web site hit counter Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature

Availability: Ready to download

In English at last, Borges’s erudite and entertaining lectures on English literature from Beowulf to Oscar Wilde Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges: “A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature. Starting with the Vikings’ kennings and Beowulf and endi In English at last, Borges’s erudite and entertaining lectures on English literature from Beowulf to Oscar Wilde Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges: “A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 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.” Borges takes us on a startling, idiosyncratic, fresh, and highly opinionated tour of English literature, weaving together countless cultural traditions of the last three thousand years. Borges’s lectures — delivered extempore by a man of extraordinary erudition — bring the canon to remarkably vivid life. Now translated into English for the first time, these lectures are accompanied by extensive and informative notes by the Borges scholars Martín Arias and Martín Hadis.


Compare

In English at last, Borges’s erudite and entertaining lectures on English literature from Beowulf to Oscar Wilde Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges: “A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature. Starting with the Vikings’ kennings and Beowulf and endi In English at last, Borges’s erudite and entertaining lectures on English literature from Beowulf to Oscar Wilde Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges: “A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 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.” Borges takes us on a startling, idiosyncratic, fresh, and highly opinionated tour of English literature, weaving together countless cultural traditions of the last three thousand years. Borges’s lectures — delivered extempore by a man of extraordinary erudition — bring the canon to remarkably vivid life. Now translated into English for the first time, these lectures are accompanied by extensive and informative notes by the Borges scholars Martín Arias and Martín Hadis.

30 review for Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I judge this work not as a scholarly treatise on English literature. Consider how it was put together: One or more students at the University of Buenos Aires taped the entire series of 25 lectures in 1966 and then transcribed the result for use as notes. The tapes themselves are now missing and were probably re-used, according to the editors, for other classes. This was not intended to be a detailed survey of English literature: Jorge Luis Borges devotes seven lectures to Anglo-Saxon literature, I judge this work not as a scholarly treatise on English literature. Consider how it was put together: One or more students at the University of Buenos Aires taped the entire series of 25 lectures in 1966 and then transcribed the result for use as notes. The tapes themselves are now missing and were probably re-used, according to the editors, for other classes. This was not intended to be a detailed survey of English literature: Jorge Luis Borges devotes seven lectures to Anglo-Saxon literature, and then skips forward to the 18th century and Dr. Samuel Johnson (leaving out Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, Pope, and a few hundred other major figures), followed in quick order by the Romantic and Pre-Raphaelite poets, with a quick detour on Charles Dickens. And the 20th century? Nope. Of what value, then, is Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature? If you want a thorough survey of English literature, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you want to look inside a great poet's mind to see what makes him tick, this is a fascinating volume. Professor Borges is a much more useful book than the author's comparable An Introduction to American Literature, in which he shows no real understanding of an author such as William Faulkner:Faulkner's hallucinatory tendencies are not unworthy of Shakespeare, but one fundamental reproach must be made of him. It may be said that Faulkner believes his labyrinthine world requires a no less labyrinthine technique. Except in Sanctuary (1931) his story, always a frightful one, is never told to us directly; we must decipher it and deduce it through tortuous, inward monologues, just as we do in the difficult final chapter of Joyce's Ulysses.But then many of my friends feel the same way about Faulkner, and I suspect that Borges has difficulties with the combination of Southern dialect and the King James Bible. Please excuse the digression. It is a fact that many of my favorite poets and novelists despise other of my favorite poets and novelists. If they didn't, they wouldn't be who they are: They would be me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sunny

    A really interesting book which goes into the backbone of english literature told from the eyes of a south american legend. Borges goes into the history of english literature teaching you things about the classics like Beowulf and the battle of Maldon and Samuel Johnson, Coleridge, Blake, Carlyle and lots of other classic english writers / english texts. Some of the insights into this book were eye opening. The chapters were different classes that Borges gave on English literature at a universit A really interesting book which goes into the backbone of english literature told from the eyes of a south american legend. Borges goes into the history of english literature teaching you things about the classics like Beowulf and the battle of Maldon and Samuel Johnson, Coleridge, Blake, Carlyle and lots of other classic english writers / english texts. Some of the insights into this book were eye opening. The chapters were different classes that Borges gave on English literature at a university of Buenos Aires in 1966 - the year that Eric Cantona was born. Anyway, here are my best bits: In spanish we have alto, alta, altos for the word high. The adjectives change according to the grammatical gender. In english we only have the word “high”. Now what was it that bought this simplification that made contemporary english a much simpler language, grammatically, though much richer in vocabulary than old english? It is the fact that vikings, danes, and norwegians settled in the north and centre of england. They had to understand each other, so in order to do so and as the vocabulary was already so simple, a kind of lingua franca emerged and english became simpler. I think that the Norman invasion of england was very important for the history of England, and naturally that means for the history of the whole world. I think that if the normans had not invaded england, england today would be another Denmark. It would be a very educated country and politically admirable, but a provincial country and a country that has not exerted its influence upon the world. The normans on the other hand made possible the British Empire, as well as the spread of the english race all over the world. The weaker we are, the less our strength, the bolder we shall be. The role of the poet is not to count the stripes on a tulip or linger over the many shades of green of the foliage. The poet should not deal with the individual but rather with the generic, for the poet is writing for posterity. The poet should seek out the eternal passions of man, as well as the subjects such as the brevity of life, the vicissitudes of destiny, the hopes we have of immorality, sins, virtues, etcetera. The scots tend to be perhaps as a result of their theological discussions much more intellectual, more rational. Englishmen are impulsive, they don't need theories for their behaviour. On the contrary, Scots tend to be thinkers and reasoners. But we mustn't forget that words that are difficult for the English reader are easy for us because they are the intellectual words of Latin origin. On the other hand as i have said more than once, the common words in english, the words of a child or a peasant or a fisherman, they are of Germanic Saxon origin. Certain works abound in “hard words” in words that are difficult for the english (that demand some culture on the part of the reader) but they are easy for us because they are latin words, that is, spanish. Writing bad pages is typical of great poets. When shakespeare wanted to write a bad page he sat down and did it without further ado, he enjoyed it. On the other hand a mediocre poet might not have any very bad poems. He might not have them because he is conscious of his mediocrity, because he is constantly keeping watch on himself. Wordsworth on the other hand is conscious of his strength and that is why there is so much ballast, so many dead zones in his work. And he speaks of coleridge's splendid conversation. He says that his very words were the very music of thought. The angels tell him that by devoting himself to pure virtue he has wasted his time on earth to learn. Finally carlyle settles in london and there he publishes the french Revolution, his most famous work. Carlyle lent the manuscript to a friend - John Stuart Mill. Mill’s cook used the manuscript to light a stove in the kitchen! (WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) The Fabian society took that name because during the punic wars there was a Roman general who had the name Fabius Cunctator “Fabius the Delayer” for he believed that the best way to defeat the enemy was not to engage in battle but rather to tire out the organised armies against whom they were fighting, by leading them from one place to another, tiring them out leading them to places with bad pastures for their horses, which is what the irish did to the essex. So this socialist society is founded in london, because the members of that society did not believe in revolution, they believed that socialism should be imposed bit by bit without forcing events. The word saga is related to the word “sagen” in german - to say. The narrator was forbidden to enter into the mind of the heroes. He could not recount what a hero dreamed, he could not say that a person hated or loved. This would be to intrude upon the mind of the character. Only what the characters did or what they made could be told. Reading should be a form of happiness. I would advise all possible readers of my last will and testament to read a lot, and not to get intimidated by writers reputations, to continue to look for personal happiness, personal enjoyment. It is the only way to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Graychin

    Available for the first time in English translation, Professor Borges collects a term's worth of lectures delivered by Jorge Luis Borges in 1966 on the history of English literature. It’s a remarkable book, I think, for two quite different reasons. It's remarkable first of all in offering a survey of its subject that will be almost unrecognizable to most students of English literature. Fully a quarter of the course is spent on the Anglo-Saxon era of Beowulf and Co. Almost no mention at all is mad Available for the first time in English translation, Professor Borges collects a term's worth of lectures delivered by Jorge Luis Borges in 1966 on the history of English literature. It’s a remarkable book, I think, for two quite different reasons. It's remarkable first of all in offering a survey of its subject that will be almost unrecognizable to most students of English literature. Fully a quarter of the course is spent on the Anglo-Saxon era of Beowulf and Co. Almost no mention at all is made of Chaucer and, in fact, seven hundred years of literary history are glibly ignored when Borges leaps directly from the Norman invasion to Samuel Johnson. Milton and Shakespeare are mentioned only in passing. After a couple lectures each for Wordsworth and Coleridge, we’re introduced to a long line of Victorians. Borges really spends a perverse amount of time on Thomas Carlyle, William Morris, Robert Browning, and (of all people) Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He concludes with Robert Louis Stevenson. Modernism he leaves tucked in the womb circa 1895. Second, the book is remarkable because Borges’s style of presentation is no less idiosyncratic than his selection of texts. But there’s nothing to complain about here. It’s a style born of unabashed personal enthusiasm. Literary theory goes out the window (and good riddance) or, rather, it doesn’t so much go out the window as fail to obtain entrance to the room in the first place. Questions about the nature and function and politics of texts don’t seem to interest Borges. Rather, stories interest him. The old, blind Argentine gets up in front of his students every day and he simply tells stories. He tells whole plots of numerous works. He quotes at length from memory. He tells about the authors’ lives, their absurd notions, unpleasant habits, and frequent misfortunes. Again and again he digresses into alleyways that are sometimes more surprising and more scenic than the view from the broad highway. The epilogue of Professor Borges excerpts an interview which neatly sums up Borges’s personal philosophy of reading. "I believe that the phrase 'obligatory reading' is a contradiction in terms," he says. "Reading should not be obligatory. Should we ever speak of 'obligatory pleasure'? What for? Pleasure is not obligatory, pleasure is something we seek… If a book bores you, leave it; don’t read it because it is famous, don’t read it because it is modern, don’t read a book because it is old. If a book is tedious to you, leave it, even if that book is Paradise Lost – which is not tedious to me – or Don Quixote – which also is not tedious to me. But if a book is tedious to you, don’t read it; that book was not written for you. Reading should be a form of happiness…" Never tedious itself, Professor Borges is unrecommendable as an introduction to English literature. It is, however, a wonderful introduction to Borges as a teacher, and it offers a fascinatingly oblique view of its subject for those who already have a more orthodox understanding of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Muntz

    Ran across this in a used bookstore, never knowing it existed, and am glad I snapped it up. Hearing Borges talk about everything he liked was just fantastic. The lectures are mostly summarized, but suddenly, here, they feel like Borges stories--and, in the connections he makes and the perspectives he takes, it's a reminder of just how good it feels to be trapped in his mind. I would probably suggest the selected nonfiction over this, but for the Borges enthusiast, this is an amazing find. Ran across this in a used bookstore, never knowing it existed, and am glad I snapped it up. Hearing Borges talk about everything he liked was just fantastic. The lectures are mostly summarized, but suddenly, here, they feel like Borges stories--and, in the connections he makes and the perspectives he takes, it's a reminder of just how good it feels to be trapped in his mind. I would probably suggest the selected nonfiction over this, but for the Borges enthusiast, this is an amazing find.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Philipp

    A Borges bootleg! Transcripts of recordings of a few lectures on English literature Borges gave in the 1960s in Buenos Aires, before he was internationally famous, which is why the recordings of these lectures don't exist anymore. Interestingly, it's very conversational in tone, there's very little university related talking going on (of course, there is a possibility that the editors cut this) - Borges talks only once about tests, never again about anything but Anglo-Saxon/English literature; he A Borges bootleg! Transcripts of recordings of a few lectures on English literature Borges gave in the 1960s in Buenos Aires, before he was internationally famous, which is why the recordings of these lectures don't exist anymore. Interestingly, it's very conversational in tone, there's very little university related talking going on (of course, there is a possibility that the editors cut this) - Borges talks only once about tests, never again about anything but Anglo-Saxon/English literature; he seems to be more concerned about recommending books students should read instead of drilling tidbits of knowledge into them for tests. That's another amazing thing about these lectures; Borges was already mostly blind, everything he quotes (for some reason in Spanish) is from memory, all years and all facts are from his head, which is why he so often gets students to read longer poems to the class for him. But, if you're looking for Borges as a builder of mysterious worlds, you won't find him here; these are introductory lectures, there's very little interpretation, more often than not Borges is more concerned with how fun the story is and how beautiful the language sounds than he bothers with explaining, as an example, the political background of why a certain writer wrote this poem. Sometimes it's strange in that he gets a student to read a poem in English, then summarizes the story in the middle of the poem (remember, the students are young and probably didn't know much English yet), then lets the student read the rest of the poem, and at that point you would have expected Borges to talk some more about what they just read, focus on single elements and interpret them, but he just has the student read the next poem. Another curious thing is the choice of authors by Borges - there's only a single page on Shakespeare, but an entire lecture on Stevenson. Recommended for: People who are looking for an introduction to English literature, or those who need more books on their to-read shelf Not recommended for: People who want to see a blind man construct a library containing every possible book

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hingston

    "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?" I got to review this for the Globe and Mail a couple weeks back. Read the whole thing here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/b... "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?" I got to review this for the Globe and Mail a couple weeks back. Read the whole thing here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/b...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Al Bità

    During the period 14 October–14 December 1966 inclusive, the Professor of English Literature at the University of Buenos Aires, Jorge Luis Borges, gave a series of 25 lectures on English Literature to a small group of students. Borges was blind by this time, so the lectures were purely oral. The lectures were taped, and quick transcriptions made by the students for their study, and for those students not able to attend. The tapes are no longer extant, but the transcriptions have been recovered, During the period 14 October–14 December 1966 inclusive, the Professor of English Literature at the University of Buenos Aires, Jorge Luis Borges, gave a series of 25 lectures on English Literature to a small group of students. Borges was blind by this time, so the lectures were purely oral. The lectures were taped, and quick transcriptions made by the students for their study, and for those students not able to attend. The tapes are no longer extant, but the transcriptions have been recovered, and they are presented here for our information and edification. The editors are to be commended for their work in bringing these lectures to the English-speaking world: they have tried to minimise any possible editorial interference, and present the work in such a way that the reader can easily imagine being physically present at the lectures. Borges’ idiosyncratic phrases, personal commentaries and often startling cross-references are presented with minimal editorialising, thus giving the words the kind of immediacy one would normally experience in a live lecture. To this end, the work of the translator from the Spanish (Katherine Silver) in maintaining this aura is also to be commended. English literature begins once the western Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th-c CE, and the Anglo-Saxon Old English begins to flourish. Borges is concerned to emphasise the early Germanic influences in this literature, feeling that this aspect of the language, which he considers to be a major thread, tends to be forgotten. Essentially he begins with Beowulf, and then examines several other related themes — and he is off on his take of what he loves about English literature. Often centuries are skipped and then specific authors and works are selected to which Borges is partial. In his own way, he links these works together, and in the process, urges his students to engage with these writings and fall as much in love with them as he is. The ride is fast, exciting, and covers subjects more often covered in the more esoteric areas of the discipline but without becoming too difficult for an ordinary reader. The course finishes with his comments regarding works of Robert Louis Stevenson. I can’t help but feel that this is a rare, special treat, resurrected from the thoughts and feelings of an Argentinian aficionado of English literature with a passionate love of his subject, which would otherwise have been lost forever. In that sense it becomes a unique kind of specialised treasure that all readers of English Literature will relish.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Jones

    Borges was the best kind of professor; one that cared less about imparting specific bits of knowledge than he did about sparking passion. He clearly loved English literature and his excitement is infectious. I love this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Jr.

    If you’ve read much of Borges’s work, you know he’s a master not only of short fiction but also of essays and poetry. (No cat lover should miss his cat poem; translations are easy to find, though none I’ve seen strike me as quite right). This book shows him in yet another light, that of the teacher—more properly, the student and lover—of the English language and its literature. The text comes from a series of recordings that were made by students in a class Borges gave at the University of Bueno If you’ve read much of Borges’s work, you know he’s a master not only of short fiction but also of essays and poetry. (No cat lover should miss his cat poem; translations are easy to find, though none I’ve seen strike me as quite right). This book shows him in yet another light, that of the teacher—more properly, the student and lover—of the English language and its literature. The text comes from a series of recordings that were made by students in a class Borges gave at the University of Buenos Aires in 1966; the recordings have since been lost, only the students’ transcriptions remain, and in the advance reading copy that I read a good deal of cleaning up was yet to be done. Copious notes have been added, which makes the book academically useful, but I rarely consulted them. I simply read the text from start to finish; I could almost imagine being there as Borges spoke, off the cuff and purely from memory. As is often the case with books, what I really prize is the encounter with another mind, and such a mind as he had is a rare thing indeed. Here are a few things I enjoyed, drawn from notes I jotted and Goodreads updates I posted. • Germanic and Anglo-Saxon poetry employed strangely complex metaphors that are called kennings. Examples: “whale-road” instead of “sea”; “breast-horde” or “treasure of the chest” for “heart.” • The refrain as a recurring element was apparently first used in “Deor’s Lament” (circa 9th century), where it takes the form “That passed, so too shall this.” (If you’ve read the phrase “This too shall pass,” it probably came from here.) • A remark that Churchill made in a World War II speech, offering six feet of English ground to Hitler, originated centuries earlier, in a text narrating a prelude to the Battle of Hastings. • “[Gaelic is] a Celtic language, of course similar to Welsh, Irish, and the Breton language carried to Brittany, or Bretagne…, by the British who took refuge there during the Saxon invasions in the fifth century. That is why it is still called Great Britain, to distinguish it from small Britain, or Brittany, in France.” • A poem of a few hundred lines came to Coleridge in a dream. When he awoke, he remembered it and began writing it down. Then a neighbor dropped in. By the time he left, Coleridge could no longer remember the rest of the poem. This was the origin of “Kubla Khan,” which is only a few dozen lines in length. • As an illustration of “a certain modesty, a certain bashfulness” in the English, Borges cites an anecdote. When some people from a magazine went to see Thackeray with the intention of writing about him, he sent them away. Borges says, “He thought that the work of the writer should be public, but the life of the author should not be.” • J. B. Priestley used the first line of a Rossetti sonnet called “Sudden Light,” “I have been here before,” as the title of one of his plays about time. The phrase reflects Rossetti’s belief in cyclical history, in the doctrine of eternal return. • Even the endnotes have their rewards. One of them discusses terms for the early form of our language, which was for a time referred to as Anglo-Saxon (the term Borges prefers). Henry Sweet, the philologist who influenced Shaw’s Pygmalion, was instrumental in the adoption of the label “Old English,” essentially to bring it into line with present-day English—partly for patriotic reasons.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christian Williams

    This 1966 lecture series re-establishes Borges are one of the most interesting minds in literature, and one of the most eccentric. It is not a good introduction to his work, that would be the poems (get an edition with Spanish and English on facing pages) and the stories. His long fascination with Old English is fairly bizarre, considering his college kids in Argentina, and his frequent quotations to them in the language makes you wonder how the devil anybody took notes in an alphabet that can't This 1966 lecture series re-establishes Borges are one of the most interesting minds in literature, and one of the most eccentric. It is not a good introduction to his work, that would be the poems (get an edition with Spanish and English on facing pages) and the stories. His long fascination with Old English is fairly bizarre, considering his college kids in Argentina, and his frequent quotations to them in the language makes you wonder how the devil anybody took notes in an alphabet that can't even be authentically pronounced. His subsequent lectures on the Romantics evidence a tolerance I no longer have, and you sorta have to read behind the lines to get at the yawn of Woodsworth and the, well, this is personal, but read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner Again and see if you don;t think, as I do now, that Coleridge is a child and this Great Work, assigned to every high school kid in America, is sing-songy pap. Stevenson? Blah. Thoreau? Read Walden again and it feels like a callow kid lecturing the bourgeoisie from the pulpit of a tulip. Professor Borges' interest is catholic and clear-eyed, I just found the collection dutiful to his memory but otherwise without persuasiveness on a reading list.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This was an enjoyable read, and conveniently divided into "lectures" of mostly discrete topics, which lent themselves to reading before bed. The thoroughness varies -- the early lessons have a wealth of historical/contextual info, whereas some of the lectures later in the text seem to be summarizing/recapitulating what is literally happening in the poem or passage. There's a lot of biographical info about the authors themselves which, honestly, sometimes I'd prefer not to know (so many seem to h This was an enjoyable read, and conveniently divided into "lectures" of mostly discrete topics, which lent themselves to reading before bed. The thoroughness varies -- the early lessons have a wealth of historical/contextual info, whereas some of the lectures later in the text seem to be summarizing/recapitulating what is literally happening in the poem or passage. There's a lot of biographical info about the authors themselves which, honestly, sometimes I'd prefer not to know (so many seem to have been irascible dicks), but it all makes for an interesting, if somewhat scattered, read. Definitely the earlier lectures were interesting. Unfortunately more of a survey than anything else.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert Giambo

    Lectures from the 60's by Borges based on student transcripts, the topics covered by the lectures are quite quirky. An okay book. Read Borges short stories - those are five stars. Lectures from the 60's by Borges based on student transcripts, the topics covered by the lectures are quite quirky. An okay book. Read Borges short stories - those are five stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bill Bangham

    Worth the read for insights into the workings of a great mind. Beyond that, a delight for anyone enamored with English literature and writing in general.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Gault

    Unlike any English class I've ever taken! The depth of Borghes' knowledge is incredible, his interests all over the place and his love of the music in English poetry and prose was profound. Unlike any English class I've ever taken! The depth of Borghes' knowledge is incredible, his interests all over the place and his love of the music in English poetry and prose was profound.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arthurian Tapestry

    I love Borges, particularly his brief and imaginative prose fictions; that said, I was a bit dubious as to how someone without a degree in literature could possibly be fit to teach it. Bit by bit in the book, I noticed the idiosyncratic romantic tendencies which Borges employed to pick and choose the works that he preferred. How could you spend so much time on Old English literature when there was so much turf to cover? I think he could have easily given an entire course on the subject. Furtherm I love Borges, particularly his brief and imaginative prose fictions; that said, I was a bit dubious as to how someone without a degree in literature could possibly be fit to teach it. Bit by bit in the book, I noticed the idiosyncratic romantic tendencies which Borges employed to pick and choose the works that he preferred. How could you spend so much time on Old English literature when there was so much turf to cover? I think he could have easily given an entire course on the subject. Furthermore, his course is rife with tangents that range from the Buddha to literatures from other languages, although it does serve to show the intertextual layers that are woven into great works; but the last straw for me lay with his unproven contentions that the modern Spaniard and all those that followed (hence the Argentinian) are directly related to Beowulf. After which Milton and Shakespeare are given such short shrift on a course that is supposed to be about English lit. This sounded like awful planning to me. I remember prepping a syllabus for an Arthurian course, carefully weighing the weeks against which readings I would choose to fit the bill— would I go with those that are regarded more less canonical (if such a thing exists) or those that suited my fancy? It seems Borges chose the latter for his own subject and succeeded in delivering enticing narratives to connect with his students and bring some of the poems and short stories alive. Soon I found myself wishing to pursue many of the books he was referring to. In being critical of the holes or gaps I found in Borges’ own readings, I seemed to be discovering my own. Then I reached the end of the book and understood Borges’ pedagogy at last and wished I could have used this as a bit of a standard against my own postgraduate tendencies to complicate readings with, well, just insert any of the dizzying lit theories here. In my own studies I was told I could possibly end up hating the subject I had chosen to teach. Borges steers us away from such perils and invites us to feel the contagion of reading, to be swept up in the story, in the aesthetic pleasures of verse, even in the backdrop of the complicated lives of the author. I still knock off a star, if only that I still stubbornly feel that a bit of academic discipline should have kept some of Borges' indulgent tangents in check. Conversely, Borges keeps some of my own rigors in check. Thus, I wish to leave you with this quote towards the end of the book and it is in this spirit which you should temper your approach not only towards Borges and this book, but everything you read thereafter: “If a book is tedious to you, leave it, even if that book is Paradise Lost—which is not tedious to me—or Don Quixote—which also is not tedious to me. But if a book is tedious to you, don’t read it; that book was not written for you. Reading should be a form of happiness, so I would advise all possible readers of my last will and testament—which I do not plan to write—I would advise them to read a lot, and not to get intimidated by writers’ reputations, to continue to look for personal happiness, personal enjoyment. It is the only way to read.”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Littrell

    We should all be lucky enough to be loved by someone -- as much as that old, blind Argentinian loved English literature. I feel pretty darn jealous of Borges's students at the University of Buenos Aires (while also feeling a little bit of pity for them, too), because he was clearly a wonderful, enthusiastic, funny, and frustrating professor. It sure doesn't resemble any literature survey I've sat through, and that's probably for the best. Borges gleefully chucks canon to curb and walks his class We should all be lucky enough to be loved by someone -- as much as that old, blind Argentinian loved English literature. I feel pretty darn jealous of Borges's students at the University of Buenos Aires (while also feeling a little bit of pity for them, too), because he was clearly a wonderful, enthusiastic, funny, and frustrating professor. It sure doesn't resemble any literature survey I've sat through, and that's probably for the best. Borges gleefully chucks canon to curb and walks his class through a very idiosyncratic collection of writers. I had never even heard of Dante Rossetti before, but I painfully wish I was in the classroom that day while Borges rattled off Rossetti's sad life from memory and then sang him praises. Full of bias and affection for these writers, you feel like every obscure line of poetry that Borges recites must be the most important line in history. Admittedly, Borges can be a little...circuitous. He's the living embodiment of the phrase "He's forgotten more than I'll ever know." Consequently, he'll rattle off fact after fact (most of them even true!), and it can be hard to see how it all connects. He interrupts his discussion of Samuel Taylor Coleridge to explain the plot of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, and I still haven't the foggiest what on earth was the point of all that. But, it's hard to be mad at Borges, as he chuckles at his own digressions and mistakes, and carefully shepherds his students on to the next fascinating class. (Small note: the translation is mostly brilliant and flawlessly captures Borges's voice. But the translator keeps using the word 'pathetic' in the sense of compassion or sympathy, and that is really jarring given its negative connotation. It took me a while to realize Borges wasn't ragging on every book each time he called it pathetic)

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Pistelli

    This recent volume (published by New Directions, translated by Katherine Silver, and edited and annotated by Martín Hadis and Martín Arias) is derived from student recordings and transcriptions of a lecture course on the history of English literature that Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires (where he had been hired on the strength of his literary reputation, despite not having an advanced degree, about a decade earlier). Irrespective of the Borgesian contents, it is a good book This recent volume (published by New Directions, translated by Katherine Silver, and edited and annotated by Martín Hadis and Martín Arias) is derived from student recordings and transcriptions of a lecture course on the history of English literature that Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires (where he had been hired on the strength of his literary reputation, despite not having an advanced degree, about a decade earlier). Irrespective of the Borgesian contents, it is a good book all around—attractively designed, durably bound, and possessed of an excellent scholarly apparatus. As for Borges's actual course: if you've read any other review of this book, you already know of the Argentine writer's eccentric choice of texts. The first seven (of 25) classes are devoted to the Anglo-Saxon period, encompassing such texts as Beowulf, "The Wanderer," The Battle of Maldon, and others. Then Borges leaps forward hundreds of years—over Chaucer, Marlowe, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton—to arrive at the eighteenth century, where he focuses for several classes on Samuel Johnson before beginning the Romantic movement with the semi-fraudulent Wanderings of Ossian; from there, he plots a more conventional course through Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Dickens, and Browning, before getting weird again as he devotes a mind-numbing number of pages to the inspection (or sometimes just recitation) of some (to my mind) minor verse by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris. Finally, he concludes with a long, lovely appreciation of Stevenson, including asides on Wilde and Chesterton. There is a method to this madness, though. A critical commonplace about Borges is that he was torn between his cosmopolitan modernist vision (associated with his fiction's emphasis on the infinitude of literature) and his longings toward masculine violence and the raw authentic gaucho life of the Pampas. I would ague that Borges here projects this inner conflict onto English literature: he begins with England's own primal scene—the masculine contest of competing ethnicities (Angle, Saxon, Jute, Dane, Celt, Geat, etc.) and ideologies (pagan vs. Christian) over the island after the fall of Rome. Borges indulges his taste for this literature of the violent frontier in examining these texts, but he does not go in for fantasies of primordial authenticity: for instance, he is at pains to emphasize the learned quality of Beowulf, its Virgilian Latinity. By rushing forth from the Anglo-Saxon period to the Age of Reason, Borges positions Johnson, with his melancholy and chastened Christian wisdom in competition with his combative nationalism, as the fulcrum of his canon (though why Shakespeare, who haunts the book, could not have played that role is unclear). After Johnson comes Ossian and medievalism and the whole panoply of Romantic nationalism—in other words, the ideological hallucinations of the moderns over the pre-modern reality Borges has spent seven earlier classes meticulously describing in admiring but de-idealizing tones. From the introduction of Johnson onward, Borges essentially charts the distance or proximity of each writer under his gaze to this Romantic nationalist mood of trying to recreate the putative wholeness or vitality of pre-industrial or pre-Norman (or even pre-Christian) English culture, which Borges has shown not have been much of a whole, to which lack it owed its vitality. And while he admires the quixotic efforts of a William Morris toward the resuscitation of a Teutonic sensibility to English letters, I think it is safe to say he admires more the advanced techniques of a Dickens, Browning, or Stevenson—seeing them as more in line with the advanced techniques of the Virgil-reading Beowulf bard. Borges's lectures do not look terribly impressive—they consist of biography, context, and redescription of the text under discussion, with little in the way of twentieth-century hermeneutics—but taken as a whole, they may amount to an attempt to discredit the very idea of "culture" (in the sense of the organic expression of ethnic identity) in favor of "literature." What, to Borges, is literature? What is it if not the spontaneous effusion of blood and soil? One theme throughout the course is the idea of inspiration: early on, Borges discusses the earliest English poem, Caedmon's hymn, a poem dictated to a monk in a vision. He traces this Caedmon theme, then, through the dream that led Coleridge to write "Kubla Khan" and the dream that led Stevenson to write The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some of the best literature, in other words, descends upon the poet from well above the cultural realm—from some invisible world. After that, it is up to the poet's mastery of form to make literature of his vision. These weighty themes just about make up for the course's oddness of design, but still, I want to quibble with what seem like arbitrary choices. I will even grant Borges his donnée of skipping most of the medieval period and the entire Renaissance, especially since Shakespeare is present throughout the book, like Banquo's ghost at Macbeth's feast. But why go on at such extraordinary length about Rossetti and Morris while hardly mentioning Tennyson, probably the best poet qua poet to go the medievalizing route? Why such neglect of the modern novel (only Dickens is treated at any length)? The absence of women writers is perhaps to be expected given the author and the time of his formative years (there is an appreciative mention of Woolf and a neutral-to-patronizing one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning), and I grasp why a man of Borges's sensibility would have no interest in the kind of ethical realism perfected by Jane Austen or George Eliot; but does the fabulist who warns us of the demiurgic temptation have nothing whatever to say about the author of Frankenstein, and does the creator of a fantastical bestiary have no words for the poet of "Goblin Market"? And I would certainly have liked to hear more about Wilde (whom Borges once pronounced correct about everything). Quibbles aside, this book is more complex than it looks, and would be fun to read—for Borges's asides on verse, on history, on his tastes, and on his life—even if it were not so complex. In an afterword, he inveighs against reading for obligation instead of pleasure (this is no doubt his apologia for not including so many of the expected authors), and Professor Borges can be read for pleasure without a doubt.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Pyjov

    "In every instance, poetry comes before prose. It seems that man sings before he speaks." (4) [about Scandinavian poetry] "As a shield was the 'pirate's moon' - shields were round and made of wood - and a spear was the 'shield's serpent,' for the spear could destroy the shield, that spear would be the 'serpent of the pirate moon." (6) "As far as the religious conversion of the Germanic peoples, it is worth nothing that being polytheistic, they had no problem accepting yet another god: one more is "In every instance, poetry comes before prose. It seems that man sings before he speaks." (4) [about Scandinavian poetry] "As a shield was the 'pirate's moon' - shields were round and made of wood - and a spear was the 'shield's serpent,' for the spear could destroy the shield, that spear would be the 'serpent of the pirate moon." (6) "As far as the religious conversion of the Germanic peoples, it is worth nothing that being polytheistic, they had no problem accepting yet another god: one more is nothing. For us, for example, it would be rather difficult to accept polytheistic paganism. But for the Germanic peoples, it was not; at first Christ was merely a new god. The issue of conversion, moreover, presented few problems. Coversion was not, as it is nw, an individual act; rather, if the king converted, the entire people converted." (7)

  19. 5 out of 5

    L.E.

    This book, its purpose, is like sticking one’s hand into a sack of various, intermixed seeds, seeds which are all related to each other somehow, even if the fist you pull back out does not contain all the variants in the sack. Now, you may choose to plant these seeds and further discover for yourself how the leaves or flowers or fruits of their offspring are similar and different in their ways, or you may decide you prefer to just look at the seeds every now and then, and so you lock them in a c This book, its purpose, is like sticking one’s hand into a sack of various, intermixed seeds, seeds which are all related to each other somehow, even if the fist you pull back out does not contain all the variants in the sack. Now, you may choose to plant these seeds and further discover for yourself how the leaves or flowers or fruits of their offspring are similar and different in their ways, or you may decide you prefer to just look at the seeds every now and then, and so you lock them in a case and place them in a drawer somewhere. What remains of anything Borges said in his classes are most basic glimpses of his knowledgeable working mind... but it is not everything. The wonderful thing about this book is that there are enough seeds here to fill a terrarium, an arboretum, or a forest, if one should choose to.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Varapanyo Bhikkhu

    Emile Cioran Letter to Fernando Savater Paris, December 10, 1976 Dear Friend. In November, during your visit to Paris, you asked me to collaborate on a volume of tributes to Borges- My first reaction was negative; my second . . . as well. What is the use of celebrating him when the universities themselves are doing so? The misfortune of being recognized has befallen him. He deserved better. He deserved to remain in obscurity, in the Imperceptible, to remain as ineffable and unpopular as nuance itsel Emile Cioran Letter to Fernando Savater Paris, December 10, 1976 Dear Friend. In November, during your visit to Paris, you asked me to collaborate on a volume of tributes to Borges- My first reaction was negative; my second . . . as well. What is the use of celebrating him when the universities themselves are doing so? The misfortune of being recognized has befallen him. He deserved better. He deserved to remain in obscurity, in the Imperceptible, to remain as ineffable and unpopular as nuance itself. There he was at home. Consecration is the worst of punishments — for a writer in general, and particularly for a writer of his kind. Once everyone starts quoting him, you must leave off; if you do not, you feel you are merely swelling the ranks of his “admirers,” of his enemies. Those who want to do him justice at all costs are merely hastening his downfall. I shall stop here, for if I continue in this style I shall end by pitying his fate. And there is every reason to suppose he can do that on his own. I think I have already told you that if I was so interested in him, it was because he represented a vanishing specimen of humanity: he embodies the paradox of a sedentary man without an intellectual patrie, a stay-at-home adventurer at ease in several civilizations and literatures, a splendid and doomed monster. In Europe, as a kindred example, we may cite that friend of Rilke’s, Rudolf Kassner, who early in this century published a work of the very first order about English poetry (it was after reading that book during the last war that I began to learn English . . .) and who spoke with admirable acuity of Sterne, of Gogol, of Kierkegaard, as well as of the Maghreb or of India. Normally depth and erudition do not go together but he somehow reconciled them: a universal mind, lacking only grace, only seduction. It is here that Borges’s superiority appears: incomparably seductive, he has managed to put a touch of the impalpable, the aerial, a wisp of lace, on everything, even on the most arduous reasoning. For in Borges everything is transfigured by the spirit of play, by a dance of dazzling trouvailles and delicious sophistries. I have never been attracted by minds confined to a single form of culture. “Not to take root, not to belong to any community”: such has been and such is my motto. Oriented toward other horizons, I have always wanted to know what was happening elsewhere; by the time I was twenty, the Balkan skyline had nothing more to offer me. This is the drama, and also the advantage, of being born in a minor “cultural” space. The foreign had become my god — whence that thirst to travel through literatures and philosophies, to devour them with a morbid ardor. What is happening in Eastern Europe must inevitably happen in the countries of Latin America, and I have noticed that its representatives are infinitely better informed, more “cultivated,” than the incurably provincial Westerners. Neither in France nor in England do I see anyone who has a curiosity comparable to Borges’s, a curiosity hypertrophied to the point of mania, to vice — I say “vice.” for in matters of art and reflection, whatever does not turn into a somewhat perverse fervor is superficial, hence unreal. As a student, I was led to investigate the disciples of Schopenhauer. Among them was a certain Philipp Mainlander, who particularly attracted me. Author of a Philosophy of Deliverance, he enjoyed the additional distinction, in my eyes, of having committed suicide. This completely forgotten philosopher, I flattered myself belonged to me alone — not that there was any particular merit in my preoccupation: my studies had inevitably brought me to him. But imagine my astonishment when, much later, I came across a text by Borges that plucked him, precisely, out of oblivion! If I cite this example, it is because from that moment I began thinking more seriously than before about the condition of Borges, fated — reduced — to universality, constrained to exercise his mind in all directions, if only to escape the Argentine asphyxia. It is the South American void that makes the writers of an entire continent more open, more alive, and more diverse than those of Western Europe, paralyzed by their traditions and incapable of shaking off their prestigious sclerosis. Since you ask what I like most about Borges, I have no hesitation in answering that it is his freedom in the most varied realms, his faculty of speaking with an equal subtlety of the Eternal Return and the Tango. For him everything is equally worthwhile, from the moment he is the center of everything. Universal curiosity is a sign of vitality only if it bears the absolute mark of a self, a self from which everything emanates and where everything ends up: sovereignty of the arbitrary, beginning and end that can be interpreted according to the most capricious criteria. Where is reality in all this? The Self — that supreme farce. . . . Borges’s playfulness reminds me of a certain romantic irony, the metaphysical exploration of illusion juggling with the Infinite. Friedrich Schlegel, today, has his back to Patagonia. . . . Once again, one can only deplore that an Encyclopédie smile and a vision so refined should provoke general approbation, with all that implies. . . . But after all, Borges might become the symbol of a humanity without dogmas or systems, and if there is a utopia to which I should gladly subscribe, it would be the one where we all model ourselves on him — on one of the least ponderous minds that ever was, the last to give its true meaning to the word select. from the book Anathemas and Admirations

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Krueger

    Don’t judge me for how long I took to finish this book - it was over at the boyfriend’s, and with the pandemic I haven’t been able to be over there as much. This book is a transcription and translation of ~25 English literature lectures that Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Bueno Aires. It’s fascinating to see his opinion of the English canon, and especially how he teaches it to the students. (There are admittedly a few lectures I would have slept through, but hey, you can’t always have Don’t judge me for how long I took to finish this book - it was over at the boyfriend’s, and with the pandemic I haven’t been able to be over there as much. This book is a transcription and translation of ~25 English literature lectures that Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Bueno Aires. It’s fascinating to see his opinion of the English canon, and especially how he teaches it to the students. (There are admittedly a few lectures I would have slept through, but hey, you can’t always have perfect lectures.) If you’d like to know more about Borges’ opinions about English literature, and his style of teaching, I’d recommend reading through this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Lira

    Loved it very much! It was a very entertaing reading and Borges is such a good teacher. It is amazing how much he has a good memory since most quotes he mentions he didn't consult the books. Borge's English literature lectures at the University of Buenos Aires are transcribed in the book and I felt it was more like a conversation than classes. Loved it very much! It was a very entertaing reading and Borges is such a good teacher. It is amazing how much he has a good memory since most quotes he mentions he didn't consult the books. Borge's English literature lectures at the University of Buenos Aires are transcribed in the book and I felt it was more like a conversation than classes.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katharine Duckett

    Have you ever wanted Jorge Luis Borges to take you on a charmingly digressive tour of English literature from Anglo-Saxon poetry up until right about Wilde? I know I have. Will certainly return to this again and again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    J Murnaghan

    Superb. Chronicles his personal enthusiasms.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick De Voil

    Yeah I like it! Good summary of English literature in an interesting fashion. Not familiar prior to this - feel far more knowledgable, probs the best book I could read but im narrow

  26. 5 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    In a semester, Borges offers several lectures on English Literature through the perspective of Comparative Literature or World Literature. The reader, like the attendance once, witness the mastery of literary topics, that even though are quite conservative, are necessary to have good foundation in English Literature, particularly for the inclusion of Spanish, Italian and German Literature. A good Borges reader, on the other hand, will notice important contributions to understand Borges stories s In a semester, Borges offers several lectures on English Literature through the perspective of Comparative Literature or World Literature. The reader, like the attendance once, witness the mastery of literary topics, that even though are quite conservative, are necessary to have good foundation in English Literature, particularly for the inclusion of Spanish, Italian and German Literature. A good Borges reader, on the other hand, will notice important contributions to understand Borges stories such as the "Aleph," Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius," among others and his own poetry. The lectures also illuminates Borges' fixation with the Celts, Swedenborg, Leibniz, but also his issues with Nietzsche. One cannot ignore Borges' discussion of American slavery, which, even thought it is not supported, it is not even denied. That is consistence with several racial and chauvinist moments that still haunt the illustrious work of one of the greatest writers of all time.

  27. 5 out of 5

    bella gaia

    An absolutely marvellous book. I fell in love with all of Borges’ favourite writers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Chiaromonte

    25 lessons about English literature, taken by Jorge Luis Borges at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. They were recoded and therefore transcripted; then, the text was published, after several revisions. The book maintains the form of a spoken discourse and for this reason the repetitions and the expressions maintained highlight their being transcripted and are sometimes quite annoying and disturbing. The text shows Borges's ardor and enthusiasm about English literature (arcaic, medieval and modern 25 lessons about English literature, taken by Jorge Luis Borges at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. They were recoded and therefore transcripted; then, the text was published, after several revisions. The book maintains the form of a spoken discourse and for this reason the repetitions and the expressions maintained highlight their being transcripted and are sometimes quite annoying and disturbing. The text shows Borges's ardor and enthusiasm about English literature (arcaic, medieval and modern), but the speech is often difficult to follow (such as the plot of the cited works). The argument is always filled with many digressions, that either way never let it lose coherence. The Italian translation is faithful to the source text, so it maintains the repetitions and renders the spoken language. However, we must appreciate the intense labour behind this book, which remains a treasure on anyone's shelves.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Arnold

    If you're a fan of literature, meaning that you get pleasure out of not only reading but also thinking over and talking about books, then this is a must-read simply because it's one of the greatest writers of all time talking about some of the other greatest writers of all time with his customary immense insight and analytical ability. Idiosyncratically composed, far-ranging in scope, and unbelievably erudite, this collection is all the more amazing because it was compiled from a series of lectu If you're a fan of literature, meaning that you get pleasure out of not only reading but also thinking over and talking about books, then this is a must-read simply because it's one of the greatest writers of all time talking about some of the other greatest writers of all time with his customary immense insight and analytical ability. Idiosyncratically composed, far-ranging in scope, and unbelievably erudite, this collection is all the more amazing because it was compiled from a series of lectures he gave to students at the University of Buenos Aires in 1966 completely without notes and after having been legally blind for an entire decade. The course he was teaching was on English Literature, which to Borges means going back to the very beginning with Anglo-Saxon literature. He spends the first seven lectures on things like Anglo-Saxon poetic styles, Beowulf, the Finnsburgh Fragment, Caedmon, and the elegiac tradition. He then, surprisingly, mostly skips over the big guys like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope and jumps right to the 18th century to discuss Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, William Blake, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Dante Rosetti, William Morris, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Among and in between these brief but incredibly dense capsule biographies and literary treatments are all kinds of interesting side discussions of things like the history of the runic alphabet, why Anglo-Saxon poems use alliteration instead of rhymes, how English's lack of grammatical gender sounds to speakers of Romance languages, the literary effects of the Battles of Hastings and Maldon, how English literature differs from the French, the film Rashomon, the upsides of forgetfulness for G. K. Chesterton, the nature of crime and whether murdering someone truly makes you "a murderer", the difference between strong plots and strong characters in detective fiction, and a million other fascinating topics, tossing off all these thought-provoking insights as if they had just occurred to him. Here's a good example of the way he talks about someone, not only relating their work to that of their contemporaries, but also people throughout space and time: "William Blake, on the contrary, remains not only outside the pseudo-classic school (to use the most elevated term), and that is the school represented by [Alexander] Pope, but he also remains outside the romantic movement. He is an individual poet, and if there is anything we can connect him to - for, as Rubén Darío said, there is no literary Adam - we would have to connect him to much more ancient traditions: to the Cathar heretics in the south of France, the Gnostics in Asia Minor and Alexandria in the first century after Christ, and of course to the great and visionary Swedish thinker, Emmanuel Swedenborg." Yes... Gnostics and Swedenborg... that's just what I thought as well. You could spend hours or days trying to unpack those connections he drew in just two quick sentences, but he rattles off kind of panoptic synthesis of tradition so effortlessly it's clear that he's really thought about the connections between them and is not trying to play some kind of Harold Bloom-ish ranking game. Even if some of the sections aren't quite as riveting as the others - I thought some of the stuff about the Anglo-Saxons in the beginning and William Morris' poetry towards the end dragged on a bit long - there are so many quotable gems and good reading suggestions inside that it beggars belief. If you liked his essays in Selected Non-Fictions then this is the natural next step.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sean Carman

    This recently translated collection of lectures on the history of English Literature that Borges gave at the University of Buenos Aires in the 1960s is a really fun read. It's basically a brief survey of English literature, from Beowulf to J.D. Salinger. Each lecture touches briefly on its subjects, and provides a few key insights into the works in question. Borges speaks in a grandfatherly tone. The book is fun to read both for the fantasy it offers (sitting at Borges' feet, listening to his wo This recently translated collection of lectures on the history of English Literature that Borges gave at the University of Buenos Aires in the 1960s is a really fun read. It's basically a brief survey of English literature, from Beowulf to J.D. Salinger. Each lecture touches briefly on its subjects, and provides a few key insights into the works in question. Borges speaks in a grandfatherly tone. The book is fun to read both for the fantasy it offers (sitting at Borges' feet, listening to his wonderful accent, hearing the cadence of his voice, perhaps planning to catch him after class to ask a question, etc.) and for its literarily analysis. I wanted to mention, also, that this book came into existence through a series of magical coincidences worthy of a Borges tale. The students of these classes apparently taped the lectures, so that their colleagues could listen to the lectures they missed. Borges wasn't as famous then, but I imagine the students must have realized how lucky they were to have him as their teacher, and maybe that contributed to their decision to tape the lectures. Later, the editors of this volume took the time to transcribe the tapes. And now, in the final twist in this unlikely story, they've been translated into English. It's a miracle these lectures made it into print in English. We are lucky to have them.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.