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Borges: Selected Poems Paperback – April 1, 2000
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Whether he was writing fiction, essays, or poetry, there were certain themes and subjects that Borges returned to time and again. His home town became a favorite topic--in his first collection, Fervor de Buenos Aires, he wrote: "My soul is in the streets / of Buenos Aires," a sentiment that remained constant throughout his life. This collection reveals other preoccupations as well--with history in all its permutations, Borges's own ancestry, and his fascination with metaphysics, mazes, mirror images, and the blurry line between parallel realities:
The celibate white cat surveys himselfThis companion volume to Andrew Hurley's new translation of Collected Fictions boasts a stellar cast of translators, including W.S. Merwin, Mark Strand, and John Updike among others. Admirers of Borges will find Selected Poems a fitting memorial to the great man; and for those have never had the pleasure of reading him before, this book is a wonderful introduction. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
in the mirror's clear-eyed glass,
not suspecting that the whiteness facing him
and those gold eyes that he's not seen before
in ramblings through the house are his own likeness.
Who is to tell him the cat observing him
is only the mirror's way of dreaming?
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Consequently, he sounds good in translation. It's tough to make Neruda or Lorca or even a lot of novelists writing in Spanish sound clear and convincing in English. Lorca, for example, wrote in a distinctively Andalusian idiom, and nobody who has never read his poetry in the original can understand how stilted he sounds in English. Borges, by contrast, had a more universal intellect and the strands of his writing span many non-Hispanic cultures. His reading in many different literatures left a deep imprint on him linguistically and helps explain why his work translates so well into other languages. While it's true that much of his poetry has a distinctly Argentine "flavor", it has many other flavors, as well. Depending on the poem, Borges can evoke Quevedo, Leopoldo Lugones, "Beowulf", the Icelandic Prose Edda, Whitman, Omar Khayyam, or Ralph Waldo Emerson. And yet the English influence is present in virtually all of his work.
Thirteen translators are featured in this anthology and the quality varies. Barnstone and Merwin are, as usual, impeccably accurate and 1000% unadventurous. Robert Fitzgerald shows yet again that his last name must be some kind of cosmic byword for quality (F. Scott, Edward, Ella, now Robert...).Read more ›
what is here in english, taken on those terms alone, is till great. recurring themes of tigers, mirrors, his beloved hometown, the history of literature, the bible, memory, distortions in time & space, heaven and hell weave themselves through over six decades of dazzling images and heartbreaking tenderness.
it's also playful- filled with bits from imagined histories and books which i almost find myself wanting to locate, as these little bits are too beautiful to be unreal.
For this reason, I wanted to read his poetry, both in Spanish and English. He writes in a way that makes translating him into other languages easy, at least compared to most great Latin American writers.
I was pleased at first; the first few poems are grand, and their English translations are equally mesmerizing.
However, I quickly encountered a problem: Alastair Reed. You would think a man with a reputation as high as his would know better than to butcher great poetry, but that is exactly what he does. He is liberal in his translations to the point where it almost seems that he is not pleased with the original poetry and has to change it to fit his own ideas. His translations are inaccurate and, I believe, vain. He never changes the poetry for the better, and even if he did it would be beside the point.
Most of the other dozen or so translators are good at their interpretations and, if nothing else, stay true to the original. Alastair Reed is the exception and, unfortunately, his renderings take up most of the book.
Read Borges, and savor him, but, if you don't read Spanish, keep in mind that when you see "A.R." at the end of a poem, you are not reading Borges.
Perhaps it is because the language of poetry is more dense and ambiguous and breaks the flow of the story. Perhaps it is because on the nonetheless more extended palette of the story a more extensive picture can be painted. Perhaps it is because too the element of mystery so great in Borges work comes to us in a stronger way in a narrative telling? Or perhaps too Borges whether he likes it or not is in his lists and his recollections really more a figure of prose than of poetry. And perhaps and this the real paradox Borges poetry is too more prose- like than poetic in many ways. Perhaps his way of going on in such intellectual questioning fashion renders his poetry more mind- like and less in deep lyric feeling than the deepest poetry means?
I ask this as prelude to saying a few words about these poems most of which I have read, and few of which I remember.And this too is part of it. The Borges name is connected with those tales from The Aleph to Funes to Borges and I . It is less connected with any of the poems
And all of this review seems now to me somehow unfair. Borges is a great writer and his words mean more than anything written about them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
How tragic that I waited till my doddering old age to read Borges!
Of the many hundreds of volumes of poetry I've read through the course of a long life, this is one of... Read more
Best of Western literature. A master work from one of the best writters of the 20th CenturyPublished 13 months ago by silvia quadrelli
This book is a really nice compilation of Borges poems.
I would recommend this to a friend. Exceeded my expectations.
Love the book, but i wish the seller had stated that it had a dedication written on the first page. I would have liked to know that beforehand as i bought this for someone else.Published on November 3, 2013 by Lamski
Borges is naturally best known for his extraordinary short stories, but he regarded himself as a poet first. This volume shows you why. Read morePublished on May 24, 2011 by Steiner