Plot summary[ edit ] This article or section contains close paraphrasing of one or more non-free copyrighted sources. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Ideas in this article should be expressed in an original manner. August Learn how and when to remove this template message The story takes the form of a signed statement by a Chinese professor of English named Doctor Yu Tsun who is living in the United Kingdom during World War I. As the story begins, Doctor Tsun has realized that an MI5 agent called Captain Richard Madden is pursuing him, has entered the apartment of his handler Viktor Runeberg, and has either captured or killed him. Doctor Tsun is certain that his own arrest is next.
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Life and career[ edit ] Early life and education[ edit ] Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was born into an educated middle-class family on 24 August Her family had been much involved in the European settling of South America and the Argentine War of Independence , and she spoke often of their heroic actions. De Acevedo Laprida died of pulmonary congestion in the house where his grandson Jorge Luis Borges was born.
Borges Haslam grew up speaking English at home. The family frequently traveled to Europe. Borges said his father "tried to become a writer and failed in the attempt", despite the opus El caudillo. Jorge Luis Borges wrote, "as most of my people had been soldiers and I knew I would never be, I felt ashamed, quite early, to be a bookish kind of person and not a man of action. In , the family moved to Geneva , Switzerland, and spent the next decade in Europe. In , when he was eighteen, he met writer Maurice Abramowicz and began a literary friendship that would last for the remainder of his life.
In Spain, Borges fell in with and became a member of the avant-garde , anti- Modernismo Ultraist literary movement, inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti , close to the Imagists. His first poem, "Hymn to the Sea," written in the style of Walt Whitman , was published in the magazine Grecia. Early writing career[ edit ] In , Borges returned with his family to Buenos Aires.
He had little formal education, no qualifications and few friends. He wrote to a friend that Buenos Aires was now "overrun by arrivistes, by correct youths lacking any mental equipment, and decorative young ladies".
Borges co-founded the journals Prisma, a broadsheet distributed largely by pasting copies to walls in Buenos Aires, and Proa. Later in life, Borges regretted some of these early publications, attempting to purchase all known copies to ensure their destruction. In this vein, Borges biographer Edwin Williamson underlines the danger of inferring an autobiographically inspired basis for the content or tone of certain of his works: books, philosophy, and imagination were as much a source of real inspiration to him as his own lived experience, if not more so.
They wrote a number of works together, some under the nom de plume H. Bustos Domecq , including a parody detective series and fantasy stories. The second consists of literary forgeries, which Borges initially passed off as translations of passages from famous but seldom-read works. It was in a working-class area  and there were so few books that cataloging more than one hundred books per day, he was told, would leave little to do for the other staff and would make them look bad.
The task took him about an hour each day and the rest of his time he spent in the basement of the library, writing and translating. On Christmas Eve that year, Borges suffered a severe head injury; during treatment, he nearly died of sepsis. While recovering from the accident, Borges began exploring a new style of writing for which he would become famous. One of his most famous works, "Menard" examines the nature of authorship, as well as the relationship between an author and his historical context.
Yu Tsun, who spies for Germany during World War I, in an attempt to prove to the authorities that an Asian person is able to obtain the information that they seek. A combination of book and maze, it can be read in many ways. Through it, Borges arguably invented the hypertext novel and went on to describe a theory of the universe based upon the structure of such a novel. With his vision beginning to fade in his early thirties and unable to support himself as a writer, Borges began a new career as a public lecturer.
In , he became director of the Argentine National Library. By the late s he had become completely blind. No one should read self-pity or reproach Into this statement of the majesty Of God; who with such splendid irony, Granted me books and night at one touch.
In the University of Cuyo awarded Borges the first of many honorary doctorates and the following year he received the National Prize for Literature. While Beckett had garnered a distinguished reputation in Europe and America, Borges had been largely unknown and untranslated in the English-speaking world and the prize stirred great interest in his work. This led to his first lecture tour in the United States.
In that year, Borges began lecture tours of Europe. Numerous honors were to accumulate over the years such as a Special Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America "for distinguished contribution to the mystery genre" ,  the Balzan Prize for Philology, Linguistics and literary Criticism and the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca , the Cervantes Prize all , as well as the French Legion of Honour and the Diamond Konex Award for Literature Arts as the most important writer in the last decade in his country.
He lectured prolifically. Many of these lectures were anthologized in volumes such as Siete noches Seven Nights and Nueve ensayos dantescos Nine Dantesque Essays. Friends believed that his mother, who was 90 and anticipating her own death, wanted to find someone to care for her blind son. The marriage lasted less than three years. After a legal separation, Borges moved back in with his mother, with whom he lived until her death at age In April , a few months before his death, he married her via an attorney in Paraguay , in what was then a common practice among Argentines wishing to circumvent the Argentine laws of the time regarding divorce.
On his religious views, Borges declared himself an agnostic, clarifying: "Being an agnostic means all things are possible, even God, even the Holy Trinity. This world is so strange that anything may happen, or may not happen. During his final days in Geneva, Borges began brooding about the possibility of an afterlife. Although calm and collected about his own death, Borges began probing Kodama as to whether she inclined more towards the Shinto beliefs of her father or the Catholicism of her mother.
Kodama "had always regarded Borges as an Agnostic, as she was herself", but given the insistence of his questioning, she offered to call someone more "qualified". He then preached that "Borges was a man who had unceasingly searched for the right word, the term that could sum up the whole, the final meaning of things. Pastor de Montmollin concluded, "It is not man who discovers the word, it is the Word that comes to him.
His grave, marked by a rough-hewn headstone, is adorned with carvings derived from Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse art and literature. Her assertive administration of his estate resulted in a bitter dispute with the French publisher Gallimard regarding the republication of the complete works of Borges in French, with Pierre Assouline in Le Nouvel Observateur August calling her "an obstacle to the dissemination of the works of Borges".
Kodama took legal action against Assouline, considering the remark unjustified and defamatory, asking for a symbolic compensation of one euro. Kodama commissioned new translations by Andrew Hurley , which have become the standard translations in English. Besides, I think of my own opinions as being superficial. Generally speaking, I think of keeping them in watertight compartments.
Everybody knows my opinions, but as for my dreams and my stories, they should be allowed their full freedom, I think.
On October 30 , Argentine democracy refuted me splendidly. Splendidly and resoundingly. He further recalled that his opposition to Marxism and communism was absorbed in his childhood. He was enraged that the Communist Party of Argentina opposed these measures and sharply criticized them in lectures and in print. Everything is presented to them ready-made. There are even agencies of the State that supply them with opinions, passwords, slogans, and even idols to exalt or cast down according to the prevailing wind or in keeping with the directives of the thinking heads of the single party.
In an interview with Burgin, Borges referred to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda as "a very fine poet" but a "very mean man" for unconditionally supporting the Soviet Union and demonizing the United States. His outrage was fueled by his deep love for German literature. It is uninhabitable; men can only die for it, lie for it, wound and kill for it. No one, in the intimate depths of his being, can wish it to triumph. I shall risk this conjecture: Hitler wants to be defeated.
Hitler is blindly collaborating with the inevitable armies that will annihilate him, as the metal vultures and the dragon which must have known that they were monsters collaborated, mysteriously, with Hercules.
In a conference at Columbia University , Borges was asked about the story by a student from the creative writing program. He recalled, "When the Germans were defeated I felt great joy and relief, but at the same time I thought of the German defeat as being somehow tragic, because here we have perhaps the most educated people in Europe, who have a fine literature, a fine tradition of philosophy and poetry.
Yet these people were bamboozled by a madman named Adolf Hitler , and I think there is tragedy there. He recalled, "And then I realized that those people that were on the side of Germany, that they never thought of German victories or the German glory.
What they really liked was the idea of the Blitzkrieg , of London being on fire, of the country being destroyed. As to the German fighters, they took no stock in them. And then I created the ideal Nazi. I mean someone who thought of violence as being praiseworthy for its own sake. He would still be glad of the fact, even if the Americans and British won the war. It was meant to stand for the fact that there was something tragic in the fate of a real Nazi.
Except that I wonder if a real Nazi ever existed. At least, when I went to Germany, I never met one. They were all feeling sorry for themselves and wanted me to feel sorry for them as well. Almost immediately, the spoils system was the rule of the day, as ideological critics of the ruling Partido Justicialista were fired from government jobs. Upon demanding to know the reason, Borges was told, "Well, you were on the side of the Allies, what do you expect?
At the dinner, a speech was read which Borges had written for the occasion. It said: Dictatorships breed oppression, dictatorships breed servility, dictatorships breed cruelty; more loathsome still is the fact that they breed idiocy. Bellboys babbling orders, portraits of caudillos , prearranged cheers or insults, walls covered with names, unanimous ceremonies, mere discipline usurping the place of clear thinking Fighting these sad monotonies is one of the duties of a writer.
Borges, then suffering from depression caused by a failed romance, reluctantly accepted. Borges later recalled, however, "Many distinguished men of letters did not dare set foot inside its doors.
Borges indignantly refused, calling it a ridiculous demand. The policemen replied that he would soon face the consequences. In his letter of to Attilio Rossi , he claimed that his infamous promotion had been a clever way the Peronists had found of damaging him and diminishing his reputation.
Borges was overjoyed and joined demonstrators marching through the streets of Buenos Aires. According to Williamson, Borges shouted, "Viva la Patria", until his voice grew hoarse. The first he described as "the criminal one", composed of the police state tactics used against both real and imagined anti-Peronists.
The second history was, according to Borges, "the theatrical one" composed of "tales and fables made for consumption by dolts. Coleridge spoke of the "willing suspension of disbelief ," that is, poetic faith; Samuel Johnson said, in defense of Shakespeare, that the spectators at a tragedy do not believe they are in Alexandria in the first act and Rome in the second but submit to the pleasure of a fiction.
Similarly, the lies of a dictatorship are neither believed nor disbelieved; they pertain to an intermediate plane, and their purpose is to conceal or justify sordid or atrocious realities.
The Garden of Forking Paths
Life and career[ edit ] Early life and education[ edit ] Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was born into an educated middle-class family on 24 August Her family had been much involved in the European settling of South America and the Argentine War of Independence , and she spoke often of their heroic actions. De Acevedo Laprida died of pulmonary congestion in the house where his grandson Jorge Luis Borges was born. Borges Haslam grew up speaking English at home.
El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan, J. L. Borges: Doblar siempre a la izquierda
Jorge Luis Borges
El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan