Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (August 24, 1899 – June 14, 1986), known as Jorge Luis Borges (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxorxe ˈlwis ˈβorxes]), was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school and traveled to Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in surrealist literary journals. He also worked as a librarian and public lecturer. In 1955 he was appointed director of the National Public Library (Biblioteca Nacional) and professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1961 he came to international attention when he received the first International Publishers’ Prize, the Prix Formentor. In 1971 he won the Jerusalem Prize. His work was translated and published widely in the United States and in Europe. Borges himself was fluent in several languages. He died in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986.
|112th Birthday Of Jorge Luis Borges
His work embraces the “character of unreality in all literature.”His most famous books, Ficciones (1944) and The Aleph (1949), are compilations of short stories interconnected by common themes such as dreams, labyrinths, libraries, animals, fictional writers, religion and God. His works have contributed to the genre of science fiction as well as the genre of magical realism, a genre that reacted against the realism/naturalism of the nineteenth century. In fact, critic Angel Flores, the first to use the term, set the beginning of this movement with Borges’s Historia universal de la infamia (1935). Scholars also have suggested that Borges’s progressive blindness helped him to create innovative literary symbols through imagination. His late poems dialogue with such cultural figures as Spinoza, Camões, and Virgil.
His international fame was consolidated in the 1960s, aided by the “Latin American Boom” and the success of Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude). Writer and essayist J. M. Coetzee said of him: “He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists.”
Jorge Luis Borges was born in an educated middle-class family in August 1899. They were in comfortable circumstances, but not wealthy enough to live in downtown Buenos Aires. They resided in Palermo, then a poorer suburb of the city. Borges’s mother, Leonor Acevedo Suárez, came from a traditional Uruguayan
family of “pure” criollo
(Spanish) descent. Her family had been much involved in the European settling of South America and she spoke often of their heroic actions.
Borges’s 1929 book Cuaderno San Martín
includes the poem “Isidoro Acevedo,” commemorating his grandfather, Isidoro de Acevedo Laprida, a soldier of the Buenos Aires
A descendant of the Argentine lawyer and politician Francisco Narciso de Laprida
, Acevedo fought in the battles of Cepeda
in 1859, Pavón
in 1861, and Los Corrales
in 1880. Isidoro de Acevedo Laprida died of pulmonary congestion in the house where his grandson Jorge Luis Borges was born. Borges grew up hearing about the faded family glory. On the other side, Borges’s father, Jorge Guillermo Borges Haslam, was part Spanish, part Portuguese, and half English, also the son of a colonel. Borges Haslam, whose mother was English, grew up speaking English at home, and took his own family frequently to Europe. England and English pervaded the family home.
At nine, Jorge Luis Borges translated The Happy Prince
by Oscar Wilde
into Spanish. It was published in a local journal, but his friends thought the real author was his father.
Borges Haslam was a lawyer and psychology teacher who harboured literary aspirations. Borges said his father “tried to become a writer and failed in the attempt.” He wrote, “as most of my people had been soldiers and I knew I would never be, I felt ashamed, quite early, to be a bookish kind of person and not a man of action.”
Borges was taught at home until the age of 11, bilingual, reading Shakespeare
in English at the age of twelve.
The family lived in a large house with an English library of over one thousand volumes; Borges would later remark that “if I were asked to name the chief event in my life, I should say my father’s library.”
His father gave up practicing law due to the failing eyesight that would eventually afflict his son. In 1914, the family moved to Geneva
, Switzerland, and spent the next decade in Europe.
Borges Haslam was treated by a Geneva eye specialist, while his son and daughter Norah
attended school, where Borges junior learned French. He read Carlyle
in English, and began to read philosophy in German. In 1917, when he was 18, he met Maurice Abramowicz and began a literary friendship that would last the rest of his life.