Jorge Luis Borges went from being an unknown middle-aged librarian to one of the 20th century’s most influential writers. So why do so few people read him now?
The above are the teaser lines from Allen Barra’s review (you either have to subscribe or click through an ad) of the new Borges biography.
No one reads Borges?
Forgive me for my provincialism, but I had no idea. I guess the fact that a new biography of the man has been met with an enormous critical response (not to mention decent sales) only bolsters the case that no one reads Borges anymore. And what about those new, complete editions of all his works that came out from Viking in 1998? No, only ignored authors get 500 page translations of their complete works by a major American publisher.
To Barra’s credit, though, he doesn’t really discuss the fact that no one reads Borges. No, oddly enough his book review sticks to the book. I can’t find mention of Borges dwindling reputation anywhere.
Perhaps the folks at Salon decided the piece needed a little sexing up. Or perhaps they thought it would be eminently Borgesian to throw a little, subtle piece of misinformation into the review. Or maybe Borges really was right about imaginary universes quietly invading our own in insidious ways.
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