Luis Borges (1899-1986)
Works: "The Garden of Forking Paths"
Luis Borges (1899-1986). Argentine poet, essayist, short-story
writer, and philosopher.
born August 24 in Buenos Aires, Argentina to a wealthy family;
educated in both English and Spanish.
travels with his family to Europe; caught in outbreak of World
War I; settles in Switzerland where he finishes secondary
education and learns both French and German.
travels to Spain where he joins the Ultraist
literary group; publishes his first poem in magazine Grecia.
returns to Argentina and establishes his own group of Argentinean
to the publication of a magazine called Prisma which
is distributed by pasting it on walls and fences throughout
the city of Buenos Aires.
meets and becomes close friends with the philosopher Macedonio
meets Adolfo Bioy Casares; collaborates with Casares on various
literary works for the next four decades.
edits the literary supplement of the Buenos Aires newspaper,
named to the post of assistant librarian at a small library
in Buenos Aires.
Borges' father dies; Borges himself suffers a head injury
and related blood-poisoning infection which almost kills him.
having opposed the military dictatorship of Juan Perón
in his speeches and non-literary writings, Borges is removed
from his post as librarian and offered a job as a chicken
Peronist regime overthrown; Borges is made director of the
National Library in Buenos Aires, but his increasing blindness
cripples his ability to read and write.
accepts Chair of English and North American Literature at
the University of Buenos Aires.
shares the International Publishers' Formentor Prize ($10,000)
with Samuel Beckett.
tours Europe and England, lecturing on literary topics; travels
to Colombia and receives an honorary degree from the University
of Los Andes.
marries Elsa Astete de Millán; lectures at Harvard
as Charles Eliot Norton Professor for the 1967-68 academic
year (T. S. Eliot held this same post in 1932).
divorces Elsa; is almost completely blind at this point and
has to rely on dictation for his writing.
becomes an honorary member of both the American Academy and
the National Institute of Arts and Letters; awarded honorary
degrees by Columbia University and Oxford University.
Juan Perón returns to presidency in Argentina; Borges
retires from his position as director of the National Library.
travels extensively through Europe, Africa, and the Orient.
shares Spain's Cervantes Literary Prize with the Spanish poet
awarded the French Legion of Honor.
marries Maria Kodama, a photographer with whom Borges had
collaborated in 1984 on a collection of short texts and photographs
entitled Atlas; dies two months later in Geneva, Switzerland.
of Buenos Aires (Fervor de Buenos Aires) (1923), Borges's
first book of poetry.
(Inquisiciones) (1925), his first book of essays.
History of Infamy (Historia universal de la infamia) (1935),
his first attempt at prose fiction.
of Forking Paths (El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan)
(1941), collection of eight short stories dealing with the nature
of reality, time, philosophy, metaphysics, language, and literature.
(Ficciones) (1944), collection of short stories; considered
to be the principal work of Borges' fiction; composed of two sections,
the first is entitled The Garden of Forking Paths and was
originally published in 1941 as a collection of eight short stories;
the second section is entitled Artifices and contains nine
(El Aleph) (1949), Borges' second collection of short stories
continuing his exploration of themes of the universal, the mystical,
immortality, memory, enlightenment, and the idea of infinity.
(Otras inquisiciones) (1952), collection of Borges' essays dealing
with a variety of topics including mathematics, literature, metaphysics,
theology, language, and time.
(El Hacedor) (1960), collection of short prose and poetry considered
by Borges himself to be his best and most personal work.
(1962), his first book in English, including stories and other writings.
War I (1914-1918), European war between the Central Powers
(Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria) and the Allies
(Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, and the U.S.); waged
over nationalistic antagonisms as well as commercial and industrial
interests of growing capitalist powers; killed millions of people,
civilians and soldiers alike, and impoverished much of the world;
also considered to have shaken popular faith in progress and
H. Liddell Hart's History of World War I,
published in 1934; Hart was a famous military tactical and war
historian with a series of books on both world wars; referenced
by the narrator at the beginning of the short story "The
Garden of Forking Paths."
a literary movement founded in Spain in 1919 and composed of
young, experimental poets sharing the goals of completely breaking
with tradition and creating a "pure" sort of poetry;
upon his return from Spain in 1921, Jorge Luis Borges founded
an Argentine Ultraist movement modeled after the Spanish one;
the focus of his group was on experimental poetic forms; their
magazine, Prisma, was published in the form of posters
pasted on buildings and walls throughout Buenos Aires.
Group. Literary group, active in Buenos Aires in the 1920s,
that dedicated itself to the writing of highly politicized literature
for social change; Borges contributed to a review called Martin
Fierro which was apolitical and which stressed "art
for art's sake" (in contrast to the Boedo group's highly
Perón (1895-1974), colonel in the Argentinean army;
president of Argentina from 1946-55, and again from 1973-74;
dictator and founder of the Peronist movement which emphasized
industrialization and state-mediation of the economy; strongly
anti-American and anti-British, proposing instead what he called
the "Third Position," between communism and capitalism;
Perón curbed and in some cases completely removed constitutional
liberties to accomplish his goals.
Bioy Casares (1914-1999), Argentine editor and magic
realist writer, collaborated with Jorge Luis Borges on the
literary magazine Destiempo and other collections of
literature; author of the critically-acclaimed The Invention
of Morel (La Invención of Morel) (1940) --
a tale about a fugitive who falls in love with a woman who turns
out to be an image from a film projector.
Ocampo (1891-1979), Argentine writer, born in Buenos Aires;
educated in France; founded literary review Sur 1931
(in which some of Borges' essays from Other Inquisitions
first appeared); known as Argentina's "queen of letters";
Borges dedicated to her his short story "The Garden of
Fajardo-Acosta gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Matthew Peckham
in the creation of this page
2001-2003 by Fidel Fajardo-Acosta,
all rights reserved