Jorge Luis Borges (dt., eng.) was an educated homme des lettres and intellectual, writer, professor for English literature and director of the Argentinian National Library. Eco pays a tribute to him in “The Name of the Rose” with the figure of the blind guardian of the library, Jorge de Burgos. If you want to have a deeper insight in his works and life a visit to the Borges Center may be helpful.
Borges played. He opened his writings to the irreal, gave room for the phantastic. He used citations a lot and referred to sometimes a little remote and not so common writers and writings – and slipped in inventions of his own genius. A book lover and collector he described in a lecture from 1978 the feeling of happiness the sole presence of the books in his house evoked – the presence of an encyclopedia he only can touch and feel, but to know that they are there, there are maps and etchings, gravures and decorated initials, makes him happy. He keeps on on buying books, bringing them in his house, as if he still could read. He became blind finally around 1950.
Das Phantastische (I can not translate this) reaches into the world, shows up – naturally – in books, best seen in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” where a slightly altered copy of a cheap encyclopedia is at the beginning of the story. It is first published in his 1944 book “Ficciones“, which also contains “The Lottery in Babylon“.
I have no idea whether this linked translation is “good”, elegant or concise. I hope it is. The picture Borges paints of our life makes me shiver, no security, certainity, a lottery – “as Babylon is nothing but an infinite game of chance” – weil Babylon nichts anderes ist als ein unendliches Spiel von Zufällen. What makes people act depends on random factors, circumstances beyond their influence, a lottery number, a lot.


6 thoughts on “Lot

  1. Not my best post, I had a lot more in mind, but written down or formulated it sounded mostly trite. And it is as so often a question of translation: The German texts I read are very well done and have a high niveau, the translator is Gisbert Haefs who also wrote some crime novels. There is a difference in “Zufall” und “chance”. That is one of the situations when I regret not speaking Spanish, because I am sure that Borges has a lot of references or hints in his words – the other person I would very much like to read in original is Ortega y Gasset.The “Ficciones” / “Fictions” should be translated and available. Borges was applauded or condemned, not much in between. I always return to his writings, strangely.CheesemeisterMaybe you like the reading.OutsiderI was once hit by a rack of books. My appartement was very small.AmandaIt is good to see you back.Und Maths ist ein Lügner … 🙂

  2. one of the great things about moving house is re-discovering books you’d forgotten you had, sugar..and yes, he was there! all the books are in one room now almost floor to ceiling on shelves. nothing will ever replace the printed page and the feeling of turning that page. xoxoxo

  3. I read about half of “The Lottery”. I stopped when it became uncomfortably close to the stock market. 🙂yes, there is comfort in being surrounded by the wisdom of books. I find the limitation is in my understanding, though.

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