The Lesson of the Master: On Borges and His Work

The Lesson of the Master ~ On Borges and his Work
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It was, of course, a disaster. Borges Junior was shocked at the idea that he was sharing a woman with his father.

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Afterwards, according to Williamson, the adolescent Borges was taken to see a doctor who recommended a change of climate and fresh air and exercise. Or else Borges put the name in for no reason, just as he briefly allowed in the same story American bank-notes to carry a date. We do have real evidence, however, that Borges went to brothels in Majorca in His literary group used to meet in a brothel, or what innocent young men might have thought was a brothel.

She was like a cathedral and also like a bitch. While it is possible some of this is true, it reads more like boasting and is treated with caution by Williamson. Williamson, however, follows every lead. Each intellectual woman who rejected Borges is given star treatment, and he cleverly finds clues in the poems and stories. Borges, during all this time, was living with his mother and going slowly blind. Estela Canto … Yes, Mother.


Williamson lists many of the other women with whom Borges was in love. By the late s, Borges was blind. Some of the time his mother, now almost ninety, accompanied him. Borges dreamed of marriage, of getting away from her. She helped him by suggesting a woman whom he had known years earlier, now widowed. She was called Elsa Astete. She was not smart or high enough on the social scale for Bioy or his wife. They were married in The marriage was not a success.

Once more, Borges was luckier in his friendships than in his loves. In , in the United States, he met the translator and writer Norman Thomas di Giovanni, then in his mid-thirties. He also worked with Borges on translating his prose works into English, and coaxed him into producing new stories and a long autobiographical piece for the New Yorker. When Borges wanted to leave his wife, di Giovanni masterminded his departure. Since there was no divorce in Argentina in , they had to move with care. Elsa had no clue that he was going to leave her. I lay in wait for Borges in the doorway of the National Library, and the moment he arrived I leaped into his taxi and off we sped for the intown airport.

Borges, a trembling leaf and utterly exhausted after a sleepless night, confessed that his greatest fear had been that he might blurt the whole thing out to Elsa at any moment. Elsa was at home making puchero , a stew. She had asked Borges as he went out the door what he wanted for lunch. In the early years of the 21st century, Jorge Luis Borges and Bioy Casares joined Marcel Proust and Lillian Hellman to become a distinguished band of writers whose maids wrote books about them. It is clear that she felt a great deal of affection for Bioy and his wife; despite her best intentions, however, she managed to portray them as capricious and mad and permanently horny, a wealthy pair of monsters, like two figures in an early Polanski film.

Silvina was 12 years older than him.

Liberty, Individuality, and Democracy in Jorge Luis Borges

Jovina came to work for them ten years later and stayed with them until the death of Bioy in Bioy loved women. I love women so much that if a broomstick dressed up as a woman, I would follow that broomstick. When, after supper, he and Borges collaborated on their books, Jovina noticed that they roared with laughter. Bioy made no bones about his affairs. One day, for example, he arrived home with a baby, who was thereafter brought up in his household as his daughter. Later, other fruits of his great sexual energy would emerge. Silvina believed that Jovina had powers and every time she sent one of her manuscripts or a manuscript by Bioy to the publishers she would make Jovina touch the pages to give them luck.

Jorge Luis Borges, A Master of Fantasy and Fable, is Dead

I would like to leave no image of me. Often, it seems that writers need a certain degree of bullheadishness to pursue writing, but although Borges may have been spoiled, he was such a meek young man that he himself did not even choose the path of a writer. It was money that originally led me to Borges—the leisure bought by college tuition. Often, it seems that writers need a certain degree of bullheadishness to pursue writing, but although Borges may have been spoiled, he was such a meek young man that he himself did not even choose the path of a writer. As is the case with other writers who acknowledged or regretted their past opinions, Borges eventually came to the conclusion that, despite its shortcomings and derailments, democracy had proven to be a better political regime when compared to its alternatives. He starts with "The universe which others call the Library is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. My other activities can be found at www.

Silvina depended on Jovina for the smallest things and demanded that her food be personally served by Jovina or she would not eat it. When Bioy was in hospital he demanded his meals be cooked and carried to the hospital by Jovina. He was, however, embarrassed at leaving the food the hospital provided, and suggested to Jovina that she could solve the problem by eating this food herself on her visits with the meals she had cooked for him at home.

The Lesson Of The Master A Memoir And Essays On Borges And His Work

Jovina had to keep at bay the many women who wished to sleep with Bioy, including at times Elena, the wife of Octavio Paz, who had a long affair with him. Elena, Jovina writes, decided one day, because she was going to Paris with her daughter, to send her eight cats from Mexico to Argentina by plane to be minded by the Bioys. Much drama ensued. Borges, she notes, was an obedient son.

Then he would undress for bed and find Fanny and put out his hand and receive two sweets. He did this, according to Fanny, all his life. Borges was much tortured, according to Fanny, by the possibility of winning the Nobel Prize. On the day of the announcement journalists would queue outside his door. This would happen year after year. The news each time that he had not won would make him very sad.

Borges the bachelor was dressed by Fanny every morning. I put on his clothes, his socks, his shoes, his trousers, everything. Absolutely everything. One day, as a result, he appeared with two odd shoes. The wife also forbade his old nightgown that went down to his ankles and made him wear pyjamas. It was the mother and the sister who arranged the wedding because he never said anything, never knew anything … They bought the furniture, they bought the apartment. On the wedding night his mother suggested that he and Elsa go to a hotel, but Borges wanted to sleep in his own bed and his mother had to accompany Elsa to the bus stop and send her home.

In the morning when Fanny woke Borges she asked him how he had slept on his wedding night. She gave off an aura of reticence, mystery and self-possession. Fanny remembered her coming to the Borges apartment with other students:. In , after the break-up of his marriage, Borges travelled to Iceland, where he found Kodama waiting for him.

Jorge Luis Borges

It was here, it seems, that they became lovers. Back home, however, Borges returned to live with his mother, now 95, and Fanny. Leonor did not die until , when she was She was buried with the rest of her ancestors in the family vault in the Recoleta cemetery where Borges himself would be expected to lie when his time came.

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The Lesson of the Master: On Borges and His Work [Norman Thomas Di Giovanni] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. 'The Lesson of the. 'The Lesson of the Master' - a memoir and essays - is an indispensable work for Borges readers of all kinds. Di Giovanni is the only translator to have had.

A great deal that is cruel and unusual has been written about Kodama, but Williamson in his biography is not keen to add to these comments. On 28 August , Borges changed his will.

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Previously, he had left his estate to his sister and his two nephews; now, he left it to Kodama. He also left Fanny half of whatever money he had in his bank accounts, but later, in , deleted this clause, leaving her very little. In the years between the death of his mother and his own death, Borges and Maria seemed to be on a permanent book tour and appeared to have derived nothing but pleasure from it.

By the end of , however, it was clear to Borges that he was dying. He wished to go back to Europe, but kept this a secret from many friends and from his sister. In the middle of December, he and Kodama arrived in Geneva. Kodama, in an interview in , told Williamson:. He told me that we would be going to Italy and then we would stop over in Switzerland. Works of genius come from strange sources.

It is unimaginable that Borges or Bioy or Silvina Ocampo could have created works of social realism in which domestic life would appear as a feature. All three created work which was playful, self-referential, which invented its own world partly because the world outside was not of much interest to them. But it is difficult for any writer in an unstable, emerging or peripheral country, no matter how enigmatic or recondite the work, to remain outside politics.

Jorge Luis Borges: This Craft of Verse Lectures

Borges wrote a manifesto in favour of Irigoyen, and signed a letter to the newspaper supporting him. His own views on what Argentina might become were outlined in and reiterated in a radio broadcast in This is a confederacy without precedent: a generous adventure by men of different bloodlines whose aim is not to preserve their lineages but to forget those lineages in the end; these are bloodlines that seek the night. The criollo is one of the confederates. The criollo, who was responsible for creating the nation as such, has now chosen to be one among many.

As the s went on and writers took sides, Borges moved sideways. There is no evidence that he even attended the PEN International Congress in Buenos Aires in September , in which political division was the main feature. He is not burdened with an over-reverence for his subject but is on the contrary playful, robust and witty. These translations of the stories that Bor 'The Lesson of the Master' - a memoir and essays - is an indispensable work for Borges readers of all kinds.


These translations of the stories that Borges generated himself, in collaboration with Norman Thomas di Giovanni, have been sidelined in the past as they were not included in the volumes of Borges' work previously published in English. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.

Published December 30th by Bloomsbury Academic first published April 28th More Details Original Title. Other Editions 5.

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