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Rare Medium

Renovating Fiction

A collection of 11 prose pieces by the great Jorge Luis Borges.

Book Cover Forgive me if you have a problem with me honoring another dead white man but, in my world, to ignore the publication of a book by Jorge Luis Borges, who died in 1986, would be entirely unforgivable.

In this case, a new, compact anthology, Everything and Nothing (New Directions) by various translators (Donald A. Yates, James Irby, John M. Fein, and Eliot Weinberger) that the publisher claims “collects the best of Borges’ highly influential work” written in the 1930s and ‘40s—“anticipating, among other things, the internet, quantum mechanics, and cloning.”

Donald Yates’s introduction recalls:
When the first English language collections of the writings of Jorge Luis Borges appeared in 1961 they attracted immediate critical attention. But almost as remarkable as the singular flavor of these story-like essays and essay-like fictions was the knowledge that Borges, virtually unknown in the U.S. until then, had been elaborating these strikingly original narratives in the distant confines of his native Argentina. That this author quietly, almost secretly had been producing in Buenos Aires, so far removed from the crossroads of Western culture, a body of work that unquestionably placed him among the major writers of our time was part of the mystique that surrounded the blind poet and his work.
This pocket-sized mini-collection, containing 11 selections, includes “Borges and I,” “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” “Death and the Compass,” and “Blindness.” There is a lot to be said about it and the author—striking, though, is the concise, almost terse string of blurbs that accrue to Borges:
I could live under a table reading Borges.—Roberto Bolaño

He more than anyone else renovated the language of fiction.—J.M. Coetzee

Borges stretched the paradigms as effortlessly as one might tip his hat and wink.—William Gibson

His is the literature of Eternity.—Peter Ackroyd
Yes, indeed.
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