The Total Library
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The Total Library : Non-fiction, 1922-1986

By (author) Jorge Luis Borges , Edited by Eliot Weinberger , Translated by Esther Allen , Translated by Suzanne Levine

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Though best known in the English speaking world for his short fictions and poems, Borges is revered in Latin America equally as an immensely prolific and beguiling writer of non-fiction prose. In "The Total Library", more than 150 of Borges' most brilliant pieces are brought together for the first time in one volume - all in superb new translations. More than a hundred of the pieces have never previously been published in English. "The Total Library" presents Borges at once as a deceptively self-effacing guide to the universe and as the inventor of a universe that is an indispensible guide to Borges.

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  • Paperback | 576 pages
  • 122 x 196 x 24mm | 358.34g
  • 01 Dec 2007
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London
  • English
  • 0141183020
  • 9780141183022
  • 84,056

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Author Information

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) lived in Buenes Aires. His COLLECTED FICTIONS was published in Allen Lane in January 1999.

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Review text

'To ward off total despair, he resolved to think about the Universe - a general procedure among the unfortunate, and sometimes a balm.' These words appear in one of Borges' 'capsule biographies', in this case of Benedetto Croce, but he could easily have been writing about himself. As this fascinating anthology attests, Borges did 'think about the universe'. The essays, articles, reviews and lectures here - only a fraction of his entire output - discuss Zeno's paradox, the art of verbal insults, the nature of hell, Bette Davis, world languages, dubbing (he's against it), Dante, the different translations of Homer, Buddhism, a history of the tango, Shakespeare, the detective story and a great deal more. A glance at the useful index will tell you how much more. Borges has interesting opinions about everything and everyone, and reading this book is rather like listening to a very intelligent, erudite, amusing, but never patronizing companion. When he needed money, Borges began writing regular articles and reviews for El Hogar, the Argentinian equivalent of The Ladies' Home Journal, but he never talked down to his readership. He was excited by ideas, by literature, by film and he wanted to share that excitement with others. He has as much time for S S Van Dine, a writer of detective fiction, as for T S Eliot and Virginia Woolf. Borges was criticized for what was perceived as his political conservatism at the time of the military regime in Argentina. However, one has only to read his essay about Fascism and anti-semitism in his native Argentina and in Hitler's Germany to forgive him that lapse. Before he became famous in the West, Borges was so shy that on the rare occasions when he was asked to lecture, he would have someone else read the lecture, while he sat at the back of the stage. However, in the last 30 years of his life, when he became recognized as one the most remarkable fiction writers of the 20th century, Borges was invited all over the world and, shedding his shyness, he gave not lectures, but marvellous spontaneous monologues on all kinds of subjects. Some of these gems are included in this intelligent, humane and witty collection, lucidly translated by Allen, Levine and Weinberger. (Kirkus UK)

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