Armen Chakmakjian

Jorge Luis Borges

In Literature on August 30, 2008 at 5:24 am

OK so how did I get into the writing of Jorge Luis Borges? First off, I can’t read spanish, so everything I’ve read has been a translation to English. Nevertheless this is how it happened:

I was reading a book called Buckley: The Right Word back in the 90’s which was a collection of writing excerpts and interviews by William Buckley.   One of the interviews was a transcript of one of his favorite writers, Jorge Luis Borges, whose name I knew, but whose work I had never read.   So after reading that excerpt, I went to a bookstore and bought my first Borges collection Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. The first story, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, completely caught me off guard.  I was so completely blown away I had to read it twice just to make sure I really read what I had read.  I finished the book and bought several other works and collections including 7 nights and the one on imaginary beings.

Many years before, sometime in the 80’s I read The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco.  Sometime after starting to read Borges I was  watching the Sean Connery movie version on TV of the book was when I put 2 and 2 together and saw that Eco’s main sinister character, the blind old monk protecting humanity from the library Jorge of Burgos was Eco’s homage to Borges.   As you know, Borges was the director of the national library of Argentina and also blind.   Only Borges could live something he could have created in a story.  I remember when I came to the realization during the movie I yelled out “OH MAN”

So if you want to make your brain hurt, in short bursts, read some Borges.  If you can get your hands on the Buckley book, read the interview…no matter how you feel about Buckley, its really about Borges and it was a great interview.

  1. I also happen’d to have some “prenatal” familiarity with Borges before I had ever read a word of his fiction.. However after enteriing and exiting many bookshops in a row, I could only locate the voluminous Selected Non-Fiction.

    His very first essay Nothingness of Personality swept me away.

    That we change moment2moment and cannot cling to any one of our myriad selves. His essay Personality and the Buddha written many years later also carries forward the same strain of thought.

    Viva Borges!

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