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Selected Non-Fictions. Edited by Eliot Weinberger.

Borges, Jorge Luis.

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ISBN 10: 0670849472 / ISBN 13: 9780670849475
Published by Viking, New York, 1999
From Gregor Rare Books (Langley, WA, U.S.A.)

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A Fine tight copy in a Fine bright dust jacket. 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. The editor has selected 161 short pieces of non-fiction that Borges wrote during his early years up to his death, Two-thirds of the pieces have never appeared in English before and the rest have been newly translated for this edition. Bookseller Inventory # 25346

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Selected Non-Fictions. Edited by Eliot ...

Publisher: Viking, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Edition: First Printing of the First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

The third and final jewel in the crown of Viking's acclaimed three-volume centenary edition of Borges's collected works in English

Though best known in the United States for his short fictions and poems Jorge Luis Borges is just as revered in Latin America as an immensely prolific writer of nonfiction prose. Now, following on the success of the critically acclaimed Fictions, Viking's Selected Non-Fictions brings more than 150 of Borges's most brilliant writings together for the first time in one volume--all in superb new translations. More than a hundred of the pieces have never previously been translated into English.

Even Borges aficionados are sure to be amazed to discover the extent of the master's interests. Like the Aleph in his famous story--the magical point in a certain basement in Buenos Aires from which one can view everything in the world--Borges's unlimited curiosity and almost superhuman erudition become, in his nonfiction, a vortex for seemingly the entire universe. He was equally at home with Schopenhauer and Ellery Queen, King Kong and the Kabbalists, James Joyce or Alfred Hitchcock, Flaubert, the Buddha, and the Dionne Quints!

The first comprehensive selection of this work in any language, the Selected Non-Fictions presents Borges at once as a deceptively self-effacing guide to the universe and the inventor of a universe.

Review:

Jorge Luis Borges was our century's greatest miniaturist, perpetually cramming entire universes onto the head of a pin. Yet his splendid economy, along the wafer-thin proportions of such classic volumes as Ficciones and Labyrinths, has given readers the impression that Borges was miserly with his prose. In fact, he was something of a verbal spendthrift. His collected stories alone run to nearly 1,000 pages. And his nonfiction output was even more staggering: the young Borges cranked out hundreds of essays, book notes, cultural polemics, and movie reviews, and even after he lost his sight in 1955, he continued to dictate short pieces by the dozens. Eliot Weinberger has assembled just a fraction of this outpouring in Selected Non-Fictions, and the result is a 559-page Borgesian blowout, in which the Argentinean fabulist takes on being and nothingness, James Joyce and Lana Turner, and (surprisingly) racial hatred and the rise of Nazism. So much for our image of the mandarin bookworm! The very engagé author of this book seems more like a subequatorial Camus, with a dash of Siskel and Ebert on the side.

Selected Non-Fictions demonstrates just how quickly Borges began wrestling with such brainteasers as identity, time, and infinity. Indeed, the very first piece in the collection, "The Nothingness of Personality" (1922), already finds him fiddling with the self: "I, as I write this, am only a certainty that seeks out the words that are most apt to compel your attention. That proposition and a few muscular sensations, and the sight of the limpid branches that the trees place outside my window, constitute my current I." There are many such meditations here, including "A History of Eternity" (in which Borges maps out his own, disarmingly empty version of the eternal, "without a God or even a co-proprietor, and entirely devoid of archetypes"). But it's more fun--and more revelatory--to see the author venturing beyond his metaphysical stomping grounds. Borges on King Kong is a hoot, and a cornball masterpiece such as The Petrified Forest elicits this terrific nugget: "Death works in this film like hypnosis or alcohol: it brings the recesses of the soul into the light of day." His capsule biographies are a delight, his critiques of Nazi propaganda are memorably stringent, and nobody should miss him on the tango. True, the sheer variety and mind-boggling erudition of Selected Non-Fictions can be a little forbidding. But, taken as a whole, the collection surely meets the specifications that Borges laid out in a 1927 essay on literary pleasure: "If only some eternal book existed, primed for our enjoyment and whims, no less inventive in the populous morning as in the secluded night, oriented toward all hours of the world." Oh, but it does. --James Marcus

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