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Jorge Luis Borges

also known as Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo

educator , writer

Jorge Luis BORGES, Argentinian writer;. member national culture commission, 1945.

Background

BORGES, Jorge Luis was born on August 24, 1899 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Education

Borges was taught at home until the age of 11, bilingual, reading Shakespeare in English at the age of twelve. The family lived in a large house with an English library of over one thousand volumes.

Career

Borges produced major works in three genres—poetry, essays, and short fiction. His first major books of poetry, Fervor de Buenos Aires and Luna de enfrente, are avant-garde collections influenced by the Ultraist movement; the poems combine urban settings and themes, metaphysical speculations, and a pronounced, often surreal, use of symbolism. His later poetry tends to be more conservative in style. The poems collected in El hacedor (1960; Dreamtigers) and Antologia personal (1961; A Personal Anthology), for example, employ rhyme and meter, ruminate on personal themes, and make reference to his own as well as other works of literature. Borges's works of fiction and nonfiction, as critics note, are often difficult to distinguish from one another. It is frequently observed that many of Borges's short stories are written in essay form; his essays often treat subject matter other authors deal with in fiction; and the very short works he called "parables" seem to defy classification, sharing the qualities of poetry, essays, and short stories. Borges's essay collections—including Inquisiciones (1925), Discusión (1932), and Otras inquisiciones, 1937–1952 (1952; Other Inquisitions, 1937–1952)—address a wide variety of issues and represent many diverse styles. For example, Discusión collects film reviews, articles on metaphysical and aesthetic topics, and includes the essay "Narrative Art and Magic," in which Borges asserts the capacity of fantasy literature to address realistic concerns. Borges's first collection of short stories, A Universal History of Infamy, purports to be an encyclopedia of world criminals, containing brief, seemingly factual accounts of such real and mythical characters as "The Dread Redeemer Lazarus Morell," "The Disinterested Killer Bill Harrigan" (Billy the Kid), and "The Masked Dyer, Hakim of Merv." Ficciones contains many of Borges's most famous works of fiction. In "The Garden of Forking Paths" Borges combines elements of nonfiction writing—for example footnotes, references to scholarly works, and a detached, objective tone of voice—with metaphysical concepts and the structure of a detective story to show how two seemingly unrelated events—crimes committed at different points in history—intersect and resolve each other in a single moment. The enlarged English edition of El Aleph (1949), entitled The Aleph, and Other Stories, 1933–1969 (1970), consists of stories and essays from various periods in Borges's career. In addition to realistic as well as metaphysical stories, the book also includes his informative "Autobiographical Essay."

Works

  • book of essays

    • Inquisitions (Inquisiciones) (1925)

  • book of poetry

    • The Fervor of Buenos Aires (Fervor de Buenos Aires) (1923)

  • book of stories and other writings

    • Labyrinths (1962)

  • collection of essays

    • Other Inquisitions (Otras inquisiciones) (1952)

  • collection of prose and poetry

    • Dreamtigers (El Hacedor) (1960)

  • collection of short stories

    • The Garden of Forking Paths (El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan) (1941)

    • Fictions (Ficciones) (1944)

    • The Aleph (El Aleph) (1949)

  • prose

    • Universal History of Infamy (Historia universal de la infamia) (1935)

Politics

Politically, Jorge Luis Borges was against Peronism, Marxism and Communism.

As a political conservative, Borges "was repulsed by Marxism in theory and practice. Abhorring sentimentality, he rejected the politics and poetics of cultural identity that held sway in Latin America for so long." As a universalist, his interest in world literature reflected an attitude that was also incongruent with the Peronist Populist nationalism. That government's confiscation of Borges's job at the Miguel Cané Library fueled his skepticism of government. He labeled himself a Spencerian anarchist, following his father.

Membership

Member national culture commission, 1945.

Interests

  • Philosophers & Thinkers

    Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Plato, Virgil, Nietzsche.

  • Other Interests

    His favorite film director was Josef von Sternberg, whom he called a "cinematic novelist".

Connections

father:
Jorge Borges

mother:
Leonor Acevedo