×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Selected Non-Fictions: Volume 3
     

Selected Non-Fictions: Volume 3

by Jorge Luis Borges, Eliot Weinberger (Editor), Esther Allen (Translator), Suzanne Jill Levine (Translator)
 

See All Formats & Editions

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism
 
It will come as a surprise to some readers that the greater part of Jorge Luis Borges's extraordinary writing was not in the genres of fiction or poetry, but in the various forms of non-fiction prose. His thousands of pages of essays, reviews, prologues, lectures, and notes

Overview

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism
 
It will come as a surprise to some readers that the greater part of Jorge Luis Borges's extraordinary writing was not in the genres of fiction or poetry, but in the various forms of non-fiction prose. His thousands of pages of essays, reviews, prologues, lectures, and notes on politics and culture—though revered in Latin America and Europe as among his finest work—have scarcely been translated into English.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dizzying in scope and dazzling in execution … Should throw even the most dedicated Borges fan for a loop." The New Yorker
 
"Intelligently selected and magically translated … Borges's uniqueness in 20th-century letters is rooted in an almost monstrous combination: encyclopedic knowledge, razorlike critical judgment and a ravishing appreciation for the magical and pagan dimension in every situation."
The New York Times
 
"A remarkable achievement, offering the general reader and Borges aficianados alike a rapturous glimpse into one of literature's most fertile and original minds." —San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle
 
"Sheer delight … witty and elaborate, in turn intimate and magisterial … his is the literature of eternity."
The Times (London)
 
"A cornucopia of wit, wisdom and critical insights." Times Literary Supplement
Joshua Klein
It has been said of Shakespeare's genius that were his plays not easy to write, they would have been impossible. The implication is that under Shakespeare's working conditions--dim candlelight, quill and ink on parchment--the Bard could not have been so astoundingly prolific had his enduring classics not emerged from his mind all but fully formed. That's also the root of persistent yet baseless rumors that Shakespeare's works were not all of his own devising; how could one man truly be so great? But you don't work hard to become a genius: Genius drives you to work hard. A perfect example is Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Revered for his intellect and fascinating breadth of knowledge, Borges is best know for his fiction and poetry. Along with James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, and Vladimir Nabakov, he's universally regarded as one of the great 20th-century authors to have never been awarded a Nobel Prize in literature. Yet until his death in 1986, Borges wrote a vast expanse of essays, reviews, and other non-fiction pieces, much of it collected and made available in English for the first time in Selected Non-Fictions. Edited by Eliot Weinberger and diligently translated by Weinberger and two helping hands, the book is a revelation. Much of Borges' non-fiction echoes the metaphysical themes of his fiction, and his favorite subjects (The Arabian Nights, Don Quixote) recur again and again. But perhaps the most revealing aspect of Selected Non-Fictions is Borges' meeting with the mundane. It seems that over the course of his 87 years, he consumed and digested anything he could. Consequently, Selected Non-Fictions' pieces reflect his fascination with the profound (religion, war), the popular (King Kong, which he pans for its clunky ape portrayal), and some combination of the two (a positive review of Joyce's Ulysses, even though Borges, to the empowerment of college students around the world, admits he hasn't read the whole thing). Selected Non-Fictions also collects some hilarious reviews of popular detective fiction and the like that Borges wrote for El Hugar (an Argentine women's magazine), a few commissioned prologues, and, ultimately, transcripts of speeches and lectures made after he had gone blind. Reading through the book's surprisingly accessible and entertaining works raises a perplexing question: How can one man know so much about everything? Thankfully, with Selected Non-Fictions, Borges' enviable gifts have been made more apparent than ever before.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Reviewing a book that seeks to validate the existence of ghosts through testimony by the upper crust of British society, Borges writes: "the Honorable Reginald Fortescue became a firm believer in the existence of `an alarming spectre.' As for myself, I don't know what to think: for the moment, I refuse to believe in the alarming Reginald Fortescue until an honorable spectre becomes a firm believer in his existence." In this compilation of nonfiction prose, the third of Viking's magisterial three-volume collection of Borges's complete works, a new, fuller Borges emerges, as the writer becomes a joker; the fabulist shows himself to be a rationalistic skeptic; and the alleged conservative skewers upper-class pretensions. We also find the familiar man of letters in such classic essays as "A New Refutation of Time" and "Kafka's Precursors" (which foreshadows the most interesting ideas of Harold Bloom in a mere two and a half pages). Among the gems to appear in English for the first time are slyly brilliant literary essays, such as an appreciation of Flaubert's enigmatic novel, Bouvard and P cuchet, and an authoritative critical history of the translations of the 1001 Nights. Other newly available aspects of Borges's oeuvre are trenchant critiques of Argentinean anti-Semitism; contemporary reviews of such works as Citizen Kane, Absalom, Absalom and Finnegan's Wake (Borges finds it incomprehensible); and capsule literary biographies for a woman's magazine. While the translations capture Borges's unfailingly elegant style, the editing at times seems overly academic: certain sentences, even paragraphs, are repeated, and certain topics (particularly time and eternity) are overrepresented, a tendency that makes the book rather difficult to read straight through. Even so, this is a volume of inexhaustible delights. First serial to Grand Street. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
After Collected Fictions and Selected Poems, nonfiction pieces from a 20th-century master, making up a three-volume centenary edition. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mirrors, labyrinths, libraries, gardens, doppelg„ngers, knife fights, and tigers recur memorably in these witty, colorful tales'which have exerted an incalculable influence on the past half-century's fiction. For this first installment in a projected three-volume series of Borges's work (to be followed by poetry and nonfiction collections), translator-editor Hurley has included the contents of seven previously published books (notably, the seminal Ficciones, 1944), plus previously untranslated work from the 1980s (of which Shakespeare's Memory most successfully recapitulates Borges's urbane bridging of temporal and imaginary "worlds"). Gloriously ruminative and bookish, Borges's teasing fictions skillfully absorb the influences of his native Argentina's indigenous folktales, various world mythologies, Anglo-Saxon verse, Icelandic saga, Poe, Cervantes, and Chesterton, along with numerous other literary touchstones. Among the best: the arcane pseudohistory of an imaginary planet ("Tlon, Ugbar, Orbus Tertius"); a memorable realization of Borges's credo that all "new" stories are inevitably old ones retold ("Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote"); a clever lampooning of the author's own polymathism ("Funes the Memorious"); and a supremely ingenious detective story ("Death and the Compass"). Authoritative testimony to the virtues of eclecticism and cosmopolitanism, and a matchless gift to readers that belongs, as the old saying goes, in every library. (First serial to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Grand Street)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140290110
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/28/2000
Pages:
576
Sales rank:
303,236
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Dizzying in scope and dazzling in execution … Should throw even the most dedicated Borges fan for a loop."
The New Yorker

"Intelligently selected and magically translated … Borges's uniqueness in 20th-century letters is rooted in an almost monstrous combination: encyclopedic knowledge, razorlike critical judgment and a ravishing appreciation for the magical and pagan dimension in every situation."
—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"A remarkable achievement, offering the general reader and Borges aficianados alike a rapturous glimpse into one of literature's most fertile and original minds."
—Andrew Roe, San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle

"Sheer delight … witty and elaborate, in turn intimate and magisterial … his is the literature of eternity."
—Peter Ackroyd, The (London) Times

"A cornucopia of wit, wisdom and critical insights."
—George Steiner, Times Literary Supplement

Meet the Author

Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires in 1989 and was educated in Europe. One of the most widely acclaimed writers of our time, he published many collections of poems, essays, and short stories before his death in Geneva in June 1986. In 1961 Borges shared the International Publisher’s prize with Samuel Beckett. The Ingram Merrill Foundation granted him its Annual Literary Award in 1966 for his “outstanding contribution to literature.” In 1971 Columbia University awarded him the first of many degrees of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa (eventually the list included both Oxford and Cambridge), that he was to receive from the English-speaking world. In 1971 he also received the fifth biennial Jerusalem Prize and in 1973 was given one of Mexico’s most prestigious cultural awards, the Alfonso Reyes Prize. In 1980 he shared with Gerardo Diego the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish world’s highest literary accolade. Borges was Director of the Argentine National Library from 1955 until 1973. 

Eliot Weinberger (editor/co-translator) is an essayist and translator. His books of essays include Works on Paper, Outside Stories, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, and Karmic Traces. His translations include the Collected Poems 1957–1987 of Octavio Paz, Bortes’ Seven Nights, and Bei Dao’s Unlock. In 1992, he was named the first recipient of the PEN/Kolovakos Award for his work promoting Hispanic literature in the United States.
 
Esther Allen (co-translator) has translated numerous works from Spanish and French, including The Book of Lamentations by Rosario Castellanos.
 
Suzanne Jill Levine (co-translator) is the author of The Subversive Scribe and the biography Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions. She is a professor of Latin American literature at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where she also directs a Translation Studies doctoral program. She has translated more than two dozen books, including works by Puig, Cortazar, Donoso, Sarduy, Bioy Casares, and Cabrera Infante. 

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
August 24, 1899
Date of Death:
June 14, 1986
Place of Birth:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Place of Death:
Geneva, Switzerland
Education:
B.A., Collège Calvin de Genève, 1914

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews