Murder and mind games: The Cambridge Companion to Jorge Luis Borges

A new companion to the work of the great fabulist conveys the richness and depth of his writing

Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 01:00


Book Title:
The Cambridge Companion to Jorge Luis Borgess


Edwin Williamson

Cambridge University Press

Guideline Price:

Borges himself was often depicted as standing aloof from social and economic realities. Borges’s controversial interventions in public debates in the late 1970s and early 1980s did not help endear him to liberal or left-oriented critics and commentators, especially when he appeared to approve of the military juntas that had seized power in South American countries in that period, including the repressive regime of the venal Gen Pinochet in Chile.

Humanist approach

But if we attend to what his artistic works convey, rather than his poorly thought-out political pronouncements, we see a fundamentally humanist approach to such issues, and can detect an acute anxiety about the dangers of totalitarianism. He was an ardent opponent of Peronism, and suspicious of the populism associated with it, tinged as it was with anti-Semitism and pro-Axis sentiments. He had little time for Argentineans who expressed support for the Hitler regime, and to it he opposed a genuine admiration for Germany and German culture, of which he had a profound knowledge.

The breadth of the current Companion is wide, and it contains essays that address postcolonial, Jewish and Islamic themes in Borges’s work, as well as examining particular volumes of his poetry and short stories, and even certain intriguing Irish connections. Some of the most prominent experts on the writer contribute to the book, and although they take divergent approaches and offer varying interpretations, they convey, in mostly jargon-free language, the richness and depth of Borges’s writings.

As a result, this volume serves as an intelligent and stimulating guide to the work of one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.

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