Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch


I've started reading the English-language collection of Jorge Luis Borges' non-fiction work that came out a number of years ago. I'd given it a cursory perusal when I bought it, as a companion to the fiction and poetry collections, but hadn't taken the time to give it much thought. Because it's one of the books that Thing Two marked during his excessively territorial phase, I decided that now would be a good time to pull it off the shelf. Noticing the slightly pockmarked cover and cleaning solution-curled edges of some pages may seem like a strange way of paying tribute to the cat's memory, but I've spent enough time musing on the ways in which mass-produced goods can develop the aura of one-of-a-kindness for this gesture to make sense for me psychologically.

Because I've been reading and loving Borges since high school, I've had the occasion to reflect in some detail on the havoc his work plays with traditional notions of genre. It's no accident that the English-language collection devoted to his poetry has a good deal of what looks like prose inside. This genre-bending also holds true for this non-fiction collection, which periodically turns up a piece that reads exactly like one of his ficciones that purports to present real history. But there are plenty of reviews of a more straightforward nature that do not feel like that sort of deception. I have been repeatedly delighted to find that Borges offers learned but unstuffy opinions that avoid what we now call snark while still managing to see through the Emperor's new clothes. His take on Finnegan's Wake, for example, boldly targets its easy punning as an indication of the author's shortcomings. I'll try to post a few quotes from other pieces in the collection later this week.
Tags: everyday, literature, writing

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