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Jorge Luis Borges (1899 – 1986)


Argentine writer who is considered one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century.
Jorge Luis Borges
He cometido el peor pecado que uno puede cometer. No he sido feliz.
Borges quotes
Only one thing is more admirable than the admirable reply of the Saxon king: that an Icelander, a man of the lineage of the vanquished, has perpetuated the reply. It is as if a Carthaginian had bequeathed to us the memory of the exploit of Regulus. Saxo Grammaticus wrote with justification in his Gesta Danorum: "The men of Thule [Iceland] are very fond of learning and of recording the history of all peoples and they are equally pleased to reveal the excellences of others or of themselves."
Not the day when the Saxon said the words, but the day when an enemy perpetuated them, was the historic date. A date that is a prophecy of something still in the future: the day when races and nations will be cast into oblivion, and the solidarity of all mankind will be established.
Borges
That one individual should awaken in another memories that belong to still a third is an obvious paradox.




Borges Jorge Luis quotes
La duda es uno de los nombres de la inteligencia.
Borges Jorge Luis
"I suppose he had the good luck to be executed, no? I had an hour's chat with him in Buenos Aires. He struck me as a kind of play actor, no? Living up to a certain role. I mean, being a professional Andalusian... But in the case of Lorca, it was very strange because I lived in Andalusia and the Andalusians aren't a bit like that. His were stage Andalusians. Maybe he thought that in Buenos Aires he had to live up to that character, but in Andalusia, people are not like that. In fact, if you are in Andalusia, if you are talking to a man of letters and you speak to him about bullfights, he'll say, 'Oh well, that sort of this pleases people, I suppose, but really the torero works in no danger whatsoever. Because they are bored by these things, because every writer is bored by the local color in his own country. Well, when I met Lorca, he was being a professional Andalusian... Besides, Lorca wanted to astonish us. He said to me that he was very troubled about a very important figure in the contemporary world. A character in whom he could see all the tragedy of American life. And then he went on in this way until I asked him who was this character and it turned out this character was Mickey Mouse. I suppose he was trying to be clever. And I thought, 'That's the kind of thing you say when you are very, very young and you want to astonish somebody.' But after all, he was a grown man, he had no need, he could have talked in a different way. But when he started in about Mickey Mouse being a symbol of America, there was a friend of mine there and he looked at me and I looked at him and we both walked away because we were too old for that kind of game, no? Even at that time."
Jorge Luis Borges quotes
Myth is at the beginning of literature, and also at its end.
Jorge Luis Borges
I turn to the most promising example: the bird. The habit of flocking; smallness; similarity of traits; their ancient connection with the two twilights, the beginnings of days, and the endings; the fact of being more often heard than seen — all of this moves us to acknowledge the primacy of the species and the almost perfect nullity of individuals. Keats, entirely a stranger to error, could believe that the nightingale enchanting him was the same one Ruth heard amid the alien corn of Bethlehem in Judah; Stevenson posits a single bird that consumes the centuries: "the nightingale that devours time." Schopenhauer — impassioned, lucid Schopenhauer — provides a reason: the pure corporeal immediacy in which animals live, oblivious to death and memory. He then adds, not without a smile: Whoever hears me assert that the grey cat playing just now in the yard is the same one that did jumps and tricks there five hundred years ago will think whatever he likes of me, but it is a stranger form of madness to imagine that the present-day cat is fundamentally an entirely different one.
Borges Jorge Luis quotes
El hecho ocurrió en el mes de febrero de 1969, al norte de Boston, en Cambridge. No lo escribí inmediatamente porque mi primer propósito fue olvidarlo, para no perder la razón.
Borges
Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belabored by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon.
Borges Jorge Luis
On September 20, 1792, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (who had accompanied the Duke of Weimar on a military expedition to Paris) saw the finest army of Europe inexplicably repulsed at Valmy by some French militiamen, and said to his disconcerted friends: "In this place and on this day, a new epoch in the history of the world is beginning, and we shall be able to say that we have been present at its origin." Since that time historic days have been numerous, and one of the tasks of governments (especially in Italy, Germany, and Russia) has been to fabricate them or to simulate them with an abundance of preconditioning propaganda followed by relentless publicity.
Jorge Luis Borges
I would define the baroque as that style that deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its own possibilities, and that borders on self-caricature. [...] The baroque is the final stage in all art, when art flaunts and squanders its resources.




Jorge Luis Borges quotes
Ts'ui Pe must have said once: I am withdrawing to write a book. And another time: I am withdrawing to construct a labyrinth. Every one imagined two works; to no one did it occur that the book and the maze were one and the same thing.
Jorge Luis Borges
The vast ineptitude of his pretense would be a convincing proof that this was no fraud.
Borges quotes
The metaphysicians of Tlön do not seek for the truth or even for verisimilitude, but rather for the astounding. They judge that metaphysics is a branch of fantastic literature. They know that a system is nothing more than the subordination of all aspects of the universe to any one such aspect. Even the phrase "all aspects" is rejectable, for it supposes the impossible addition of the present and of all past moments.
Borges Jorge Luis
He transforms all concepts into incommunicable, solidified objects. To refute him is to become contaminated with unreality.
Borges Jorge Luis quotes
His many years had reduced and polished him the way water smooths and polishes a stone or generations of men polish a proverb.
Jorge Luis Borges
To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely.
Jorge Luis Borges quotes
There is nothing very remarkable about being immortal; with the exception of mankind, all creatures are immortal, for they know nothing of death. What is divine, terrible, and incomprehensible is to know oneself immortal.
Jorge Luis Borges
Like all those possessing a library, Aurelian was aware that he was guilty of not knowing his in its entirety.
Borges Jorge Luis
Of course, like all young men, I tried to be as unhappy as I could — a kind of Hamlet and Raskolnikov rolled into one.


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