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Now translated into English for the first time, these lectures are accompanied by extensive and informative notes by the Borges scholars Martin Arias and Martin Hadis. Writing for Harper's magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges : A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature.

Starting with the Vikings' kennings and Beowulf and ending with Stevenson and Oscar Wilde, the book traverses a landscape of 'precursors,' cross-cultural borrowings, and genres of expression, all connected by Borges into a vast interpretive web. This is the most surprising and useful of Borges's works to have appeared posthumously.

About The Author. Jorge Luis Borges , Argentine poet, critic, and short-story writer, revolutionized modern literature. He was completely blind when appointed the head of Argentina's National Library. Select Parent Grandparent Teacher Kid at heart. Age of the child I gave this to:. Hours of Play:. Tell Us Where You Are:. He's also blind and has been for more than a decade. What would your reaction be? The 25 lectures in Professor Borges began life as utilitarian transcriptions — intended for study notes and nothing more.

So it's impossible to tell how his students reacted in the moment. Borges rarely acknowledges them directly, and, as editors Martin Arias and Martin Hadis point out in their introduction, his own place in the pantheon had not yet been reserved: "[T]he constant political changes in Argentina resulted in more publicity for his statements about the news than his literary work. Instead, he riffs and extemporizes in a way that is loosely chronological and heavily idiosyncratic. The first seven lectures, for instance, are dedicated exclusively to Old English poetry.

Then, with almost no segue, we jump years into the future to rub shoulders with Samuel Johnson and the Romantic poets. Borges is happy to follow his nose, canon be damned. Who else would give 19th-century poet and textile designer William Morris three full lectures more space than Chaucer, Milton and Shakespeare zero, zero and zero, respectively combined?

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Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW's Bookworm , once said that good teachers are in fact performers, "provid[ing] an example of what it's like to fall in love in a way that changes your whole life and doesn't involve a civil ceremony. Even when he's heckling Beowulf as if it were a Hollywood blockbuster he calls it "poorly wrought" and several key details "improbable" , it's clear that he has nothing but respect and admiration for the fact that it was written down in the first place. That contagious love of literature, which also seeped into every story he ever wrote, is a big reason why Borges's influence has only grown since his death in Roberto Bolano named his collection The Insufferable Gaucho after a particularly cryptic Borges tale; the title story was later published in The New Yorker.

Another of Borges's Latin American descendants, the madcap Cesar Aira, has published many of his plus novels with a small Argentine publisher called Beatriz Viterbo, named after a character in The Aleph. English literature, too, continues to pay Borges debts both spoken and unspoken. He has made cameos in recent Canadian novels by Rebecca Campbell and Miguel Syjuco — and if you find the mention of a fictional prose poem called Borges Disappointed by the Internet as delightful as I do he probably would be! Borges's thought experiments with logic and technology, not to mention the way he eagerly mixed a high literary style with pulp cowboy and detective plots, prefigured entire genres of writing.

For Borges, literature was a feedback loop, requiring nothing but itself for sustenance. One of the greatest tricks in his fiction is creating sprawling lists of other books and writers sometimes real, sometimes not , and there are moments in Professor Borges where the real man seems just as comically omnivorous in his reading habits.

In arguing that William Blake's true literary ancestors are found much earlier than the Romantic movement, for instance, Borges compares his poems "to the Cathar heretics in the south of France, the Gnostics in Asia Minor and Alexandria of the first century after Christ, and of course to the great and visionary Swedish thinker, Emanuel Swedenborg. The professor will eventually provide evidence for each of those claims. But in that moment, he sounds like nobody so much as the narrator of a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Michael Hingston is the books columnist for the Edmonton Journal.

Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature

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Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature by Jorge Luis Borges

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