Professor Borges: A Course On English Literature

Professor Borges: A Course On English Literature


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Now in paperback Borges’s erudite and entertaining lectures on English literature from Beowulf to Oscar Wilde.

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.

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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811222747
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 09/09/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,266,718
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jorge Luis Borges (1890-1982), Argentine poet, critic, and short-story writer, revolutionized modern literature. He was completely blind when appointed the head of Argentina’s National Library.

Katherine Silver is an award-winning literary translator and the codirector of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC). Her translations include works by Cesar Aira, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Jose Emilio Pacheco, Elena Poniatowska, Jorge Franco, and Martin Adan, among others.

Martín Arias is a writer, journalist, and senior researcher at the National Library's Center for Research in Argentina.

Martín Hadis is a professor, writer, and researcher.

Date of Birth:

August 24, 1899

Date of Death:

June 14, 1986

Place of Birth:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Place of Death:

Geneva, Switzerland


B.A., Collège Calvin de Genève, 1914

Table of Contents

About this Book xi

Class 1 The Anglo-Saxons. Genealogy of the Germanic kings. Poetry and kennings 1

Class 2 Beowulf. Description of the Germans. Ancient funeral rites 8

Class 3 Beowulf. Bravery and boastfulness: Beowulf as compared to the compadritos 12

Class 4 The Finnsburh Fragment. The Vikings. Anecdotes from Borges's trip to York. "The Battle of Brunanburh." Tennyson's translation 24

Class 5 "The Battle of Maldon." Christian poetry. "Caedmon's Hymn." The runic alphabet. Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon elegies 35

Class 6 The origins of poetry in England. The Anglo-Saxon elegies. Christian poetry: "The Dream of the Rood." 47

Class 7 The two books written by God. The Anglo-Saxon bestiary. Riddles. "The Grave." The Battle of Hastings 57

Class 8 A brief history until the eighteenth century. The life of Samuel Johnson 71

Class 9 Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, by Samuel Johnson. The legend of the Buddha. Optimism and pessimism. Leibniz and Voltaire 77

Class 10 Samuel Johnson as seen by Boswell. The art of biography. Boswell and his critics 88

Class 11 The romantic movement. The life of James Macpherson. The invention of Ossian. Opinions about Ossian. Polemic with Johnson. Reappraisal of Macpherson 100

Class 12 Life of William Wordsworth. The Prelude and other poems 108

Class 13 The life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. A story by Henry James. Coleridge and Macedonio Fernández, compared. Coleridge and Shakespeare. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote 118

Class 14 Coleridge's final years. Coleridge compared to Dante Alighieri. Coleridge's poems. "Kubla Khan." Coleridge's dream 127

Class 15 The life of William Blake. The poem "The Tyger." Blake and Swedenborg's philosophy, compared. A poem by Rupert Brooke. Blake's poems 137

Class 16 Life of Thomas Carlyle. Sartor Resartus by Carlyle. Carlyle, precursor of Nazism. Bolivars soldiers, according to Carlyle 148

Class 17 The Victorian era. The life of Charles Dickens. The novels of Charles Dickens. William Wilkie Collins. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Dickens 158

Class 18 The life of Robert Browning. The obscurity of his work. His poems 164

Class 19 Robert Browning's poems. A chat with Alfonso Reyes. The Ring and the Book 170

Class 20 The life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Evaluation of Rossetti as a poet and a painter. The theme of the double (fetch). A book of exhumed poems. Rossetti's poems. History cyclically repeated 180

Class 21 Rossetti's poem. Rossetti as seen by Max Nordau. "The Blessed Damozel," "Eden Bower," and "Troy Town." 191

Class 22 The life of William Morris. The three subjects worthy of poetry. King Arthur and the myth of the return of the hero. Morris's interests. Morris and Chaucer. "The Defence of Guenevere." 212

Class 23 "The Tune of the Seven Towers," "The Sailing of the Sword," and The Earthly Paradise, by William Morris. The Icelandic sagas. The story of Gunnar 224

Class 24 The Story of Sigurd the Volsung, by William Morris. The life of Robert Louis Stevenson 236

Class 25 The works of Robert Louis Stevenson: New Arabian Nights, "Markheim," The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jekyll and Hyde in the movies. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. "Requiem," by Stevenson 244

Epilogue 252

Afterword Martín Arias 253

Borges in Class Martín Hadis 258

Endnotes 267

Index 301

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