Ronald Wise's Reviews > Collected Fictions

Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
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's review
Jul 23, 2011

really liked it
Read from December 13 to 28, 2010 , read count: 1

This is an enjoyable introduction to the fiction of the man many consider to be the greatest Spanish-language writer of the 20th century. It contains the short stories originally printed in his collections from the 1935 through the early 1980s. Many of his stories are fictional confabulations of news, historical, or mythological items, such that the transition into his imagination is difficult to discern. Borges inserts himself into some of his tales and begins many of them as though relaying a story of which he is uncertain of his recollection - both techniques lending to the illusion of a storyteller whose tales should be taken with a grain of salt.

I was surprised by the variety of topics in these stories. Expecting to learn much about life in Argentina, I soon discovered that Borges had an interest in a variety of areas that spanned the millennia and world, and employed many of those varied topics for his stories. His handling of North American topics at times reminded me of Mark Twain and the humor popular in the U.S. in the late 19th century. As for Argentina, I learned that the population mix there may be as interesting as in the United States, thanks to the significant immigration to both destinations.

The reading was dense at times and I sometimes marvelled at the precision with which his words were used, but then had to wonder if that was not the skill of the translator instead of the author's. The translator's notes at the end of the book cast some light on that question. While reading all his short fictions as a single collection may have diminished my appreciation of them, I look forward to reading more by Jorge Luis Borges.

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