10.2.08

Borges as a boy

"My father showed me his library, which seemed to me infinite, and he told me to read whatever I wanted, but that if something bored me I should put it down immediately, that is, the opposite of obligatory reading. Reading has to be a happiness, and philosophy gives us happiness, and that is the contemplation of a problem. Quincy said that discovering the problem is no less important than discovering a solution, and I don’t know if any solutions have been discovered, but many problems have been discovered. The world continues to be more enigmatic, more interesting, more enchanting."



"I said a moment ago that I’ve dedicated my life to reading and writing. For me they are two equally pleasurable activities. When writers talk about the torture of writing, I don’t understand it; for me writing is a necessity. If I were Robinson Crusoe I would write on my desert island. When I was young I thought about what I considered the heroic life of my military elders, a life that had been rich, and mine… The life of a reader, sometimes rashly, seemed to me a poor life. Now I don’t believe that; the life of a reader can be as rich as any other life. Suppose Alonso Quijano had never left his library, or bookstore, as Cervantes called it, I believe that his life reading would have been as rich as when he conceived the project of turning himself into Quixote. For him the latter life was more real, for me reading about him has been one of the most vivid experiences of my life.

And now that I have committed the indecency of turning eighty-five, I confirm without melancholy that my memory is full of verses and full of books, and I can’t see past the year 1955—I lost my reader’s vision—but if I think about my past life, I think of course about friends, loves also, but I think most of all about books."


This interview with the great Jorges Luis Borges has recently been translated into English for the first time. It appears in Habitus: A Diaspora Journal (Thanks to Maud Newton for the link)

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