I must admit that I am a Borges fan. Cynical that I am, I won't say that for other writers. What didn't Borges write and what didn't he read! To be honest, his scope is baffling, the range of his interests immense, his erudition vast, his writing brilliant with that sadness, that sense of ever present loss that lifts greatness to sublime.
It has been 3 years now since I picked up his Selected Non-Fictions followed by his Selected Poems. To literature Borges brings that fundamental knowledge of the transience of things. He never raves and rants, there is a philosophical undercurrent in all his writings. People have come and gone, sometimes leaving something worthwhile, like literature, like an epitaph. Borges is the metaphysician for the senses, patient healer with words. His prose is never angry, often serene, mostly melancholic, generally concerned with metaphysical matters. From essays on the history of angels to the postulation on reality, from a defense of the Kabbalah to Muslim sufism, from detective fiction to Ulysses, Borges writes all. His film criticisms elevate this genre to an art, and his immense erudition is visible from his book criticisms.
Borges was a wide reader. In this book are includes his reviews on Meyrink, Faulkner, Huxley, Tagore, Lady Murasaki to his Library of Babel, which introduced me to his favourite authors including Cortazar, Lainez and Akutagawa amongst others. Borges stuns you with a lyrical essay on the history of the Tango and next comes Kafka, Pascal, Attar the Persian mystic genius. Borges' poetry is the refinement of the senses. The tone is one of a tranced rhythm, of speculative whispering, almost magic, nearly mystical.
Borges was born in Buenos Aires and is generally regarded as a 20th century literary genius. His fame grew outside Latin America and by the time of his death, he was a literary phenomenon. In 1955, he became blind and then mostly wrote poetry. He won numerous awards including the Alfonso Reyes prize. The translations by Esther Allen, Weinberger and other contributors are extremely brilliant.
Borges is a true universal writer for he read everything, from Western to Eastern Literature including religious and mystical texts. His creed was universal as opposed to pure nationalistic credo. This is easily reflected in his writings. Borges doesn't frighten with his literary zeal but works his magic in a hypnotic way. If only everone would read Borges!
I end this post with a few lines from his poem called Parting.
Three hundred nights like three hundred walls
must rise between my love and me
and the sea will be a black art between us.
Nothing will be left but memories.
Nights hoping for the sights of you,
that I am seeing and losing........
Final as marble
your absence will sadden other afternoons.