Jorge Luis Borges
by Jason Wilson
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“Through the years, a man peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people. Shortly before his death, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face.”
These words, inseparably marrying Jorge Luis Borges's life and work, encapsulate how he interwove the two throughout his legendary career. But the Borges of popular imagination is the blind, lauded librarian and man of letters; few biographers have explored his tumultuous early life in the streets and cafes of Buenos Aires, a young man searching for his path in the world. In Jorge Luis Borges, Jason Wilson uncovers the young poet who wrote, loved, and lost with adventurous passion, and he considers the later work and life of the writer who claimed he never created a character other than himself. As Borges declared, “It’s always me, subtly disguised.”
Born in Buenos Aires in 1899, Borges was a voracious reader from childhood, perhaps in part because he knew he lived under an inescapable sentence of adult-onset blindness inherited from his father. Wilson chronicles Borges’s life as he raced against time and his fated blindness, charting the literary friendships, love affairs, and polemical writings that formed the foundation of his youth. Illuminating the connections running between the biography and fictions of Borges, Wilson traces the outline of this self-effacing literary figure.
Though in his later writings Borges would subjugate emotion to the wild play of ideas, this bracing book reminds us that his works always recreated his life in subtle and delicate ways. Restoring Borges to his Argentine roots, Jorge Luis Borges will be an invaluable resource for all those who treasure this modern master.
- Reaktion Books, October 2006
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