- Paperback: 121 pages
- Publisher: New Directions; First Edition edition (October 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811209059
- ISBN-13: 978-0811209052
- Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,127,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Seven Nights Paperback – October, 1984
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Top Customer Reviews
Each lecture can stand alone, but references to prior topics abound.
I first encountered "Seven Nights" some years ago. Having just read Dante's Inferno for the first time, I was having difficulty articulating the powerful impact that Dante's great work had made on me. In his first lecture, "The Divine Comedy", Borges provided the words.
He says, the Middle Ages "gave us, above all, the Divine Comedy, which we continue to read, and which continues to astonish us, which will last beyond our lives, far beyond our waking lives." He describes the joy of reading Dante's work as a narrative, ignoring - at least during the first reading - the extensively documented literary and historical criticism. "The Commedia is a book everyone ought to read. Not to do so is to deprive oneself of the greatest gift that literature can give us."
"Dreams are the genus; nightmares are the species. I will speak first of dreams, and then of nightmares." So begins lecture two. Borges takes us on a journey through history, literature, and poetry in search for understanding of that so common, but so unusual event, that we call dreams.
"A major event in the history of the West was the discovery of the East." And so begins lecture three on that great work that defines the mystery that is Arabia. "These tales have had a strange history. They were first told in India, then in Persia, then in Asia Minor, and finally were written down in Arabic and compiled in Cairo. They became The Book of a Thousand and One Nights."
Borges lectures travel an elliptical orbit around his topic, sometimes approaching directly, other times looking outward, away from his stated subject. In his lecture on poetry (number five) he comments on literature in general: "A bibliography is unimportant - after all, Shakespeare knew nothing of Shakespearean criticism. Why not study the texts directly? If you like the book, fine. If you don't, don't read it. The idea of compulsory reading is absurd. Literature is rich enough to offer you some other author worthy of your attention - or one today unworthy of your attention whom you will read tomorrow."
His other lectures, "Buddhism", "The Kabbalah", and "Blindness", are equally intriguing. In once more rereading "Seven Nights" I found myself again astounded by Borges, by his seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of literature, by his capability to forge unexpected connections, and by his provocative statements. He has obviously given considerable thought to his conclusions, although Borges is anything but dogmatic. I enjoy a quote from a concluding paragraph in NIghtmares. "We may draw two conclusions, at least tonight; later we can change our minds."
Whether you are familiar with Borges or not, I highly recommend "Seven Nights". Borges is simply without peer, and I do not expect to change my mind later.
In the lectures Borges discusses, in turn, Dante's "Divine Comedy," nightmares, the "Thousand and One Nights," Buddhism, poetry, the Kabbalah, and his own blindness. The book thus has a multicultural aspect that spans time and language. Along the way, Borges references many other writers: Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Nietzsche, Poe, and others.
The book, although rambling at times, is full of characteristically "Borgesian" gems. Consider, for example, the passages where he reflects on the translations of the word "nightmare" ("pesadilla" in Spanish) in various languages. I was also intrigued by his attempt to define magic. Particularly moving and thought-provoking are his thoughts on blindness. Borges suggests that, for him, blindness is no mere handicap, but rather "a way of life: one of the styles of living" that has actually brought to him "some gifts."
Borges is sometimes playful, often witty, and always learned. In the lecture on blindness, Borges notes, "I had always imagined Paradise as a kind of library." I, too, imagine my personal Paradise to contain a library--and among that library's contents would be the complete works of Borges.
reveiw but I fail here & there...
Seven Nights gives you a quick and unavoidably
engaging look into the some of Borges'
favorite themes and ideas.
The text is taken from lectures and has a
pleasant verbal style. Because of the format
used, (the lecture) this book is quite
different from any other Borges you may have
If you have read Borges and found his
novels a little dense you will find this
slim volume well leavened. If you have never
read his works then this is a great place to
Each chapter of Seven Nights explores a
different topic. Topics include: Date's Divine
Comedy, Buddhism, Nightmares, Blindness,
Poetry, The Thousand and One Nights, and
My favorite moment occurs in the in the
chapter on Poetry. Borges compares the words
for 'moon' in English, Spanish, Greek,
French, Portugese, and German for their
aesthetic effects and the degree to which
they fit with the the moon itself. He
concludes that the English 'moon' is best
because of the slowness & roundness of the
sound when spoken.
Seven Nights is melodious and occasionally
Most Recent Customer Reviews
But "Seven Nights" is no dry collection of stiff monologues.Read more