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Productive Mischief

Michael Wood: Borges and Borges and I

4 February 1999
Collected Fictions 
by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley.
Allen Lane, 565 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 14 028680 2
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... Irby, but also by Yates, Kerrigan, L.A. Murillo, Dudley Fitts, Julian Palley, Harriet de Onis, John Fein? There are also the volumes, notably The Aleph (1970) and Dr Brodie’s Report (1972), which NormanThomasdiGiovanni translated in collaboration with Borges. Well, which of these versions do you prefer? ‘I come from a vertiginous country where the lottery forms a principal part of reality ...

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 Luis Borges 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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... The freckled drawing on the cover of Günter Grass’s latest novel shows a hand just emerging from a rubble of old stones and holding a quill. The quill is lightly and sensitively poised, the hand could be meaning to draw or to write as Grass himself both writes and draws. It is, that is to say, the hand of a writer who in his writing is an artist, and the drawing asks in effect: in a harsh or devastated ...

How to vanish

Michael Dibdin

23 April 1987
The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis 
by Humberto Costantini, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni.
Fontana, 193 pp., £3.50, January 1987, 0 00 654180 1
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Requiem for a Woman’s Soul 
by Omar Rivabella, translated by Paul Riviera.
Penguin, 116 pp., £2.95, February 1987, 0 14 009773 2
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Words in Commotion, and Other Stories 
by Tommaso Landolfi, translated by Ring Jordan and Lydia Jordan.
Viking, 273 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 80518 1
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The Literature Machine 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Patrick Creagh.
Secker, 341 pp., £16, April 1987, 0 436 08276 4
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The St Veronica Gig Stories 
by Jack Pulaski.
Zephyr, 170 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 939010 09 7
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Kate Vaiden 
by Reynolds Price.
Chatto, 306 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 7011 3203 5
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... To vanish from sight; be traceable no farther; cease to be present; be lost, especially without explanation.’ The verb in question normally behaves intransitively, but in Argentina after 1976 it learned to take a direct object as the military regime disappeared between nine and twenty thousand people. Humberto Costantini and Omar Rivabella both write about this, but their approach is so different ...

Don’t abandon me

Colm Tóibín: Borges and the Maids

11 May 2006
Borges: A Life 
by Edwin Williamson.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, August 2005, 0 14 024657 6
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... They were married in 1967. The marriage was not a success. Once more, Borges was luckier in his friendships than in his loves. In 1967, in the United States, he met the translator and writer NormanThomasdiGiovanni, then in his mid-thirties. Over the next few years, as he moved to Buenos Aires, diGiovanni co-ordinated the translation of Borges’s poetry into English, using some of the best ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?

2 June 2005
The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... of arms, a double dubbing, so to speak. In 1626 John Gostlin, Master of Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, dictated his will. He was to be buried alongside a former master of the college, Thomas Legge, who had died twenty years earlier. Gostlin had commissioned a memorial to his friend which you can see on the south wall of the college chapel. Legge kneels in prayer. Beneath him hands clutch ...

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