Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta's

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Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Biographical Information

Main Works

Featured Works: "The Garden of Forking Paths"


Selected Quotations


Biographical Information

  • Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Argentine poet, essayist, short-story writer, and philosopher.

  • 1899, born August 24 in Buenos Aires, Argentina to a wealthy family; educated in both English and Spanish.

  • 1914, 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.

  • 1919, travels to Spain where he joins the Ultraist literary group; publishes his first poem in magazine Grecia.

  • 1921, returns to Argentina and establishes his own group of Argentinean Ultraists; contributes to the publication of a magazine called Prisma which is distributed by pasting it on walls and fences throughout the city of Buenos Aires.

  • 1923, meets and becomes close friends with the philosopher Macedonio Fernandez.

  • 1931, meets Adolfo Bioy Casares; collaborates with Casares on various literary works for the next four decades.

  • 1933, edits the literary supplement of the Buenos Aires newspaper, Crítica.

  • 1937, named to the post of assistant librarian at a small library in Buenos Aires.

  • 1938, Borges' father dies; Borges himself suffers a head injury and related blood-poisoning infection which almost kills him.

  • 1946, 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 inspector.

  • 1955, 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.

  • 1956, accepts Chair of English and North American Literature at the University of Buenos Aires.

  • 1961, shares the International Publishers' Formentor Prize ($10,000) with Samuel Beckett.

  • 1963, tours Europe and England, lecturing on literary topics; travels to Colombia and receives an honorary degree from the University of Los Andes.

  • 1967, 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).

  • 1970, divorces Elsa; is almost completely blind at this point and has to rely on dictation for his writing.

  • 1971, 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.

  • 1973, Juan Perón returns to presidency in Argentina; Borges retires from his position as director of the National Library.

  • 1978, travels extensively through Europe, Africa, and the Orient.

  • 1980, shares Spain's Cervantes Literary Prize with the Spanish poet Gerardo Diego.

  • 1983, awarded the French Legion of Honor.

  • 1986, 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.

Main Works

The Fervor of Buenos Aires (Fervor de Buenos Aires) (1923), Borges's first book of poetry.

Inquisitions (Inquisiciones) (1925), his first book of essays.

Universal History of Infamy (Historia universal de la infamia) (1935), his first attempt at prose fiction.

The Garden 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.

Fictions (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 additional works.

The Aleph (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.

Other Inquisitions (Otras inquisiciones) (1952), collection of Borges' essays dealing with a variety of topics including mathematics, literature, metaphysics, theology, language, and time.

Dreamtigers (El Hacedor) (1960), collection of short prose and poetry considered by Borges himself to be his best and most personal work.

Labyrinths (1962), his first book in English, including stories and other writings.


  • World 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 scientific optimism.

  • B. 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."

  • Ultraism, 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.

  • Boedo 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 politicized writings).

  • Juan 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.

  • Adolfo 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.

  • Victoria 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 Forking Paths."

Selected Quotations

  • to come



Dr. Fajardo-Acosta gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Matthew Peckham in the creation of this page


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Last updated: 10/11/2003


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