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Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  264 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In English at last, Borges’s erudite and entertaining lectures on English literature from Beowulf to Oscar Wilde

Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges: “A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature. Starting with the Vikings’ kennings and Beowulf and endi
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published May 23rd 2013 by New Directions (first published 2000)
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Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I judge this work not as a scholarly treatise on English literature. Consider how it was put together: One or more students at the University of Buenos Aires taped the entire series of 25 lectures in 1966 and then transcribed the result for use as notes. The tapes themselves are now missing and were probably re-used, according to the editors, for other classes.

This was not intended to be a detailed survey of English literature: Jorge Luis Borges devotes seven lectures to Anglo-Saxon literature,
Douglas Dalrymple
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Available for the first time in English translation, Professor Borges collects a term's worth of lectures delivered by Jorge Luis Borges in 1966 on the history of English literature. It’s a remarkable book, I think, for two quite different reasons.

It's remarkable first of all in offering a survey of its subject that will be almost unrecognizable to most students of English literature. Fully a quarter of the course is spent on the Anglo-Saxon era of Beowulf and Co. Almost no mention at all is mad
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este libro compila las clases que dio Borges en la UBA sobre literatura inglesa. Son, básicamente, las desgrabaciones, con abundantes notas complementarias. Una joya. Borges, en vez de tratar de cubrir todas las tendencias y los autores, se concentra en sus favoritos, en los que mejor conoce, en los autores (y en los textos específicos) que lo apasionan, o sea: literatura anglosajona medieval, Browning, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Stevenson, Blake. Todo es fascinante (nunca entendí esa fama de compli ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lectures, spanish
A Borges bootleg! Transcripts of recordings of a few lectures on English literature Borges gave in the 1960s in Buenos Aires, before he was internationally famous, which is why the recordings of these lectures don't exist anymore.

Interestingly, it's very conversational in tone, there's very little university related talking going on (of course, there is a possibility that the editors cut this) - Borges talks only once about tests, never again about anything but Anglo-Saxon/English literature; he
Michael Hingston
"Borges is happy to follow his nose, canon be damned. Who else would give 19th-century poet and textile designer William Morris (three full lectures) more space than Chaucer, Milton and Shakespeare (zero, zero and zero, respectively) combined?"

I got to review this for the Globe and Mail a couple weeks back. Read the whole thing here:
Coleridge 1/ conferenze Le conversazioni di Coleridge erano molto curiose. Dice De Quincey, che fu suo discepolo e grande ammiratore, che ogni volta che Coleridge conversava era come se tracciasse un circolo nell'aria. Ovvero, si allontanava dal tema iniziale e poi vi ritornava, ma molto lentamente. La conversazione di Coleridge poteva durare due o tre ore. Alla fine si scopriva che, descrivendo un circolo, era tornato al punto di partenza. Ma generalmente gli interlocutori se n'erano già andati ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peccato non aver ascoltato quelle lezioni di persona: si vede la passione di Borges per la letturatura, il suo sconfinato amore per le lettere e la sua incredibile erudizione al servizio dell'insegnamento.
Bill Bangham
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Worth the read for insights into the workings of a great mind. Beyond that, a delight for anyone enamored with English literature and writing in general.
Robert Giambo
Oct 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
Lectures from the 60's by Borges based on student transcripts, the topics covered by the lectures are quite quirky. An okay book. Read Borges short stories - those are five stars.
Frederick Gault
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Unlike any English class I've ever taken! The depth of Borghes' knowledge is incredible, his interests all over the place and his love of the music in English poetry and prose was profound.
Zachary Littrell
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We should all be lucky enough to be loved by someone -- as much as that old, blind Argentinian loved English literature. I feel pretty darn jealous of Borges's students at the University of Buenos Aires (while also feeling a little bit of pity for them, too), because he was clearly a wonderful, enthusiastic, funny, and frustrating professor.

It sure doesn't resemble any literature survey I've sat through, and that's probably for the best. Borges gleefully chucks canon to curb and walks his class
John Pistelli
This recent volume (published by New Directions, translated by Katherine Silver, and edited and annotated by Martín Hadis and Martín Arias) is derived from student recordings and transcriptions of a lecture course on the history of English literature that Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires (where he had been hired on the strength of his literary reputation, despite not having an advanced degree, about a decade earlier). Irrespective of the Borgesian contents, it is a good book ...more
J Murnaghan
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb. Chronicles his personal enthusiasms.
Aaron Arnold
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you're a fan of literature, meaning that you get pleasure out of not only reading but also thinking over and talking about books, then this is a must-read simply because it's one of the greatest writers of all time talking about some of the other greatest writers of all time with his customary immense insight and analytical ability. Idiosyncratically composed, far-ranging in scope, and unbelievably erudite, this collection is all the more amazing because it was compiled from a series of lectu ...more
Sean Carman
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This recently translated collection of lectures on the history of English Literature that Borges gave at the University of Buenos Aires in the 1960s is a really fun read. It's basically a brief survey of English literature, from Beowulf to J.D. Salinger. Each lecture touches briefly on its subjects, and provides a few key insights into the works in question. Borges speaks in a grandfatherly tone. The book is fun to read both for the fantasy it offers (sitting at Borges' feet, listening to his wo ...more
João Camilo
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
Borges said once that poetry remembers to have been music before. Remembering is what Art does with us. In this case, Borges classes - just like his speeches - remember to be one day literary essays.
Close eyes and listen, not to a typical class of literature, with list of readings and discussion about styles or technique, you are in a class of literature where you remember the emotion of reading.
Borges with his fantastic memory - fantastic because it is impressive and because he will fill the
Seth Kanor
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A series of lectures transcribed from a course Borges taught on English literature, this book is like a modern day Rosetta Stone: seeming to unlock lost languages and shedding light on poets I'd forgotten, or didn't yet know I was in love with. Whether he is taking a well known passage from a poem like Blake's 'Tyger,' uncovering the mysteries of Anglo-Saxon elegies, or delving into the tumultuous personal life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Borges seems to have a singular ability to hopscotch betwe ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Interesting - he skips from Old-English/Anglo-Saxon literature to about 500 years later. Hardly touches on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and never mentions Keats; rather, his emphasis is on the writers that seemed to be of most interest to himself as a short-story writer and poet - writers' visions and the musicality of their prose or verse. Of primary interest to me was his points on Anglo-Saxon meter, the birth of Romanticism (with Macpherson), and his insights into Coleridge and Robert Louis ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He buscado este libro durante muchisimo tiempo y debo decir que no me ha decepcionado en absoluto. En él he encontrado, como siempre, la profunda erudición de Borges expresada de forma elegante y sencilla, esa misma erudición que me hizo descubrir y amar a tantos autores en mi adolescencia y juventud. Haberle tenido como profesor debe haber sido un auténtico privilegio. Un recorrido por la literatura inglesa desde el Old English hasta principios del siglo XX, deteniéndose en autores tn diversos ...more
Cooper Renner
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the grand scheme of things, maybe this isn't a 5-star book, but it's quite entertaining, quite enjoyable to read Borges's angle on English Literature--the authors he admires, why he admires them, etc. It's quite idiosyncratic. If you've read some of his essays or the Spanish Introduccion a la literatura inglesa, some of what he says will seem familiar. But it's still fun.
Pedro Gomes
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A marvellous read, obligatory for anyone interested in learning. Whether the subject is Borges or not, it's up to you. All I know is that I'm getting a physical copy of this as soon as I can, so a second reading can be done.
May Ryan
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Almost like sitting in on his lectures. Made me miss the university classroom.
Sara Kim
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Curso de Literatura Inglesa do Jorge Luis Borges. Vale muito ler. O cara era demais.
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EXCELENTE!!! Nuestra unica oportunidad de poder aprender y disfrutar con las clases de ese erudito de la literatura inglesa!!! Gracias a los compiladores por todo el esfuerzo!
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Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo, usually referred to as Jorge Luis Borges (Spanish pronunciation: [xoɾxe lwis boɾxes]), was an Argentine writer and poet born in Buenos Aires. In 1914, his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school and traveled to Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in Surrealist literary journals. He also wo ...more
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