Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges

A billion and one writers claim Borges as a great influence on them. So, finally I've read his short stories. I'm not sure I've got a great translation, but I think it'll do. I expect this book suffers from the Blade Runner effect - it's terribly original and influential, but as I've seen so much derived from it, its originality is not obvious to me.

The various stories are rather good, and demonstrate how a story can be presented, with blurring of fact and fiction and different ways of framing the story (if you can't be bothered to write a book in full - provide a book review of the book you would have written!). All nice and clever.

It's also apparently heavy on the references, subtle jokes, and general textural cleverness. Except I'm going to miss all the cultural references, and the ones I might have got are, well, not helped by translation. One fictional book would have been translated as something like "Hahahahaha pffft" in English, but - well - it wasn't translated.

All the accompanying forewords and afterwords and the rest of it talk about Borges's terse, economical style or whatever, but it still reads to me as if it's full of heavy, long sentences, full of hard work. Reminiscent of Umberto Eco, perhaps, although I'm not sure why. Am I just a literary lightweight, or is this an effect of either the original language, or the translation process?

I'm sure there's a lot to it. However, for me, there are some fun ideas and quite a lot of impenetrability.

Posted 2014-12-25.