Posts Tagged ‘Borges’

Dancing on the Sand

Sunday, 29 June 2008

I have been reading Collected Fictions, an anthology of the prose fiction of Jorge Luis Borges.

The translator, Andrew Hurley, has increasingly struck me as a pirouetting fool, and this after-noon I encountered what may be the definitive illustration of this foolishness.

The first paragraph of Night of the Gifts places an event of Borges's life near the intersection of Calle Florida and Piedad. Hurley presents us with the datum that Piedad's name was changed to Bartolomé Mitre in 1906, and Hurley proposes to date the story accordingly, taking a swipe at Borges for pretending that he might have participated meaningfully in a discussion of Platonic ideals at or before the age of seven.

Well, the second paragraph describes a character as elderly, and in the third paragraph that character says that in the summer of 1874 he was about to turn 13. At the time that Piedad's name was changed, that character would have been about 45. It's rather unlikely that Borges would call such man elderly (especially as Borges himself would probably have been in his seventies when he wrote the story).

In other works, Borges or his characters often use older names for places. Here, forgetful, defiant, or indifferent, he uses the older name for a street, in spite of the declarations of city officials. Woo hoo.

Oh, the Humanities

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

This morning, I started reading A Drawing Manual by Thomas Eakins. As is my bad habit, I first read the prefacing and introductory pieces by others, one of which was Thomas Eakins: Last of the Art Crusaders by Amy B. Warbel.

It positions Eakins as a creature and champion of the Art Crusade — an attempt to promote American, republican values and virtues by the wide-spread teaching of art (not merely art appreciation), especially drawing. The essay proceeds well enough for most of its length, but, as it approaches its end, rather abruptly seems to argue not merely that Eakins was out-of-step with fashion, but that he was somehow active in a movement that had itself ended. She quotes with apparent approval a passage from another author which asserts that the Art Crusade died with Rembrandt Peale (1860). Eakins was graduated from High School in the next year, and didn't begin teaching until 1870 or '71. This time-frame wouldn't make Eakins the last Art Crusader, but instead a failed revivalist, and certainly not the last such.

In the after-noon, I received a copy of the Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges. I began reading that in the evening; and, in Max Eastman, Purveyor of Iniquities, found this excellent sentence

At the first light of dawn, the battle died away, as though it were spectral, or obscene.
But I'm sorry to report that, in a foot-note concerning The Uncivil Teacher of Court Etiquette Kôtsuké no Suké, the translator (or some wicked transcriber) has written Chinese for Japanese.

As I waited for a walk light to-night, on the way home from David's Coffee Place, some fellow asked me if I'd like to go somewhere for drinks. The Woman of Interest claims that this is an improvement upon being mistaken for a prostitute, which happened to me a few years ago. I figure that, this time, the poor guy just couldn't control himself because I was wearing my Wellington boots, and have let my sideburns grow for almost three weeks. (Hugh Jackman has nothin' on me.)