Friday, February 24, 2006

The World Prepares to Celebrate 20 Years of Borges' Death

The world is preparing to celebrate the life and work of one of Argentina's greatest writers: Jorge Luis Borges. Argentina's daily newspaper La Nación for February 13, 2006 reports that the world is preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Borges' death. Please note that the article is in Spanish; the Spanish title is "El mundo prepara homenajes a Borges." The article reports that cities like Geneva, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, New York, Buenos Aires as well as Puerto Rico will be hosting and/or organizing various commemorative activities starting next month. Among the activities will be conferences and exhibits. For instance, Argentinian sculptor Federico Brook, who currently resides in Italy, will be unveiling a sculpture in front of the Argentinian embassy in Lisbon; the project is sponsored by the governments of Argentina and Portugal. The Fundación Internacional Jorge Luis Borges (the International Jorge Luis Borges Foundation) in Argentina will coordinate various activities including a haiku contest for children. In the article, the president of the Foundation, Ms. Maria Kodama, discusses Borges' work and legacy. She points out that to this day many graduate students choose to complete theses and dissertations on Borges.

I know I will be pulling my copies of Ficciones and El Aleph off my shelves sometime this year to celebrate. In Puerto Rico, the works of Borges are part of the high school Spanish curriculum. The man wrote poetry, prose, and criticism, and his works are some of my favorites. In the United States, the University of Virginia has a Borges collection.

Some of his sayings (in Spanish, with my translation):

  • "Dicen que soy un gran escritor. Agradezco esa curiosa opinión, pero no la comparto. El día de mañana, algunos lúcidos la refutarán fácilmente y me tildarán de impostor o chapucero o de ambas cosas a la vez." ("They say that I am a great writer. I am grateful for that strange opinion. Some day, someone will easily refute it, and I will be branded as an impostor or a slob, or both.")
  • "La belleza es ese misterio hermoso que no descifran ni la psicología ni la retórica." ("Beauty is that gorgeous mystery that cannot be deciphered by either psychology or rhetoric.")
And of course, the quote I am sure many out there think about:
  • "Siempre imaginé el Paraíso como una especie de biblioteca." ("I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library").
I can only dream that it were true. So, if you have not read any of Borges' work, go to your local library and find some of his works. They have been widely translated into English, and in many other languages, for our friends who don't read in Spanish.

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