Sunday, August 23, 2015

8/24/1899 Jorge Luis Borges enters the labyrinth

August 24, 1899.  Jorge Luis Borges was born on this day in Argentina.  He believed that an author of fiction should created his own world so many of his early "stories" consisted of reviews of books that were never published, biographies of people who never lived, and detailed descriptions of buildings that could never stand.

But around his fortieth birthday (midlife crisis?) in the course of a few months he created three masterpieces of mystery fiction: "Death and the Compass," "The Garden of Forking Paths," and "The Shape of the Sword."  In these he explored two of his favorite themes, the double and the labyrinth, while also discussing Chinese spies in England, murderous dwarfs in a mysterious unnamed city, and betrayal during the Irish Civil War.

He also co-wrote with his friend Adolfo Bioy-Casares Six Problems for Isidro Parodi about a man, falsely imprisoned, who passes the time solving mysteries for his visitors.  Parodi is a common surname in Argentina, but it also means just what it sounds like.

Borges went blind as he aged, and also was named the director of the national library of Argentina.  It is not coincidence that the blind librarian in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose was named Jorge of Burgos. 

1 comment:

  1. Well! I let this birthday slip past me! Thanks for the rememberance!