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200 × 130 × 13 mm
176 pages
27 illustrations
01 Aug 2006
Critical Lives
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Jorge Luis Borges Jason Wilson

‘Through the years, a man peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people. Shortly before his death, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face.’ These words, inseparably marrying life and work, encapsulate how Jorge Luis Borges interwove the two throughout his legendary literary career. But the Borges of popular imagination is the celebrated, blind librarian and man of letters; few biographers have explored his tumultuous early life in the streets and cafes of Buenos Aires, a young man searching for his path in the world.

In Jorge Luis Borges, Jason Wilson uncovers the young poet who wrote, loved, and lost with adventurous passion, and considers the later work, life and travels of the writer who claimed to have never created a character: ‘It’s always me, subtly disguised.’ Born in Buenos Aires in 1899, Jorge Luis Borges was a voracious reader from childhood, perhaps in part because he knew he lived under a sentence of adult-onset blindness inherited from his father.

Wilson chronicles Borges’s life as he raced against time and his fated blindness, charting the literary friendships, love affairs and polemical writings that formed the foundation of his youth. Illuminating the connections running between the biography and fictions of Borges, Wilson traces the outline of this self-effacing literary figure. Though in his later writings Borges would subjugate emotion to the wild play of ideas, Jorge Luis Borges reminds us that he was always a poet whose life was recreated subtly in his work - but never in confessional ways - and restores his Argentine roots. It will be an invaluable resource for all those who treasure this modern master.

‘a balanced and fresh approach . . . Wilsons book opens with an inspired, panoramic essay on Borgess relationship with reading, biography and his own personality . . . Wilson shows a salutary impatience with critical clichés.’ — Times Literary Supplement

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Jason Wilson is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, University College London. His books include Octavio Paz: A Study of his Poetics (1979), Octavio Paz (1989), An A-Z of Modern Latin American Literature in English Translation (1989), Jorge Luis Borges(Reaktion, 2006), The Andes: A Cultural History(2009) and Buenos Aires: A Cultural History (1999). He lives in London and Buenos Aires.

1.  Buenos Aires to Palermo
2.  Geneva and Spain
3.  Buenos Aires, the Avant-garde and Literary Friendships
4.  The 1930s, Crisis and Accident
5.  The 1940s, War, Peronism and Writing
6.  From Blindness to Geneva
Photo Acknowledgements