Sunday, 14 June 2015

Jorge Luis Borges

Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges exerted a strong influence on the direction of literary fiction through his genre-bending metafictions, essays, and poetry. Borges was a founder, and principal practitioner, of postmodernist literature, a movement in which literature distances itself from life situations in favor of reflection on the creative process and critical self-examination. Widely read and profoundly erudite, Borges was a polymath who could discourse on the great literature of Europe and America and who assisted his translators as they brought his work into different languages. He was influenced by the work of such fantasists as Edgar Allan Poe and Franz Kafka, but his own fiction "combines literary and extraliterary genres in order to create a dynamic, electric genre," to quote Alberto Julián Pérez in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Pérez also noted that Borges's work "constitutes, through his extreme linguistic conscience and a formal synthesis capable of representing the most varied ideas, an instance of supreme development in and renovation of narrative techniques. With his exemplary literary advances and the reflective sharpness of his metaliterature, he has effectively influenced the destiny of literature." 

Under his grandmother's tutelage, Borges learned to read English before he could read Spanish. Among the first English-language books he read were works by Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth LongfellowRobert Louis Stevenson, and H. G. Wells. In Borges's autobiographical essay, he recalled reading even the great Spanish masterpiece, Cervantes's Don Quixote, in English before reading it in Spanish. Borges's father encouraged writing as well as reading: Borges wrote his first story at age seven and, at nine, saw his own Spanish translation of Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince" published in a Buenos Aires newspaper. "From the time I was a boy," Borges noted, "it was tacitly understood that I had to fulfill the literary destiny that circumstances had denied my father. This was something that was taken for granted. . . . I was expected to be a writer." 

“A writer – and, I believe, generally all persons – must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

The Art of Poetry 
To gaze at a river made of time and water 
and remember that Time is another river. 
To know we stray like a river 
and our faces vanish like water. 

To feel that waking is another dream 
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death 
we fear in our bones is the death 
that every night we call a dream. 

To see in every day and year a symbol 
of all the days of man and his years, 
and convert the outrage of the years 
into a music, a sound, and a symbol. 

To see in death a dream, in the sunset 
a golden sadness, such is poetry, 
humble and immortal, poetry, 
returning, like dawn and the sunset. 

Sometimes at evening there’s a face 
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror. 
Art must be that sort of mirror, 
disclosing to each of us his face. 

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders, 
wept with love on seeing Ithaca, 
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca, 
a green eternity, not wonders. 

Art is endless like a river flowing, 
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same 
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same 
and yet another, like the river flowing.

 Borges in his own voice:

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