Saturday, July 5, 2008

50 Greatest Books - Ficcones

Ficciones, by Jorge Luis Borges

When it comes to imaginative influence, size really doesn't matter. Ficciones, by Jorge Luis Borges, a slim collection of 17 short stories that first appeared in 1944, has, over time, made waves in the pond of literature that only a door-stopper of a prose epic such as Joyce's Ulysses can match. Borges's collection whispered from the library that literature had a new subject: literature itself. A glance at what happened to that collection lets us track how that whisper became a roar, and how a writer could surf a wave that he himself had started.

The anglophone literary world at that time made use of a set of pigeonholes, and the work of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) fit nicely into several. First, it came out of nowhere, because that is where Argentina was for even the most cosmopolitan English-bound sensibility. Spain had shrunk from world-historical empire into wrecked state squeezed into the grip of a fascist dictatorship. Argentina was a place near the South Pole ruled by a Hitler-leaning populist despot whose regime was boosted by his pop-tart wife, the stuff of romance and even - as time proved - musical theatre. The prospect of colonial outposts generating artistic energies powerful enough to thrust that mother tongue into the centre of world literature seemed remote, something out of science fiction. [more]

I have heard of this author, but I have not read any of his books

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