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On Argentina

Jorge Luis Borges

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To purchase On Argentina

Title: On Argentina
Author: Jorge Luis Borges
Genre: various
Written: (Eng. 2010)
Length: 163 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: On Argentina - US
On Argentina - UK
On Argentina - Canada
  • These pieces were originally published between 1921 and 1951
  • These pieces were translated by a variety of translators
  • Edited and with an Introduction and Notes by Alfred Mac Adam
  • Includes a Glossary

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Our Assessment:

B+ : interesting collection, a welcome addition to what's available of Borges' work in English

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
TLS . 21/1/2011 Martin Schifino
Wall St. Journal . 20/10/2010 Alexandra Cheney

  From the Reviews:
  • "Its editor, Alfred MacAdam, has created a coherent collage of known and unknown pieces, and written a thought-provoking, informative introduction. (...) Yet many will be alien to foreign readers, and Borges, writing for a contemporary local audience, took a great deal for granted. The first hurdles are contextual. If one needs a note explaining what kind of book Martín Fierro is, Borges’s views on it will be of little interest. But no amount of annotation will account for the web of allusions and ironic references that was his signature style. As unfashionable as it may sound to say so, one can go only so far without Spanish." - Martin Schifino, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       On Argentina collects much Borges' Argentina-themed writing. It consists mainly of non-fiction pieces, but also includes three poems and two works of fiction. Unlike the companion volumes, On Mysticism and On Writing, the bulk of the material collected here is actually new-to-English. Yes, six of the non-fiction pieces appeared in the Selected Non-Fictions, but a whopping sixteen didn't ..... (There are still, however, a surfeit of translators at work here: six.)
       As Alfred Mac Adam notes, the earliest essays are: "from books Borges actually destroyed whenever possible", and it is these that are among the most interesting, both for the different style of his writing and for revealing sides of him with which readers may not be so familiar. Oddities like his take-down of Leopoldo Lugones, in a review of Romancero (where Borges finds Lugones: "has expressed his nothingness. How shameful for his admirers, what a humiliation !"), are particularly welcome.
       With a variety of takes on Argentina, and repeated considerations of everything from the arrabal (lower-class neighborhoods), the gaucho, the tango, and Argentine writing this collection makes for an appealing national-overview from a Borgesian perspective (limited but nevertheless interesting). Borges-on-Argentina -- what interests him, where he's coming from -- is already largely familiar, but the additional pieces add depth and layers to our understanding of his understanding, and while these aren't the pieces Borges is best-known for (nor are they, especially the previously untranslated ones, among his best), the amount of new material makes this a very welcome collection.
       The fact that this is still a sampler-collection -- each section includes essays "from" one of Borges' published books, not the entire book ... -- leaves one with a painful twinge of regret, but at least there is enough that is new here to truly justify the collection (unlike in the cases of On Mysticism and On Writing which, though they contain the superior pieces, are almost entirely familiar).

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 June 2010

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On Argentina: Jorge Luis Borges: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       The great Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) was awarded the 1961 Prix Formentor, as well as the Jerusalem Prize. A talented poet and essayist he is best known for his short fiction.

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