section where he described his father, but I found no mention of his being a poet/novelist. I'm not saying that he didn't write any poems or novels; I'm saying that the way Borges remembered him is probably the way history remembers him. Newton wrote copiously about religion, but it would be clearly wrong to summarize his achievements as "writer of books on physics and religion".] [- Sir Paul]
By "his autobiography", may I assume you mean the New Yorker piece republished in the English-language translation of The Aleph? It's really just essay-length, more an autobiographical essay than an autobiography. Odd he didn't mention this fact, especially if [4] is right that he helped with the book, but the essay, as I say, is well short of a complete autobiography. (& I gather we are back in agreement about his family not exclusively spekaing English at home.) -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Yes, "autobiography" is misleading. I am not aware how the piece appeared in English; in Spanish it's been released in a separate book, with huge typeface and thick paper so that people can buy it (no pun intended). I forgot to make the appropriate changes; if you haven't done so, I will. Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I'm aware that this article was eventually translated into Spanish, but I believe it is the only published work of his (not counting transcribed conversations) originally written in English for an English-speaking audience. -- Jmabel 03:01, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • (In added material) "El Sur" is, indeed, semi-autobiographical in that it describes the New Years accident, but to just say that without context seems odd. After all, this is a story that ends with a "French ending" the leaves us to presume the semi-autobiographical character dies in a knife fight. That also seems worth noting, no?
Yes. [- Sir Paul]
OK, no problem mentioning the story in this relation as long as we make sure that this is more a matter of a story with autobiographical elements than an autobigraphical roman a clef (or, I suppose, conte a clef).
  • Why on earth change "From 1937 to 1946 Borges worked at the Miguel Cané branch..." to "Since 1937, Borges had workedat [sic] the Miguel Cané branch..."? Yes, you and I presumably know that "when Juan Perón came to power" means 1946, but the average English-language reader won't. -- Jmabel 00:29, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I think I introduced that change for stylistic reasons, but I will check it now. [- Sir Paul]
Corrected. I removed a parenthetical line that seemed redundant; please revert if it is not.Sir Paul 01:54, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
  • Why drop "In 1967, Borges began a five-year period of collaboration with the American translator Norman Thomas di Giovanni, thanks to which became better known in the English-speaking world." This is an article in English, so this is presumably quite relevant to it readers. It is also a good indication that the di Giovanni translations have sort of a semi-official status.
It seems to me irrelevant. Why the name of the person who happened to be the translator of Borges's work should be of special interest to English audiences? [- Sir Paul]
Well, English translations of Borges prior to that date were a hodgepodge. Frankly, some of them are pretty mediocre. Because Borges was an effectively native English speaker, and becuase he actively worked with di Giovanni, the di Giovanni translations actually have something of the character of collaborative works, with Borges (an avid translator himself) at least reviewing and approving and reportedly doing more than that. This is discussed at great length in Borges on Writing (a book conversations between Borges, di Giovanni, and others). -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Fine. I will restore the section. Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
  • I get the feeling from a couple of edits you made that you might just be unaware that Borges loss of vision was not a unidirectional degeneration. He had several operations that partially restored his sight, and while the trend was downward, it was not uniformly so. The way you've edited this, a reader would think that he was totally blind from the early fifties on.
It is true that Borges's loss of vision was not sudden; but it is also true that on many occasions he made clear that for all practical purposes, by 1955 he was blind. Like other previous objections, this one seems to pose a legitimate concern, but one which shouldn't be addressed to me in particular. Deleting those sentences is better than leaving them; that the article still needs improvement is of course true, but not my particular responsibility. [- Sir Paul]
The reason I'm taking it up with you is that you did several (I believe three) separate deletions or alterations of text that changed the tone of the article in this respect. If you like, I can go look again and track them down from the diffs. No question: from 1955 on, he was too blind to read, but see, for example, the first paragraph of the essay (or lecture) "La cegura" in Siete Noches: "Empezaré refiriéndome a mi modesta cegura personal... total de un ojo, parcial del otro. Todavía puedo decifrar.. el verde y el azul. Hay un color que no me ha sido infiel, el color amarillo." That essay dates from 1977. He goes on to explain (in effect) that he usually fixes on 1955 as the date he associates most with his gradually encroaching blindness partly because it was the year he became head of the National Library (the third blind man to be such, he points out). He also goes on in that essay to discuss his taking up learning Anglo-Saxon at that time, and at least implies that he could still read large words on a blackboard. -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
We agree on this. He never actually became totally blind. The problem is that the scattered senteces I deleted were not clear about the issue, and besides overlapped each other. I will do my best to restore what can be salvaged; but if after this you still think I trimmed some relevant lines, please do make all further changes you judge necessary. Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
Update: The lines I erased are two:
1.With encroaching blindness, Borges became unable to read and write.
The sentence is placed just one paragraph after the lines of the "Poema de los dones", and it is clearly redundant.
2.Borges, who had long suffered from eye problems, become totally blind in his final decades.
This is actually false. He never became totally blind. His remarks about being able to see some colors apply to the last years of his life as well.
So I really see no reason to include them. Sir Paul 17:44, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
OK, I suppose this is no big deal. -- Jmabel 03:01, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)


  • You dropped, "Borges's essay "Veinticinco Agosto 1983" announced his intention to commit suicide on August 25, 1983; in the last years of his life, he claimed that it was only through cowardice that he had failed to do so." How can you consider this biographically irrelevant?
It was a somewhat gross assertion: Borges didn't "announce his intention to commit suicide"; he wrote a ficional piece where the narrator did so. That the narrator may have some similarities with Borges does not warrant such a misleading wording. Sir Paul 01:41, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
I know I've read him saying in a published interview that he really had intended to kill himself on that date and that it was only through cowardice that he had failed to do so. But obviously, my recollection is not adequate sourcing on a disputed matter. I'll try to track this one down. -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Your recollection may be accurate --or you may be remembering the comments about his piece "Remorse", where he says that he "wasn't brave [enough]". Either case, it is still misleading to say that he "announced his intention..." in that story, as if he somehow made a commitment to kill himself before some kind of public audience. (Note that I have nothing against suicide, and I wouldn't want to hide the fact that Borges wanted to kill himself if it was properly documented. My objection is based on purely factual grounds.)Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
As I said, I'll try to find my documentation on exactly what he said. -- Jmabel 03:01, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)

OK, that's it for the list. I see I'm contesting the majority of your edits. Sorry about that, I'm not trying to be contentious, honest, but it seems I really disagree with what you are doing with the article, especially what seems to me to be removal of biographical information. These are the kind of changes that are usually discussed beforehand in a talk page, no? At least, that's always been my practice. -- Jmabel 00:47, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

So, Sir Paul, can we please try to discuss deletions on the talk page, preferably with you giving an argument for the deletion you want to make instead of my having to take 8-15 minutes apiece to defend myself with explicit sourcing? I know my way around Borges's material pretty well, but not well enough to source these things without finding and leafing through a book each time, when I'd really rather be writing new material than defending what I've already written line by line. -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
OK. The article had some important mistakes and misspellings, and that led me to adopt a somewhat cavalier attitude towards other parts which might have had some value. Sorry for the trouble.Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)

And now I see that you've removed the phrase that indicates that after his "promotion" from the library job to that of poultry and rabbit inspector he immediately resigned. Someone could easily be left with the misimpression that for some period he worked this absurdly inappropriate job. -- Jmabel 06:15, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

If it says "he was effectively fired" I think it's clear that he dind't actually work at that job --or maybe it isn't? Clarifying the issue seemed to me to be a mild insult to the readers' intelligence, but I may be wrong.Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
Well, he'd have been just as effectively fired from the library job if he'd been the sort of man who would have worked the job inspecting rabbits and poultry. I mean, there are several communist-era Eastern European writers who put up with such job assignments. -- Jmabel 03:01, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I'm glad to see that you included the lines we agreed to restore. Our discussion is now over. Nice talking to you. Sir Paul 14:41, Feb 22, 2004 (UTC)

While we're on all of this, as noted in the previous section of this talk page, there is a lot of work to be done in this article other than quibbling over small edits. To reiterate for anyone who'd like to move the article forward (most of this can be found in more detail above):

  • If someone can sort out exactly what would have been the connotations of "compadrito" and "matrero" in turn-of-the-century B.A., as against how Borges used them (see discussion above), that would be useful.
  • Can anyone work out if these books (mentioned in the obviously poorly researched list on http://usuarios.lycos.es/precervantes/bibliografia/borges.html) really exist (see notes above)? If so, they merit mention in the article:
    • Macedonio Fernández (1961)
      • apparently, an anthology he edited [5]
    • Borges: sus mejores páginas (1970)
    • Borges para niños (1988)
  • Life - probably could use more on his sister Norah, especially because they colloborated on volumes (she illustrated).
  • Work - could do with extended sections on various aspects of his work, but it's at least a solid overview.
  • Borges as world citizen - Little more than a stub.
  • Works: Quotations - So far there is only one, but it is sure representative!
  • Works: Could use more ISBNs, and I suspect that many of these books have English language translations that merit mention and indication of English-language publication date. I suspect that there are also more posthumously published works worth mentioning.
  • Works: Short Stories: This is an almost-random hodgepodge and should be revisited.
  • Works: Quasi-Fiction: An arbitrary and ill-defined category. I think the topic of Borges's blending of fictional and non-fictional forms deserves an extended discussion rather than a list of four works.
  • We could use sections on:
    • Borges's views on epistemology, philosophical idealism, and personal identity
    • Borges's views on infinity
    • Borges's views on translation
    • Borges's views on biography
    • Borges's views on race and ethnicity
    • Genre writing (detective fiction, fantasy, science fiction)
    • Influence of Borges on other writers and thinkers
    • Should add a filmography, too.

-- Jmabel 03:01, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Update on Borges's father: perusing a bookstore here in Buenos Aires I came across a title that I had never seen before. It was called Los dos Borges (The Two Borges) and written by a Volodia Teitelboim. Opening the book at random, I noticed a line in which Borges was quoted saying that his father

trató de ser escritor y fracasó en el empeño. Compuso algunos sonetos muy buenos.
tried to become a writer and failed in the attempt. He composed some very good sonnets.

So he was a writer in a sense, but not in another ("failed in the attempt"). We can include the quote in the article, if you agree. Sir Paul 01:54, Feb 23, 2004 (UTC)

Sure. -- Jmabel 13:46, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)

"Borges as Argentine and as World Citizen"

22 August 2004 I moved the staged contribution from this page to the main Borges article. Hopefully, that resolves a lot of old issues and some naive POVs that were dogging the article for more than a year. A little squeamish about how long the article's getting, but I included the subsection about "Martin Fierro" after all. Still, that subsection could be shortened, with parts moved to the linked Borges on Martín Fierro page. In coming weeks I or someone might reorganize this section of the Talk:Borges page to reflect all open issues/questions, separating out older issues, maybe onto an archive page. munge
4 August 2004 Still struggling with how to integrate. Renoved remarks about "Borges on Martin Fierro" from this discussion page and moved to the Talk:Borges on Martín Fierro page. I propose to remove the existing 2 paragrphs on that topic from the Borges article, and add link inside the article to the Borges on Martín Fierro page. Any objections? My reasoning: There's no point being redundant here considering there's an article whose subject is the book El "Martín Fierro". And the current article is 38 kbytes.
I think we should at least have a sentence or two here and an explicit link to that article. It's important that readers find this easily: after all, this is the most important 20th century Argentine writer's reaction to the most important 19th century Argentine work of literature. -- Jmabel 00:57, Aug 6, 2004 (UTC)
Regarding that article, I have a question: Anyone able to confirm there is/was a tradition of improvised song or poetry contests in the Argentine countryside?

Yes and it's called payada. Usually using the milonga rhythm, usually in six- or ten-verse shots. The Martin Fierro ends with the description of one such payada. For more on that, Google for "payada", "payador", "gabino ezeiza" etc. (Alex, 19/Oct/2004)


Ideally the article will be more concise when the stubby thing is fixed. How serious should I take it when Wikipedia warns us that the article is 38 kbyte, and should be 32 kbyte? (I take it that older browsers have trouble w/editing forms containing >32 kbyte, but I'm not sure that's the real problem, if any.) munge
26 March 2004 I now have something pasted at the bottom of this page, ready for review. Hope that's OK to do that on this page; goal would be to get comments, corrections, formatting, and fill in more examples. Then, move it to the main article in coming weeks. Kind of wish our postmodern predecessor hadn't of brought up the topic, but as long as it's in there I felt the need to correct what I saw as distortions, and to put some context around why any questions about nationality even come up. (Rather than trying to put a postmodern context around Borges, someone should put some Borgesian context around postmodernism someday; cf JLB's "The Nothingness of Personality"; and a cutting remark in one of the Dantesque essays to the effect that contextual diversity is not a new idea; that the ancients too believed there are multiple, equally valid interpretations of texts.) -munge

That was a title this section received when it was first segrgated from the amorphous postmodern thingus we all started with. (It's two separate sections now.) Bottom line for me is that the section(s) did not and still don't reflect the thinking Borges clearly expressed about this matter in "Our Poor Individualism" and elsewhere. Goes back and forth between POVs that he was worldly vs. a product of his time and place, never really goes much of anywhere, then peters out. No criticism intended, my fault as much as anyone's. What should it be, people? Borges contended with the question of what it means to be Argentine. He advised that Argentina's literary identity must be to look to the entire world from the vantage point of an unfinished Argentina--not limit the scope of attention to Hispanic matters, let alone to the Southern Cone, and certainly not to "local color". The page doesn't doesn't reflect that view, nor critique it. Consider also that the "accusation" that he was a Jew probably conveyed in code to racists the smear that he was not a true Argentine. Whereas the original page seemed to me to paint Borges as hopelessly Eurocentric. Because I don't really understand all the prejudices involved, I'm not sure how to rise above them; If I fix it, it risks being insensitive to inter-American rivalries that sometimes portray Argentina itself, favorably or unfavorably, as distinctly Europhile. Borges did strive to rise above ethnicity and there is much to say for his efforts--but at the same time the scope of his attention was filtered--it is true that he didn't spend much research effort on indigenous cultures; and The Book of Imaginary Beings betrays that the fantastic creatures of Chinese lore escaped his pen; and he may have expressed occasional Francophobia. I'm not trying to be petty--he probably knew more literatures and cultures than anybody you or I know; and who knows what languages he would have learned had he escaped blindness--but is there a way to split the difference between the characatures of Borges as (imperfectly) worldly versus Borges the (hoplessly, myopically) Argentine? Be that as it may these two roles--Argentine, and World Citizen--cannot be separated and neither can two subsections convey anything but our ignorance. I hereby threaten to fix it unless someone who's actually qualified steps up to the plate. -munge, 10 March 2004

Well, you may not be ideally qualified, but I don't think any of us are. Judging by the preceding paragraph, you are clearly clueful & have some idea where to take tht part of the article. When I did my major rewrite, I wasn't really focused on this "grand statement" sort of stuff, just ground-clearing and basic facts, but I wholly agree that these grand statements belong here, especially if decently sourced with examples. -- Jmabel 16:45, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)
OK, I expect to replace the existing "Borges as Argentine" and "Borges as World Citizen" with the piece below by the end of July. Comments appreciated. I reread "The Argentine Writer and Tradition" a few times recently and frankly, I'm sorry anybody brought the whole thing up. If you read his essay carefully, you'll see that even to ask the question about his nationality is to reveal one's own petty nationalisms. Was he too European and insufficiently worldly (as the original writer of the wiki article seemed to have it)? Is he too worldly and insufficiently Argentine (as Borges' nationalist critics would have it)? Are Argentines too European (as I've heard some racists express)? Who cares! In the end, I find the entire question is almost indisinguishable from soccer hooliganism. I did my best to summarize the rootedness in Argentina, the sources of diversity, and the shortcomings--for those who are keeping score. In the process, I hope I managed to stumble across anything interesting or at least useful. -munge, 7 July 2004

Hey i was reading this article and wanted to change it a little but I couldn't find the exact citation. There is a brilliant refutation by Borges himself about this topic. I believe his cites the Quaran as never mentioning camels as analogous to him never writing about Argentina. If anyone can find the exact article I think it would be great here. I first found this in John Barth's Friday Book, "Literature of Replenishment" I believe. -DT —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.37.131.113 (talk) 19:54, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

"compadrito" vs. "matrero"

Past discussion is at Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive#Current question: "compadrito" vs. "matrero". The issue was the connotations of these two terms in early 20th century Argentina. If you want to revive the discussion, please do so here, not on the archived page. -- Jmabel 18:10, 15 March 2004 (UTC)

Did Borges have Jewish ancestry?

Past discussion is at Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive#Current question: did Borges have Jewish ancestry?. The conclusion: he did not. If you want to revive the discussion, please do so here, not on the archived page. -- Jmabel 18:10, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It is well nigh impossible to prove whether someone with substantial Iberian ancestry does or does not have Jewish forbears. The reason is that Spain and Portugal in the Middle Ages had substantial Jewish minorities, thanks in part to Moorish protection. As the Moors gradually surrendered their control of Spain, chauvinist Spanish Catholics told the Jews they had 3 choices: convert to Catholicism, leave Spain, or die. Many underwent half-hearted conversions. Once converted, their sons and daughters could intermarry freely with Catholic Spaniards and Portuguese. Hence much of the Iberian middle and upper classes know or suspect that they have some Jewish ancestry. The descendants of those who left Spain and Portugal rather than convert or die became known as the Sephardic Jews. Does Borges feel a bit Jewish by virtue of his bookishness and vast learning, and the sympathy with Judaica occasionally revealed in his nonfiction? I think so.123.255.60.206 (talk) 00:38, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Current questions and remarks relating to list of works

Past discussion of this topic is at Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive#Current questions relating to list of works. Further discussion belongs here, not on the archived page. -- Jmabel 18:10, 15 March 2004 (UTC)

Excerpted from my own previous remarks:

  • If anyone knows a good source for an English-language Borges bibliography, please let me know (or start inserting the information yourself: if you do that, I'd appreciate a note here).
  • If anyone can give further brief annotation (ISBN numbers, English-language translation info) to what's already there, please go ahead.
  • The list of works (related to the Premio Cervantes) at http://usuarios.lycos.es/precervantes/bibliografia/borges.html definitely has some errors. For example, there is a novel by his father on the list, some misspelled titles, dates (supposedly of works) that actually apply only to like an artist's illustrated limited edition of 30 copies of a poem already published elsewhere, etc. (& I do mean etc.). Clearly the list was not assembled by someone who know Borges's work well. However, there are a few intriguing entries that I'm wondering if relates to acutal books I've just never encountered:
    • Macedonio Fernández (1961)
      • Fernandez was something of a mentor to Borges, and I know Borges wrote a short eulogy at the time of his death, but I'm unaware of a book by Borges on Fernández. Does anyone know anything solid?
    • Borges: sus mejores páginas (1970)
      • Is there such a book? If so, is it anything more than some minor anthology?
    • Borges para niños (1988)
      • The only other references to this on the web seem to derive from this list. Is there such a book?

Where do we want to take this article?

This has been weeded down to open issues. The full version as of 15 March 2004 can be found at Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive#Where do we want to take this article?". -- Jmabel 18:10, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Borges' life story fills a longish autobiographical essay available in the Dutton edition of The Aleph. His critique of the craft of biography is specified in his essay "On William Beckford's Vathek" (essays cited here are in Selected Non Fictions and/or Other Inquisitions)

Before the big fix, this page had a shallow treatment of race, nationality, and postmodernism, now deleted or moved. If anyone wants to revisit those subjects, notably "Two Books" traces a common thread of racism running through Nazi, Allied, and Communist movements; See also "The Argentine Writer and Tradition" , "Our Poor Individuality", "I a Jew", remarks on Carlyle, his WWII-themed fiction...the sheer number of different cultures he admired and studied. However, I don't claim JLB is pristine on issues of race and nationality.

If someone who really knows the postmodern canon cares to, one could give us an account of Borges' relationship, if any, with 20th century European criticism, Again, the earlier entry omitted to account for JLB's remarks about biography in his essay on "Vathek", "On the Nothingness of Personality", "Narrative Art and Magic", lectures on Buddhism, remarks about translation, his translations into Spanish...these would seem to refute any easy answers about his relationship with all things postmodern and also might help in understanding his actual influence on later writers.

(I wrote comments similar to the above a few months ago and I've edited them to reflect the state of the page & discussion as of now. Thanks esp. to JMabel and Viajero for the improvements, and for even keeping one or two sentences I had written. -munge, 24 Dec 2003)

Excerpting some of my own earlier remarks that still seem relevant:

  • Yes, there is much to be said on race, probably even more on his career & on Argentine politics. Discussion of race should certainly include reference to his wonderful, 1-page Yo, judío 1934.
  • Are there any criteria at all for what stories are listed? I find it odd, for example, to include every single story from the "Universal History of Infamy" but none of the "forgeries", and how could we be leaving out "Garden of Forking Paths": among other things, it's rather widely taught in US high school Spanish classes, so it's many Americans' first introduction to Borges, and a damn good one at that. And what about films based on or about Borges?

-- Jmabel 18:10, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure if Viajero considers the following resolved, so I'm leaving it in as I edit down this talk page:

Jmabel: Good work so far! IMO, the article still urgently needs a simple, straightforward summary of biographical details. To give you a gentle nudge in this direction (!), I collected some random bits from the article in a new section at the top called Life, which is still woefully incomplete. If I have time later, I will lend you a hand with this part. Carry on! -- Viajero 13:01, 26 November 2003 (UTC)

20 Feb 04, edits

A lengthy exchange between Jmabel and Sir Paul can be found at Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive#20 Feb 04, edits. It includes quite a bit of discussion of the degree to which Borges's father was a writer; we compromised on the wording now in the article. The latter portion of that discussion and the one unresolved issue from our colloquy follows. -- Jmabel 18:10, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Update on Borges's father: perusing a bookstore here in Buenos Aires I came across a title that I had never seen before. It was called Los dos Borges (The Two Borges) and written by a Volodia Teitelboim. Opening the book at random, I noticed a line in which Borges was quoted saying that his father

trató de ser escritor y fracasó en el empeño. Compuso algunos sonetos muy buenos.
tried to become a writer and failed in the attempt. He composed some very good sonnets.

So he was a writer in a sense, but not in another ("failed in the attempt"). We can include the quote in the article, if you agree. Sir Paul 01:54, Feb 23, 2004 (UTC)

I can't remember where I read this, and a fast skimming through my books didn't reveal the source but I definitely remember reading that his father "had the decency of not publishing" Alexhard 13:29, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Sure. -- Jmabel 13:46, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I'd still be interested in hearing from anyone who actually knows the elder Borges's works. In particular, I remember reading somewhere that he wrote (and published) some poetry, but I have no idea whether it was any good or whether it was anything more than vanity publication. -- Jmabel 18:10, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Excerpted, see Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive#20 Feb 04, edits for full context:

  • You dropped, "Borges's essay "Veinticinco Agosto 1983" announced his intention to commit suicide on August 25, 1983; in the last years of his life, he claimed that it was only through cowardice that he had failed to do so." How can you consider this biographically irrelevant?
It was a somewhat gross assertion: Borges didn't "announce his intention to commit suicide"; he wrote a ficional piece where the narrator did so. That the narrator may have some similarities with Borges does not warrant such a misleading wording. Sir Paul 01:41, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
I know I've read him saying in a published interview that he really had intended to kill himself on that date and that it was only through cowardice that he had failed to do so. But obviously, my recollection is not adequate sourcing on a disputed matter. I'll try to track this one down. -- Jmabel 06:09, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Your recollection may be accurate --or you may be remembering the comments about his piece "Remorse", where he says that he "wasn't brave [enough]". Either case, it is still misleading to say that he "announced his intention..." in that story, as if he somehow made a commitment to kill himself before some kind of public audience. (Note that I have nothing against suicide, and I wouldn't want to hide the fact that Borges wanted to kill himself if it was properly documented. My objection is based on purely factual grounds.)Sir Paul 17:25, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)
As I said, I'll try to find my documentation on exactly what he said. -- Jmabel 03:01, 22 February 2004 (UTC)

Jmabel remarks on state of article 22 Feb 2004

While we're on all of this, as noted in the previous section of this talk page, there is a lot of work to be done in this article other than quibbling over small edits. To reiterate for anyone who'd like to move the article forward (most of this can be found in more detail above or at Talk:Jorge Luis Borges/Archive):

  • If someone can sort out exactly what would have been the connotations of "compadrito" and "matrero" in turn-of-the-century B.A., as against how Borges used them (see discussion above), that would be useful.
  • Can anyone work out if these books (mentioned in the obviously poorly researched list on http://usuarios.lycos.es/precervantes/bibliografia/borges.html) really exist (see notes above)? If so, they merit mention in the article:
    • Macedonio Fernández (1961)
      • apparently, an anthology he edited [6]
    • Borges: sus mejores páginas (1970)
    • Borges para niños (1988)
  • Life - probably could use more on his sister Norah, especially because they colloborated on volumes (she illustrated).
  • Work - could do with extended sections on various aspects of his work, but it's at least a solid overview.
  • Borges as world citizen - Little more than a stub.
  • Works: Quotations - So far there is only one, but it is sure representative!
  • Works: Could use more ISBNs, and I suspect that many of these books have English language translations that merit mention and indication of English-language publication date. I suspect that there are also more posthumously published works worth mentioning.
  • Works: Short Stories: This is an almost-random hodgepodge and should be revisited.
  • Works: Quasi-Fiction: An arbitrary and ill-defined category. I think the topic of Borges's blending of fictional and non-fictional forms deserves an extended discussion rather than a list of four works.
  • We could use sections on:
    • Borges's views on epistemology, philosophical idealism, and personal identity
    • Borges's views on infinity
    • Borges's views on translation
    • Borges's views on biography
    • Borges's views on race and ethnicity
    • Genre writing (detective fiction, fantasy, science fiction)
    • Influence of Borges on other writers and thinkers
    • Should add a filmography, too.

-- Jmabel 03:01, 22 February 2004 (UTC)

Tlön

Those working on this article may also want to look at Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, into which I've put a lot of effort (maybe more than into the Borges article itself). It is a featured article candidate; I'd love to see the Borges article get there, too, but it has a much longer way to go. -- Jmabel 18:18, 15 March 2004 (UTC)

compadrito is not a matrero

Acording to the dictionary of the Real Academia Española, Matrero is a fugitive that seeks the countryside to evade Justice.
As correctly noted, Martin Fierro was un gaucho matrero.

On the other hand:
Compadrito is a popular, boastful, quarrelling kind of guy, affected on his manners and attire. The word has a more urban (or at least suburban) bias.

So I think that JorgeLuis 03:12, 26 Jun 2004 (UTC) is right and that the issue is settled.

Regards, ejrrjs (80.58.192.197) 10:54, 5 July 2004 (UTC)

Borges's influence

The following (not well formatted, and with some typos I've fixed) was anonymously added to the article & almost immediately deleted by Snowspinner. He's probably right that this is a bit of a laundry list (and a bit arbitrary: in fantasy and science fiction, I'd put Stanislaw Lem high on such a list) and that a shorter list with more clarity as to the nature of the influence would be more useful. Still, this may be worth mining for the articles on these various writers, so it should be preserved here on talk, not just in one version of the history. -- Jmabel 21:20, Aug 1, 2004 (UTC)

Hmph. Snowspinner's problem with it is that it's "overwhelming" and insufficiently descriptive. Actually, the list seems fairly sound and can be easily documented. My problem with the list is, it's cribbed, apparently word for word, without credit from http://www.themodernword.com/borges/borges_influence.html. That page also links to remarks about Borges' influence on Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Joyce Carol Oates...In the sci-fi category, there's Lem, Harlan Ellison, and Poul Anderson. Personally, I'd speculate that Samuel R. Delany, Ursula LeGuin, and maybe Philip K. Dick were influenced by Borges. If there was a non-fiction category, it would have to mention Michael Foucault. (BTW, Gibson's Canadian, not US, well, for the last 35 years or so, anyway. And we don't say "American" when we mean US, esp. when the topic is a South American writer. Sheesh.)
I've edited a couple of these (Danielewski and Eco), omitting certain diacriticals, which I don't know how to do. -munge
My objection was twofold. First, a lengthy list in the middle of an article disrupts the flow of the article. Second, it is over-complete. A general article on Borges doesn't really need this much detail on his influence - especially since the bulk of this list has little to do directly with Borges, in that most of the entries don't mention Borges at all. As I said in the edit summary, what would be helpful would be two, maybe three examples of writers Borges has influenced, and a few sentences on each of them describing that influence. That sould have the advantage of providing nformation that is directly relevent to Borges, of not breaking the flow of the article, and of being more informative on the whole than a simple list that's basically just defining who people are.
As for the copyvio aspect of it, that basically means the list is useless to us, and we ought not modify it and try to repost it or clean it up, as then it's still a derivative work of a copyvio. If there's to be an influence section, someone needs to compose it from scratch. Snowspinner 14:16, 2 August 2004 (UTC)
I agree that, as placed, it was disruptive and, as is, a copyright risk. On the basis of Borges' ideas about biography, I disagree on "over-complete". Not random enough is my bigger complaint. I trust that by the time it's fixed, it will be less derivative than the writers that it describes, and closer to the reference section. Note that writers he influenced has been a "to do" item elsewhere on this Talk page. I'm sorry if I was cross. I was aggravated about something else. I sense that you want it to be a much better article someday, and I share that hope. munge 3 Aug 2004

Writers influenced by Borges include, but are not limited to:

Barth, John American postmodern novelist who incorporates Borgesian themes into his fiction.

Danielewski, Mark Z. US author of House of Leaves, which concerns a house having more interior space than would appear possible; contains a book-within-a-book written by the blind scholar of literature and ancient languages, Zampano—clearly a reference to Borges (who is mentioned in footnote #167).

Eco, Umberto Italian thinker and author of The Name of the Rose, whose character Jorge of Burgos, a blind monk whose native language is Spanish, runs a labyrinthine library that's the setting for the search for one of Aristotle's lost works, about the practice of comedy. These themes contain clear references to Borges' "Library of Babel" and "Averroes' Search".

Fuentes, Carlos This Mexican writer -- author of the masterpiece The Death of Artemio Cruz -- paid tribute to Borges in "Borges in Action."

García Márquez, Gabriel Colombian writer and Nobel Laureate, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Gibson, William Canadian science fiction writer and one of the key founders of the "cyberpunk" genre, author of Neuromancer.

Kis, Danilo A Serbian-Hungarian novelist, poet, and essayist, the late Kis was the author of complex works than mined many Borgesian themes.

Morrison, Grant British comic book author, his postmodern style graced the pages of Animal Man and Doom Patrol and may currently seen in DC's The Invisibles.

Pynchon, Thomas American writer, one of the principle figures in postmodern fiction and author of Gravity's Rainbow.

Shepard, Lucius American science fiction and fantasy writer influenced by latin American magical realism.

Strand, Mark A Canadian poet and critic whose poetry has been influenced by Borges' fiction.

Useche, Andrés Colombian filmmaker and graphic artist, Useche's films merge dream and reality in a labyrinth of identity.

VanderMeer, Jeff American writer of fantasy and science fiction with an often ironic, postmodern bent; author of the "Ambergris" stories.

Veitch, Rick American comic book writer, worked on Swamp Thing during its most psychedelic period.

Wolfe, Gene American science fiction and fantasy writer, author of the "Book of the New Sun" series.

<end recovered text>

Borges not the first at fake reviews

At least one person pionered the use of imaginary reviews before Borges. Thomas Carlyle. Sartor Resartus was a book length review of a pretend German transcendentalist philisophical work and biography of its author. It was considered for a while a real book by some. It was I think Carlyle's first well known book. It is considered one of his best and most lasting today. It dealt with a supposed philosophy of clothes. Thomas Carlyle although neglected recently has been considered to be one of the greatest writers in english so he can't really be ignored. He played a large role in spreading the works of the German trancendentalist and romantics early in English. Both by this work and his still read translations of Goethe. Some of his other works are a "History of The French revolution" and "On Hero's and Hero Worship". I dont know if Borges had read him but I imagine he would have at least been familiar with him and this work. Carlyle was or is considered both a great literary man and a great historian so he would have been right up Borges alley. It's book length of course not an essay. Still should maybe be noted.--Case 09:30, 29 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I wasn't familiar with this piece by Carlyle, but I'm sure Borges would have been. Borges wrote often about Carlyle and I would imagine he probably had read his works in their entirety (which I haven't). I'll edit the article accordingly. -- Jmabel 18:31, Aug 29, 2004 (UTC)

I found a quote that addresses this influence in Borges' This Craft of Verse. pg 104. (2000). Borges is speaking of those authors that most influenced him and the formulation of his poet's creed.

"At the same time [1916, in Geneva], I also discovered a very different writer. I also discovered -- and was overwhelmed by -- Thomas Carlyle. I read Sartor Resartus, and I can recall many of its pages; I know them by heart. Carlyle sent me to the study of German. I remember I bought Heine's Lyrisches Intermezzo and a German-English dictionary. After a while I found I could dispense with the dictionary and go on reading..." -- Euthydemos 19:43, Sep 9, 2004

Great, I'll use that. -- Jmabel 23:50, Sep 9, 2004 (UTC)

  • This comes from the introduction to The Garden of Forking Paths. The traslation is from Andrew Hurley published by Viking Penguin so I don't know about the legal issues with quoting it in the article. Maybe theirs a public domain version or someone could use their own translation. I don't know how you would want to chop it up for the article either. Its the second of the two paragraphs.


"It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books-setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them. That was Carlyle's procedure in Sartor Resartus, Butler's in The Fair Haven-though those works suffer under the imperfection that they themselves are books, and not a whit less tautological than the others. A more reasonable, more inept, and more lazy man, I have chosen to write notes on imaginary books."


I've googled Fair Haven. It is by Samuel Butler. He was an interesting and neglected writer. He was one of the early secular critics of darwinism and an ideosyncratic christian apologist and anti-materialist. He wrote "The Way of All Flesh" I think it is one of Modern Librarys top books of the century. Theirs a decent article in Wiki that refreshed me on him. Project Gutenberg has an edition of the book with a nice little introduction from someone that sums it up. It was subtitled: "A work in defence of the Miraculous Element in our Lord's Ministry upon Earth, both as against Rationalistic Impugners and certain Orthodox Defenders, by the late John Pickard Owen, with a Memoir of the Author by William Bickersteth Owen". Jaques Barzun has a bio of him in From Dawn to Decadence which introduced me before. He apparently influenced Shaw's and others critique of Dawrinism as having "banished mind from the universe". He has become more respected as time has gone on, moving out of obscurity during life. Carlyle's book obviously was much earlier. I think Butler came up with the idea independently though. Sartor Resartus is probaly more important as a book but who knows what Borges thought so it should maybe be mentioned. This is a great quote anyway that clears it up. Would be great to have at least some of it mentioned in the article.--Case 02:44, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)

  • Great, I'll work this in. A passage of that length is well within fair use, if appropriately attributed. -- Jmabel 05:57, Sep 13, 2004 (UTC)
  • Also, Borges was pretty big on Butler. I've tried to keep this as short as I can in this already long article while doing it justice. Perhaps you'd like to enhande the article on Butler? BTW as for having "banished mind from the universe", have you read Gregory Bateson? Well acquainted with both Darwin and Butler, he argued that from what we now know about mind, Darwinian evolution is closely analogous to a mental process. He wrote a lot of articles and books related to this; the most accessible is a popularizing book at the end of his life, Mind and Nature. A more serious collection of Bateson's work is Steps to an Ecology of Mind. -- Jmabel 06:41, Sep 13, 2004 (UTC)
  • Maybe this isnt the place to mention this and sorry for taking up space if it is. But would'nt it be the coolest thing ever if someone started an open-source encyclopedia of Tlon. Why hasn't anyone thought of this. A wikipedia of Tlon. The coolest thing ever. Lets destroy the world. Tlon shall take you all.--Case 18:42, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for the info about Bateson sounds interesting. I think this was the distinction Butler was making. He was pro-evolution but ant-darwinist. Evolution is a very old idea predating Darwin. As Butlers article says he was anoyed that Darwin ignored the contributions his grandfather had already made. Goethe was a major proponent of evolution a century before Darwin. His study of plant adaptions was a major step in evolutionary thought. Biological evolution is an idea as old as the greeks. This played a major role actualy in the theory of spontaneos generation. It was hypothosized that life emerged spontaneosly from the mud of the sea and evolved from there on. Evolution as a cosmological and metiphysical idea was a romanticist notion. Darwin derived his theory in the background of an already evolutionist mindset in the culture. Charles Peirce was also one of the early secular critics of Darwinism. He had a completely evolutionary cosmology but dissagreed with the emphasize on the mechanism of survival of the fittest. He came up with as an alternative Agapeism which emphisized the role of nurturing love. It was the materialism that anoyed Peirce and Butler. They saw a more mind focused universe. The culmination of evolution was inteligence and increasing inteligence, while darwin in their view was too focused on random material and a blind law of averages. The mind was their ruling factor while they saw Darwin as a materialist and cartesian with out concern for the factor of inteligence. At least thats a very rough outline of the differences. I haven't read either very much. Mostly a second hand description. Sorry again if im being irrelevant to the discussion of the article. By the way Tlon will have you all.--Case 19:44, 17 September 2004 (UTC)

Confirmed Borges Hoaxes

What hoaxes can we confirm? I have a mind to get rid of that "Quasi-fiction" category, merge it into the fiction, and put parenthetical remarks such as

  • "The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim" (hoax review of nonexistent book)

This is distinct from works like "Pierre Menard..." and "Tlon...", which to me are obviously not reviews of real books. In contrast, I think that in the Autobiographical Essay, Borges reveals that a friend of his actually tried to order the book The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim from London, and that he did nothing at first to correct the impression that the book was nonexistent.

Is the stuff at the back of Universal History of Infamy also counterfeit?

  • Did Borges falsely attribute "A Theologian in Death" and "Mahomed's Double" to Emmanuel Swedenborg?
  • Did Borges falsely attribute "The Chamber of Statues" and "The Story of Two Dreamers" to 1001 Nights?
  • Did Borges falsely attribute "The Wizard Who Was Made to Wait" to Infante don Juan Manuel et al?
  • Did Borges falsely attribute "The Mirror of Ink" to Richard Francis Burton et al?

I have also encountered the idea that Borgest falsely attributed "On exactitude in Science" to Suarez Miranda, and that the idea was actually cribbed from Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno.

What about "An Examination of the Works of Herbert Quain"? At the time it was published, was it clear there was no such author? Likewise, "Three Versions of Judas"—when published, was it presented as fiction, or was it in a context that could lead readers to believe in an author named Nils Runeberg?

Those are the ones I can think of right off. Other known hoaxes or possible hoaxes that you may know of?

It's hard to prove that something doesn't exist. So I'm proposing, in the list of works, to put a parenthetical like

  • "On Exactitude in Science" (apparent hoax that Borges falsely attributes to nonexistent author Suarez Miranda)

-munge 17 Sept 2004

Yes, everything at the back of Universal History of Infamy is counterfeit. For original publication info, browse the Aarhus bibliography. I'm pretty sure most (maybe all) of these come from a column he did for a while with short reviews, translations of passages he came upon in his reading, I think even some literary gossip...
As for "On exactitude in Science", I already did an article. Pseudonymous original publication in Los Anales de Buenos Aires -- a literary magazine that I believe (but I'm not sure of this) he was editing at the time -- combined with the fact that he collaborated with Bioy Casares, who shared his sense of humor, suggests it was originally passed off as real.

Offhand, I don't know the history of "An Examination of the Works of Herbert Quain" or "Three Versions of Judas"; again, the Aarhus bibliography is the first place to start. -- Jmabel 05:37, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)

Tough site to navigate. Aarhus seems to say, "...Quain" appeared originally in Sur #79, April 1941, pp44-48, but also appeared that year in 1st ed. of El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (Garden of Forking Paths), month not specified. Page seems to show that JLB did lots of nonfiction in Sur that year, including in #78 and #80, so if it wasn't marked clearly, it could have confused people into thinking "...Quain" was also nonfiction. Got back issues?
Another Aarhus pageseems to indicate "...Judas" originally appreared in Sur #118 August 1944 pp7-12, and seems to indicate it was not included in Ficciones until the 1956 edition, when the Artificios section was added. (However, the 1956 date for Artificios contradicts the table of contents of the Penguin Collected Fictions, which says it was 1944.) Anyway, JLB wrote various fictions and non-fictions for Sur in 1944, so again, if not marked clearly...
"Museum" (apparently in 1946, according to my edition of Dreamtigers includes "On Rigor in Science" as well as the following poems and fragments. Were they intended to deceive? How to label them in a bibliography?
  • "Quatrain", supposedly "From Divan of Almoqtadir El Magrebi (12th century)"
  • "Limits", supposedly by "Julio Platero Haedo: Inscriptiones (Montevideo, 1923)"
  • "The Poet Declares His Renown", supposedly "From the Divan of Abulcasim El Hadrami (12th century)"
  • "The Magnanimous Enemy", supposedly "From H. Gering: Angang zur Heimskringla (1893)" and ostensibly a quotation from "Muirchertach, King in Dublin" (1102) who seems to have really existed
  • "The Regret of Heraclitus", supposedly from "Gaspar Camerarius, in Delciae poetarum Borussinae, VII, 16" (which is almost certainly not about Heraclitus, unless the latter had a crush on someone named Mathilde Urbach, which seems highly unlikely)
user:munge 06:21, 15 December 2004 (UTC)

Recent edits

1) Please stop re-inserting "foremost "South American" writer". It is condescending and typical of an Anglo-American POV. 2) Borges is widely considered one of the most influential figures in Latin American lit; it is silly to ask for a quotation/etc to back this up as any quick survey of essays by well-known Latin American writers will tell you, but offhand I can only remember that Carlos Fuentes is said to have remarked that "without Borges, the modern Latin American novel simply would not exist." 3) The whole article needs to be reviewed for grammar and concision, I haven't found the time + I moved the redundant "quasi-fiction" section to Short Stories, but it needs to be chronologically arranged. -- Simonides 21:30, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Have you got a citation on the Fuentes quotation? It would be perfect.
I agree on the removal of "quasi-fiction" as a separate category. I believe the list of individual pieces is completely arbitrary, just seems to be whatever anyone chose to dump there. I did about five days of careful research to try to do a comprehensive listing of book-length publications; no one has done anything comparable at the level of individual stories and essays. I have little idea what would make a valid principle of inclusion. I wish we could just link to a first-rate bibliography elsewhere, but there isn't much on line that's particularly good. The Aarhus bibliography is the best, but it is concerned only with original-language publication, it pretty much ignores posthumous publication, and it definitely has a few holes (as I found out in putting together the list of book-length publications). -- Jmabel | Talk 23:26, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)

Any reason for saying "fictional" short story in introduction is there another kind? (anon)

Nope, I'll strike it. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:45, 1 November 2004 (UTC)

"foremost writers"

I personally don't have a problem with "considered to be one of the foremost writers of the 20th century" -- he's one of my favorite writers, and I wrote almost half of this article, plus more about him elsewhere, so I am certainly not biased against him -- but I'd really rather see us find a reputable source that calls him something like that and quote it, rather than put such a POV statement in the narrative voice of the article. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:19, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)

Some excellent work has gone into this and other articles on Borges and if you were responsible for at least some of it, kudos to you. I do not think you or anyone who writes even in "formal" encyclopediae like the Britannica are necessarily "biased" against non-Anglo-American personalities, but the language itself betrays a strong POV that I've always found objectionable, as if, for ex., Orwell will always be a "major writer" whereas Proust will have to be content with being a "major French writer" - I hope you see what I mean. While all such statements are necessarily generalisations and POV of a sort, I don't think one can produce any real sources where reputation in the arts is concerned - they usually create the false impression that one has to rely on another well-known voice for recognition, and in such cases generalisations are probably the safest/ best option (i.e. imagine trying to attribute Plato's reputation to one or two quotes.) -- Simonides 08:20, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well, if one of those quotes were another prominent philosopher talking about how 2500 years later the questions he asked still largely define the scope of philosophy... Similarly, the Fuentes quote, if we can find it, would carry that kind of weight. Again, I don't really have a problem with your wording, but in matters like this, I almost always prefer an apropos quotation to a blind assertion in the narrative voice of the article. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:31, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)
Yes, in the case of Plato you have A. N. Whitehead's line, and such quotes do sound very potent, but that's precisely my complaint - they're rather empty generalisations, but instead of coming from the man on the street, they issue from a "figure of authority", when in fact there's no inherent difference, and in quoting them we reduce a very broad reputation/ complex body of work to a sound bite. I understand people like sound bites, but I think it's more consistent and fair (to the writer, to history, etc) to resist them unless there's a very appropriate passage within the article, or a section like "influence", where one can insert such a quote. -- Simonides 10:33, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
My $0.02. I wager that Borges would have been the first to say—and not just from modesty—that these sorts of statements, "considered to be one of the foremost..." "...among the greatest..." etc are meaningless. To show proper respect for Borges would be to let his work stand without begging the questions "considered by whom?" and "foremost among whom?" To invoke this imaginary congress of critics, this fictional process for establishing priority, reveals insecurity of we who are editors, not the importance of the subject. No skeptic is convinced when an editor invokes superlatives in the passive voice, or implies that some nameless authority nominated an author for a nonexistent award. That makes it all the more important that we make progress on the section outlining how Borges influenced other authors and cultural figures. It amuses and pains me to note that the editors of Wikipedia's James Joyce and Shakespeare (and no doubt others) likewise undermine their beloved subjects. user:munge 03:28 UMT 6 December 2004
Borges did win the Prix Goncourt, a fact omitted by the article. No he did not. My mistake user:munge 07:36 UMT 8 Dec 2004
I'm glad I was lazy about following up on that! -- Jmabel | Talk 08:00, 8 December 2004 (UTC)

Bibliography

The bibliography was recently and anonymously moved out "to reduce size of main article". This strikes me as completely wrongheaded. All it is likely to do is make the bibliography less well maintained and more subject to vandals (because it will be on fewer watchlists). Unless there is clear consensus against me within 48 hours, I intend to revert. -- Jmabel | Talk 17:19, 1 March 2005 (UTC)

Image

For me, at least, the image at the start of the article is showing up horizontally stretched. Does anyone know how to fix this? -- Jmabel | Talk 23:58, 3 July 2005 (UTC)

Dubious see-alsos

  • The Glass Bead Game
    • What does this have to do with Borges? (It also references back to this article in its see-also, again without clear motivation.)
  • Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Recognition
    • a fictional encyclopedia in a Borges story. So what? We have a Borges category, stick it in the category, but this article needn't link to it.

Barring that someone can make a good case for keeping these, I intend to delete them. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:32, July 26, 2005 (UTC)

Copied from User talk:Eequor:

Why did you interlink Jorge Luis Borges and The Glass Bead Game? It doesn't seem unimaginable to draw some kind of connection between the two, but just putting them in each other's "see also" list seems useless. I'd be comfortable saying that I'm pretty expert on Borges, and I read "The Glass Bead Game" some 30 years ago, and while I can see a certain intuitive connection, it seems more the type that is made by categories than by "see also".
Anyway, I'm inclined to delete this from the Borges article (which I have on my watchlist), but thought I'd ask you first in case there is a good explanation I'm missing. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:57, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)
I might point out that this sort of interconnection is entirely in line with the game. Doesn't it sound a lot like sth Borges would have written? It isn't a particularly surprising connection if one knows Borges translated some of Hermann Hesse's work, most likely including The Glass Bead Game, but it's a striking similarity that may be of interest to people who are familiar with Borges or with Hesse but not both.
It's difficult to think of a categorization that would capture the similarities between works analagous to The Glass Bead Game. What would appear natural and convey the subtle differences between these and other works? ᓛᖁ♀ 00:20, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Gaps in the Borges article are not as urgent as are the surpluses...be that as it may, if there is reason to believe B. translated it, there's a place for that in the article (International Themes table). That information is probably in Efraín Kristal's book on Borges & translation, which I don't have. Otherwise, the meta-category seems to be intertextuality. To oversimply only a little, literature about literature. Borges and koans are both "natural" references for that stub. I'd say Hesse normally is not but the Glass Bead Game (which I recently reread) is a clear exception. -user:munge 27 Nov 2004
I saw these links, too, and was puzzled. I wondered: what exactly is the connection here? If it can't be described -- even in a few words in the See Also sections -- it should, I think, be deleted.--Macrakis 23:38, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

<End material copied from Talk:Eequor>

I'm not sure how established the term is, but I remember a term from my undergraduate days "cosmographic fiction", which Khachig Tololyan used, and which would embrace these (and much of the work of Thomas Pynchon and Vladimir Nabokov). It doesn't seem to have come into common use, though, so I'm not sure it would be an acceptable category, might be considered a neologism. -- Jmabel | Talk 16:49, July 26, 2005 (UTC)

In any case, nothing in the foregoing convinces me that either link is appropriate, and I will remove them. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:11, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Islamic and Sufic, or Islamic/Sufic?

Question is, for purposes of this article, should the table of religious themes include a "Sufic" category, as it now does, separate from "Islamic"? Or not? Any support for adding the word "Syncretic" to the subtitle of the table, namely "Religious themes in Borges: Mainline, Mystical, Syncretic, and Heretical".?

Did Borges make a distinction or did he not see Sufic sources as Islamic mystics, much as he saw Bloy and Swedenborg as Christian mystics? My first choice is to add Sufic references, such as Farid Al Din Attar (Conference of the Birds), to the Islamic category, not have a separate Sufic category. After all, we don't have a separate category for Cabala or Zen, both of which people usually associate with their "parent" religions, but still sometimes consider as syncretic and unaffiliated with those "parents". Whatever we do, someone's going to consider it POV...so my attitude was, what was Borges' POV on this? Anybody read de Garayalde on this topic? Find it convincing? (Is she justified in listing Burton and Fitzgerald in her bibliography of Sufic sources?)

--Munge 07:55, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

  • About my only contribution to this is on Burton and Fitzgerald: these would seem justified, as translators. Borges, although very multilingual, did not read Arabic or Persian. He would have come to any Arabic or Persian works in translation. -- Jmabel | Talk 16:02, August 1, 2005 (UTC)

Notes toward resolution. In "The Simurgh and the Eagle" Borges wrote that "Behind the Eagle is the personal God of Israel and Rome; behind the magical Simurgh is pantheism" (as distinct from the monotheism that mainline Islam preaches). Similar remark in his film review, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Transformed". Also supporting the idea that Borges saw Sufic literature as syncretic there is a clue if you Google the phrase "Borges was familiar with Palacios's study of the Sufi", namely a 1931 book titled El Islam Cristianizado ("Christianized Islam"?). The remark asserting he was familliar with it apparently appears in "Borges the Post-Orientalist: Images of Islam from the Edge of the West", Ian Almond, Modern Fiction Studies, Summer 2004, v50 n2, pp. 435-459; abstract on this page but no access without password.

For that matter, maybe there should be a "Pagan" theme category, "House of Asterion", "The Circular Ruins", "The Immortals"?. You know, if one could justify a Sufi them category, maybe one might equally justify an Alchemical theme category, "The Wizard Who Was Made to Wait" and "A Rose for Paracelsus".

Still thinking about a solution. "Ones that belong to the emperor", "innumerable ones"...Interestingly, Averroes himself wrote, in his criticism of one Abu Hamid, "he adhered to no one doctrine in his books but was an Ash’arite with the Ash’arites, a Sufi with the Sufis and a philosopher with the philosophers...The imams of the Muslims ought to forbid those of his books which contain learned matter to all save the learned", according to this page. (I believe the Ash'arites were what we would now call pagans, worshippers of the goddess Asherah; see The Hebrew Goddess, Patai.) --Munge 07:21, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

OK, been a while. Here is my decision. Despite apparently contrary views by an author I respect (Idries Shah), whose publishing company produced the critical work in question (Jorge Luis Borges: Sources and Illumination by Giovanna de Garayalde, 1978, Octagon Press), most other sources including the Sufi wiki appear to hold that Sufism's origins are indeed Islamic. Moreover, any reason we did have for separating out Sufi would also seem to apply to other sects, leading to separate categories for Cabala/Hasidism, mystical Chrsitianity, and Zen. So in addition to having a dubious reason, it's also an impractical approach. Thus I can't justify or support a separate Sufi category at this time. I'm always open to a different line of reasoning. But I feel that any counter-claims (that Sufism predates Islam and that Borges clearly separated the two in his mind) are extraordinary and call for cites.
However, I am going to propose on the Bibliography of Jorge Luis Borges discussion page that we include a list of critical works such as that of de Garayalde, as well as stuff like Signs of Borges by Sylvia Molloy (another book I have doubts about, but is probably a good book for people who like that kind of book).
On the other issues that came up in the course of this: Pagan was an obvious omission that I will remedy. Other issues that came up: I don't know that alchemical practices were a religion, so no Alchemy category at this time. And I lean away from making the title of the table any more unweildy than it already is, so I'm not adding the word syncretic to it at this time. --Munge 06:47, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
So I did that, and have one more comment. I deleted the category "Mystical" because I find that B's interests in religion were very heavily weighted toward the mystical aspects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and maybe Buddhism. As it stood, the article formerly implied that somehow Swedenborg was more deserving of the term mystical than Erigena or Attar or the Cabalists...A can of worms. Also, this way, the categories correspond to actual religions, except for the one "Fictional" religions category. --Munge 07:35, 13 January 2006 (UTC)