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On Mysticism

Jorge Luis Borges

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To purchase On Mysticism

Title: On Mysticism
Author: Jorge Luis Borges
Genre: various
Written: (Eng. 2010)
Length: 116 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: On Mysticism - US
On Mysticism - UK
On Mysticism - Canada
  • These pieces were originally published between 1923 and 1988
  • These pieces were translated by a variety of translators
  • Edited and with an Introduction by Maria Kodama

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Our Assessment:

A- : great pieces, but the major ones are all very familiar

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:
  • "(A) hobby-horsical reshuffle like On Mysticism, which gathers already available texts under the title theme." - 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 Mysticism offers a selection of Borges' mystic-themed pieces, a nice mix of stories, poems, and non-fiction. Predictably, however, much is familiar, with stories taken from Ficciones and The Aleph (and, indeed, all the stories also available in the Collected Fictions), the Selected Poems, and the Selected Non-Fictions. (There are also a lot of translators at work here -- seven, for just nineteen pieces .....)
       The mystic focus may justify this particular arrangement of these classic but so familiar works -- 'The Circular Ruins', 'The Library of Babel', 'The Aleph', 'A New Refutation of Time' among them --, and there is something to be said for the mix of fiction, non, and poetry; it certainly makes for an enjoyable, nicely varied read. (Borges, notorious and famous as a re-reader may well have approved, too.)
       The few new pieces -- all essays (on Santayana, Schopenhauer, Giovanni Papini, and Berkeley), plus the brief Q & A 'Do you believe in God ?' --, are certainly welcome, but seem also just a tantalizing glimpse of riches still unavailable. Worst is how 'Berkeley's Crossroads' is presented, Borges explicitly noting that this essay is a follow-up to a previous one, 'The Nothingness of Personality', with a similar line of reasoning. That previous essay is described as a: "tortuous text, excessively literary", and maybe it wasn't included for that reason -- yet given how slim this volume is (barely over a hundred pages), any Borges-fan would surely have appreciated its inclusion.
       On Mysticism is a fine collection of some of Borges' best work, providing a decent overview of his mystical and metaphysical interests and preoccupations. But almost all of this is familiar, and there's much else (previously translated and not) that could have been included, so it's not quite as satisfying as it might have been.

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 June 2010

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On Mysticism: 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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