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The Unreachable Real

Michael Wood: Borges, 8 July 2010

The Sonnets 
by Jorge LuisBorges, edited by Stephen Kessler.
Penguin, 311 pp., $18, March 2010, 978 0 14 310601 2
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Poems of the Night 
by Jorge LuisBorges, edited by Efraín Kristal.
Penguin, 200 pp., $17, March 2010, 978 0 14 310600 5
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... When Jorge LuisBorges was dying in Geneva in 1986, a friend committed an elegant Freudian act of homage. He mentioned Borges’s book of poems The Golden Coin and was instantly corrected: The Iron Coin. The friend was embarrassed but Borges reassured him: ‘Don’t worry ...

Goodbye to Borges

John Sturrock, 7 August 1986

Atlas 
by Jorge LuisBorges, in collaboration with by Maria Kodama, translated by Anthony Kerrigan.
Viking, 95 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 670 81029 0
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Seven Nights 
by Jorge LuisBorges, translated by Eliot Weinberger.
Faber, 121 pp., £3.95, June 1986, 0 571 13737 7
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... Borges died on 14 June, in Geneva – which bare fact virtually calls for an ‘English papers please copy,’ as they used to say, so complacently scant and grudging were the notices which we were given to read at the time. There was much Englishness about him, starting with his mother’s family, which was English, but obvious also in the plain way that he wrote, and in the humour with which he used to deprecate his own high literary standing ...

Productive Mischief

Michael Wood: Borges and Borges and I, 4 February 1999

Collected Fictions 
by Jorge LuisBorges, translated by Andrew Hurley.
Allen Lane, 565 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 14 028680 2
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... Not everyone can be Whitman,’ Borges said in an interview in London long ago. He paused, pretending to reflect. ‘Not even Whitman could be Whitman.’ We knew Borges was only pretending to reflect because we recognised the joke and the timing as belonging so perfectly to him, a Borges short story in miniature, a shortest story ...

Faber Book of Groans

Christopher Ricks, 1 March 1984

Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 
by Philip Larkin.
Faber, 315 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 571 13120 4
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... Sometimes things are such that he does have to press on to give the Reply Churlish (‘Who’s Jorge LuisBorges?’), and the Reproof Valiant (What do you think about Mrs Thatcher? ‘Oh, I adore Mrs Thatcher’), and even the Countercheck Quarrelsome (‘Oh, for Christ’s sake, one doesn’t study poets!’). But ...

Möbius Strip

Dan Jacobson, 3 December 1981

K: A Biography of Kafka 
by Ronald Hayman.
Weidenfeld, 349 pp., £16.50, October 1981, 0 297 77996 6
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Stories 1904-1924 
by Franz Kafka, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Macdonald, 271 pp., £7.50, November 1981, 9780354046398
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... without the kind of sanction once provided by the Mosaic Law remained for ever intolerable. As Jorge LuisBorges puts it, in his introduction to the new translation by J.A. Underwood of the stories published in Kafka’s lifetime: ‘His stories ... presuppose a religious conscience, specifically a Jewish conscience ...

Stones

John Harvey, 6 August 1981

A Confederacy of Dunces 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Allen Lane, 338 pp., £7.95, May 1981, 9780713914221
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The Meeting at Telgte 
by Günter Grass, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Secker, 147 pp., £5.95, June 1981, 0 436 18778 7
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Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi 
by Jorge LuisBorges and Adolfo Bioy-Casares, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 7139 1421 1
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Penny Links 
by Ursula Holden.
Eyre Methuen, 156 pp., £5.50, May 1981, 0 413 47210 8
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... as well as to echo it? A certain elegant resignation in the face of that task is written into Borges’s early collection of stories, done in collaboration with Adolfo Bioy-Casares, Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi. They are elaborate amusements of a buried life, though the Grass drawing in this case could as well show a hand reaching through bars as ...

Don’t abandon me

Colm Tóibín: Borges and the Maids, 11 May 2006

BorgesA Life 
by Edwin Williamson.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, August 2005, 0 14 024657 6
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... as a way of killing the father off, showing his mother who was the real man in the household. Jorge LuisBorges was in Majorca in 1919, writing his first poems as his father, Jorge Guillermo Borges, was working on his only novel, which, like ...

Pine Trees and Vices

John Bayley, 9 April 1992

The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales 
edited by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 533 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 19 214194 5
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... Nathaniel Hawthorne (‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’), Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, Jorge LuisBorges (‘The Gospel according to Mark’) might seem to point the other way – and all are included here. The effect of some could be said to hover over that debatable ground where delicious literary fear ...

Root Books

Julie Davidson, 7 November 1985

Henry Root’s A-Z of Women 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 180 pp., £7.95, July 1985, 0 297 78593 1
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... and the distinguished, neatly making the distinction between the two: ‘Was it Clive James or Jorge LuisBorges, the famous Argentine poet, who pointed out that if we saw every leaf on the tree we would go mad?’ But it takes a talent of greater stamina and range to realise these skills over 184 pages, including ...

Ludic Cube

Angela Carter, 1 June 1989

Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel in 100,000 Words 
by Milorad Pavic, translated by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric.
Hamish Hamilton, 338 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 241 12658 4
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... but delinquent reprint of the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1902’, in which Bioy Cesares and Jorge LuisBorges discovered the first recorded reference to the land of Uqbar. But instead of, like Borges, writing a story about a fake reference book that invades the real ...

A Book at Bedtime

William Gass, 10 November 1994

The Arabian Nights: A Companion 
by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 344 pp., £20, January 1994, 0 7139 9105 4
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... Arab town stumble and twist into a market square? In order, later, to present for the pleasure of Jorge LuisBorges the offspring of a labyrinth? Or as if many days, over and done with and torn from the calendar, had nevertheless survived their own passing to come together and shape another life – a night life, this ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter, 15 November 1984

Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... a Nabokov, a John Berger, three Doris Lessings, a Gore Vidal, two John Barths, and the whole of Jorge LuisBorges.’ This impatience with literary artefacts means that he and Camilla are also veteran walkers-out at the theatre. ‘Before ten minutes of the first scene had elapsed we were up out of our seats ... We ...

Singular Rebellions

Walter Nash, 19 May 1988

Scandal 
by Shusaku Endo, translated by Van Gessel.
Peter Owen, 237 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 7206 0682 9
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Hell Screen, Cogwheels, A Fool’s Life 
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
Eridanos, 145 pp., £13.95, March 1988, 0 941419 02 9
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Singular Rebellion 
by Saiichi Maruya, translated by Dennis Keene.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 233 98202 7
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... enigmatic, sometimes charming, always full of poetic intensity. In his preface to this volume Jorge LuisBorges refers to ‘a certain restrained sorrow, a certain preference for the visual, a certain lightness of stroke’, and calls these qualities ‘essentially Japanese’. This describes well the texts that ...

Mystery and Imagination

Stephen Bann, 17 November 1983

The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill and John Lawrence.
Hamish Hamilton, 160 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 241 10987 6
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Legion 
by William Peter Blatty.
Collins, 252 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 00 222735 5
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The Lost Flying Boat 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 288 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 246 12236 6
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Snow, and Other Stories 
by Antony Lambton.
Quartet, 134 pp., £6.95, September 1983, 0 7043 2407 5
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New Islands, and Other Stories 
by Maria Luisa Bombal, translated by Richard Cunningham, Lucia Cunningham and Jorge LuisBorges.
Faber, 112 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 571 12052 0
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The Antarctica Cookbook 
by Crispin Kitto.
Duckworth, 190 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7156 1762 1
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Sole Survivor 
by Maurice Gee.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13017 8
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... fine writer of the older generation, who amply deserves the endorsement which she receives from Borges’s brief but laudatory preface. That she is a woman writer, who was born in Chile in 1910 and died as recently as 1980, puts her beyond doubt among those whom the dust-jacket terms ‘the precursors of a modern feminist sensibility, a new kind of writing ...

Troglodytes

Patrick Parrinder, 25 October 1990

Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination 
by Rosalind Williams.
MIT, 265 pp., £22.50, March 1990, 9780262231459
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The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne 
by Andrew Martin.
Oxford, 222 pp., £27.50, May 1990, 0 19 815798 3
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... in revolt against an empire, a legend which is retold in narratives by Napoleon Bonaparte and Jorge LuisBorges, although it is never made explicit in the Voyages Extraordinaires. The prophet becomes an oppressor in the course of his revolt. This means (and the same is true for Williams) that Verne’s archetypal ...

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