Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges (hôr´hā lōōēs´ bôr´hās), 1899–1986, Argentine poet, critic, and short-story writer, b. Buenos Aires. Borges has been widely hailed as the foremost contemporary Spanish-American writer. He was educated in Switzerland and afterward lived in Spain, where he became an exponent of ultraísmo, a poetic movement that followed the decline of modernismo after World War I. Ultraísmo advocated the use of bold images and daring metaphors in an attempt to create pure poetry, divorced not only from the past but from reality. Borges, who brought the movement to Argentina, never adhered strictly to its tenets. He helped to found three avant-garde journals and was director of the National Library and professor of English at the Univ. of Buenos Aires.

His poems, collected in Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923), Luna de enfrente (1925), Cuaderno San Martín (1954), Dreamtigers (tr. 1964), A Personal Anthology (tr. 1967), Selected Poems: 1923–1967 (1972), and In Praise of Darkness (tr. 1974), are often inspired by events of daily life or episodes of Argentine history. Characterized by lyricism, imagination, and boldness, they are, he said, "spiritual adventures." His essays, collected in Inquisiciones (1925), Otras inquisiciones (1960, tr. 1964), and the translations in Selected Nonfictions (1999) generally deal with philosophy and literary criticism. His tales, ranging from metaphysical allegories and fantasies (e.g., The Book of Imaginary Beings, 1967; tr. 1969) to sophisticated detective yarns, reveal a wide variety of influences (Kafka, Chesterton, Virginia Woolf) but are nevertheless strikingly original. Major collections of his short stories include Historia universal de la infamia (1935, tr. 1972), Ficciones (1944, tr. 1962), El Aleph (1949, tr. 1970), Extraordinary Tales (1955, tr. 1971), and Dr. Brodie's Report (tr. 1972). Labyrinths (1962) is a collection of translated works, and Collected Fictions (1998) contains his complete stories in translation.

See biographies by J. Woodall (1997) and E. Williamson (2004); R. Burgin, Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges (1969); studies by A. M. Barrenechea (tr. 1965), R. J. Christ (1969), C. Wheelock (1969), J. Alazraki (1971), and G. H. Bell-Villada (1981).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Six Masters of the Spanish Sonnet: Essays and Translations
Francisco de Quevedo; Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Antonio Machado; Federico Garcia Lorca; Jorge Borges Luis; Miguel Hernández; Willis Barnstone.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Jorge Luis Borges" begins on p. 189
The Critical Poem: Borges, Paz, and Other Language-Centered Poets in Latin America
Thorpe Running.
Bucknell University Press, 1996
The Truth Is in the Making: Borges and Pragmatism
Bosteels, Bruno.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 98, No. 2-3, March-May 2007
Transcending the Caesura: The Reading Effects of Borges's Fiction
Priel, Beatriz.
International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 92, No. 6, December 2011
Fiction Refracts Science: Modernist Writers from Proust to Borges
Allen Thiher.
University of Missouri Press, 2005
The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel
William Goldbloom Block.
Oxford University Press, 2008
The Catastrophe of Modernity: Tragedy and the Nation in Latin American Literature
Patrick Dove.
Bucknell University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Visages of the Other: On a Phantasmatic Recurrence in Borges' 'El Sur'"
Ravishing Tradition: Cultural Forces and Literary History
Daniel Cottom.
Cornell University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Conspiring with Tradition: Jorge Luis Borges and the Question of the Miracle"
Archetype, Architecture, and the Writer
Bettina L. Knapp.
Indiana University Press, 1986
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "Borges: 'The Library of Babel': The Archetypal Hexagonal Gallery"
Theoretical Fables: The Pedagogical Dream in Contemporary Latin American Fiction
Alicia Borinsky.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Taming the Reader: Jorge Luis Borges"
Faulkner, Borges, and the Translation of the Wild Palms: The Evolution of Borges's Theory concerning the Role of the Reader in the Game of Literature
Fitz, Earl E.; Fitz, Ezra E.
The Faulkner Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1, Fall 2008
Postmodernist Fiction
Brian McHale.
Routledge, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Jorge Luis Borges begins on p. 103
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