London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 2000. First U.K. Edition. Octavo (24.1 x 16.5 cm); pp. xvi, 559; front page edges untrimmed; hard cover, bound in black boards with quarter spine off-white fabric, titled and decorated in gilt; the illustrated dust wrapper shows details of the central panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, in the Prado, Madrid. Contents; A Note on This Edition; I. Early Writings 1922-1928; II. 1929-1936; III. Writings for El Hogar (Home) Magazine 1936-1939; IV. 1937-1945; V. Nine Dantesque Essays 1945-1951. VI. 1946-1955. VII. Dictations 1956-1986; Notes; Index.
Head of spine very gently pushed; head and tail of dw spine slightly worn. Near Fine / near fine. Item #422
The writings of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) have been increasingly acclaimed among the classics of 20th century world literature. This edition of The Total Library brings together more than 150 of the brilliant non-fiction pieces of the Argentinian writer, essayist, poet, translator and librarian. A prolific and beguiling writer of non-fiction prose, Borges is revered in Latin America as much for this work as for his fictions and poems. More than 100 pieces presented in The Total Library are here published in English for the first time. The Total Library was first published as Selected Non-Fictions in 1999 by Viking to mark Borges’s centenary; the present volume is the first U.K. edition, published in 2000.
The Borges family had some English ancestry, and Jorge read English and American fiction in the library of his father, who had taught at an English school. Jorge, born in Buenos Aires, learned English before learning Spanish. He moved with his family in 1914 to Switzerland, where he attended the College de Genève, acquiring knowledge of French and German. The family travelled to Spain, Majorca and elsewhere in Europe before returning to Argentina in 1921. The year 1938 proved critical for Jorge’s future: he obtained a major library post; his father died; and Jorge suffered a head wound which led to near-lethal blood poisoning and deprived him of speech. These experiences seem to have released in him deep creative forces.
Despite his successes with fiction, lectures and editing, in 1946 Borges lost his library post for supporting the Allies in World War II, when Juan Perón became Argentina’s President. After Perón was deposed in 1955, he was appointed as honorary Director of the National Public Library and Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. Like his father, Jorge Luis Borges suffered from hereditary problems with his eyesight, and encountered declining vision after the 1920s; he became blind in the later 1950s, forcing him to abandon the writing of long texts in favour of dictating short pieces. He increasingly developed an erudite dream world, most evident in his choice of subjects and themes in his fiction.
The Editor of The Total Library, Eliot Weinberger, was the first recipient of the PEN/Kolovakos Award in 1992 for his work promoting Hispanic Literature in the U.S.A.
Borges’s literary peers have offered their views of his achievement. Maria Vargas Llosa wrote: “I am quite aware of how ephemeral literary assessments may prove, but in Borges’ case I do not consider it rash to acclaim him as the most important thing to happen to imaginative writing in the Spanish language in modern times and as one of the most memorable artists of our age”. Umberto Eco wrote: “Though so different in style, two writers have offered us an image for the next millennium: Joyce and Borges. The first designed with words what the second designed with ideas: the original, the one and only World Wide Web. The Real Thing. The rest will remain merely virtual”.