Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges is anything but easy to accept, absorb, comprehend, and emotionally embrace. It's not that his poems, short stories, and essays are all hard to read, for some of them have the lucidity and pure tone of a crystal form seen and struck. Others are admittedly trying, especially for those not cognizant of Argentinian history, versed in Anglo-Saxon, comfortable with Bishop Berkeley—to name but a few areas in which he has delved. There is obviously a formidable aspect to Borges. It might not be called a problem, for Borges wrote, "The word problem may be an insidious petitio principii. To speak of the Jewish problem is to postulate that the Jews are a problem; it is to predict (and recommend) persecution, plunder, shooting, beheading, rape. . . Another disadvantage of fallacious problems is that they bring about solutions that are equally fallacious." Since he is demanding, there is a tendency for some of those who approach his work to treat it as a problem, to be unnecessarily cryptic and vague about it, as if incomprehensibility is an ideal. This has proven to be a particular thicket. As Norman Thomas di Giovanni, a close collaborator of Borges's and a translator of many of his works, observed, "a lot of the early translators were intimidated by Borges's reputation for being deep. They equated being deep with being obscure, and they also associated Borges with...

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