Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sonnets by Borges

Here's a pleasant surprise: a dual-languages facing-pages edition of the sonnets of Jorge Luis Borges, lately out from Penguin under the editorship of Stephen Kessler, who says he offers a a view of the writer "quite a different from the ones we thought we knew." That would be me, your honor; but perfectly open to "a portable form" in which "Borges distills all the obsessive themes that pervade his other writings--the mirror, the labyrinth, the garden, the dream, the soldier, the hoodlum, history, oblivion, memory, ancestors, time, eternity, literary and philosophical forebears--into the gemlike form of fourteen tightly rhymed lines." I haven't begun to assimilate all this richness yet, but I do savor a couple of highly Borgesian lines form an item called "Sueña Alonso Quijano," "Alonso Quijano Dreams":
El hidalgo fue un sueño de Cervantes
y don Quijote un sueño del hidalgo.
El doble sueño los confunde ...

The country square was a dream dreamed by Cervantes
And Don Quixote a a dream of the country squire.
The double dream confuses them...
A footnote recalls that Quijano was, indeed, the country squire who dreamed a dream of the country squire. Not clear to me yet how this relates to Borges' inimitable "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," about how the man who (re?)created Quixote as an independent work of art.

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