Extraído de Enciclopedia Británica
Macropedia, Vol. 3
"Borges, Jorge Luis.
Since 1961, when he and Samuel Beckett shared the prestigious international
award the Formentor Prize, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges
has seen his tales and poems increasingly acclaimed as classics
of 20th-century world literature. Prior to that time, Borges was
little known, in his native Buenos Aires, except to other writers,
many of whom regarded him merely as a craftsman of ingenious techniques
and tricks. Now, the nightmare world of his "fiction",
which are often compared to the stories of Franz Kafka, are praised
for concentrating common language into its most enduring form. Trough
his work more than that of any other contemporary, Latin-American
literature emerges from the academic realm into that of generally
educated readers throughout the Western world.
Borges was born on August 24, 1899, in Buenos Aires and was raised
in the shabby suburb of Palermo, the setting of some of his works.
His family, which had been notable in Argentine history, included
British ancestry, and he learned English before Spanish. The first
books he read -from the library of his father, a man of wide-ranging
intellect who taught at an English school- included Huckleberry
Finn, the novels of H. G. Wells, The Thousand and One Nights,
and Don Quixote, all in English. Under the constant stimulus
and example of his father, the young Borges from his earliest years
realized that he was destined for a literary career.
In 1914, on the eve of World War I, Borges was taken by his family
to Geneva, Switzerland, where he learned French and German and received
his B. A. from the Collège de Genève. Leaving there
in 1919, the family spent a year in Majorca and a year in Spain,
where Borges joined the young writers of the Ultraist movement,
a group that rebelled against that it considered the decadence of
the established writers of the "generation of '98."
Returning to Buenos Aires in 1921, Borges rediscovered his native
city and began to sing of its beauty in poems that imaginatively
reconstructed its past and present. His first published book was
a volume of poems, Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923). He is also
credited with establishing the Ultraist movement in South America,
though he later repudiated it. This period of his career, which
included the authorship of several volumes of essays and poems and
the founding of three literary journals, ended with a biography,
Evaristo Carriego (1930).
During his next phase, Borges gradually overcame his shyness in
creating pure fiction. At first he preferred to retell the lives
of more or less infamous men, as in the sketches of his Historia
universal de la infamia. To earn his living, in 1938 he took
a major post at a Buenos Aires library named for one of his ancestors.
He remained there for nine unhappy years.
In 1938, the year his father died, Borges suffered a severe head
wound, and subsequent blood poisoning, which left him near dead,
bereft of speech, and fearing for his sanity. This experience appears
to have freed in him the deepest forces of creation. In the next
eight years he produced his best fantastic stories, those later
collected in the series of Ficciones and the volume titled
The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933-69. During this time, he
and another writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares, jointly wrote detective
stories under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq, (com-bining ancestral
names of the two writers' families), which were published in 1942
as Seis problemas para don Isidro Parodi ("Six Problems
for Don Isidro Parodi"). The works of this period revealed
for the first time Borges's entire dreamworld, an ironical or paradoxical
version of the real one, with its own language and systems of symbols.
When the dictatorship of Juan Perón came to power in 1946,
Borges was dismissed from his library position for having expressed
support of the Allies in World War II. With the help of friends,
he earned his way by lecturing, editing, and writing. A 1952 collection
of essays, Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952 revealed him at
his analytical best.
When Perón was deposed in 1955, Borges became director of
the national library, an honorific position, and also professor
of English and American literature at the University of Buenos Aires.
By this time, Borges suffered from total blindness, a hereditary
affliction that had also attacked his father and had progressively
diminished his own eyesight from the 1920s onward. It had forced
him to abandon the writing of long texts and to begin dictating
to his mother or to secretaries or friends.
The works that date from this late period, such as Dreamtigers
and The Book of Imaginary Beings, almost erase the distinctions
between the genres of prose and poetry. A later collection of stories,
El informe de Brodie (1970; "Doctor Brodie's Report"),
comprises tales of revenge, murder, and horror-allegories combining
the simplicity of a folk storyteller with the complex vision of
a man who has explored the labyrinths of his own being to its core.
POEMS: Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923); Luna de enfrente
(1925); Cuaderno San Martin (1929); Poemas (1943);
Poemas 1923-1953 (1954); Poemas (1958); Obra poética,
1923-1966 (1966; vol. 6 of Borges' Obras completas).
PROSE (ESSAYS): Inquisiciones (1925), miscellaneous essays;
El tamaño de mi esperanza (1926), collected essays;
El idioma de los argentinos (1928), essays, one of which was
revised and included in El lenguaje de Buenos Aires (1963);
Discusión (1932); Historia de la eternidad
(1936); Aspectos de la literatura gauchesca (1951); El
"Martin Fierro" (1953), Otras Inquisiciones
(1937-1952) (1952; Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952, 1964);
Crónicas de Bustos Domecq (1967), on aesthetics. (SHORT
STORIES AND PARABLES): Historia uiversal de la infamia (1935),
translations, adaptations, original stories, and parables; El
iardín de senderos que se bifurcan (1942), collected
stories; Ficciones 1935-1944 (1944; several later series,
6th enl. ed., 1966), stories; El Aleph (1949; The Aleph and
Other Stories, 1933-69, ed. and trans. by Norman Thomas di Giovanni
in collaboration with the author, 1970), collected stories; La
muerte y la brújula (1951), collected stories; El
hacedor (1960; Dreamtigers, 1964), collected stories,
parables, and poems; El libro de los seres imaginarios (1967;
The Book of Imaginary Beings, written by Borges with Margarita Guerrero,
rev. and trans. by Norman Thomas di Giovanni in collaboration with
the author, 1969). (BIOGRAPHY): Evaristo Carriego (1930).
(ANTHOLOGIES): Chosen by Borges from his own published and unpublished
writings Antologia personal (1961), stories, essays, and
poems; trans. in A Personal Anthology, ed. by A. Kerrigan
(1967). Other Eng. trans. in Labyrinths: Selected Stories and
Other Writings of J. L. Borges, ed. and trans. by D.A. Yates
and J.E. Irby (1962; rev, ed. 1970); Fictions, selections
from the series of Ficciones, ed. and trans. by A. Kerrigan
BIBLIOGRAPHY. ANA MARIA BARRENECHEA, La expresión de
la irrealidad en la obra de Jorge Luis Borges (1957); Eng. (trans.,
Borges, the Labyrinth Maker, 1965), the best critical study,
with bibliography; RONALD CHRIST, The Narrow Act: Borges' Art
of Allusion (1969), a very perceptive analysis of one of Borges'
key methods of creation; MARTIN S. STABB, Jorge Luis Borges
(1970), a superficial over-all presentation; EMIR RODRIGUEZ MONEGAL,
Borgès par lui-même (1970), a critical introduction,