Jorge Luis Borges: This Craft of Verse

pdf online This Craft of Verse AUTHOR Jorge Luis Borges –

Thing because we are unable to define it If we are in a Chestertonian mood one of the very best moods to be in I think we might say that we can define something only we know nothing about it 17 There are of course verses that are beautiful and meaningless Yet they still have a meaning not to the reason but to the imagination 85httpmarklindnerinfoblog200901Anyone who knows me or has read this blog for the last year or so ought to be able to see how or at least that these uotes speak to meThe lecture titles are 1 The Riddle of Poetry 2 The Metaphor 3 The Telling of the Tale 4 Word Music and Translation 5 Thought and Poetry 6 A Poet s Creed Fairly interesting and Borges is as eminently likable speaking as himself as he is speaking under one of his thousands of guises he has the combination of intelligence and necessary lack of confidence in it and depth of feeling needed to avoid academic posturing and mouth breathing This Craft Of Verse is a little book composed of a series of short lectures Jorge Luis Borges gave at Harvard University in the fall of 1967 Taken together they can be read as a series of love letters to poems novels histories and philosophies as well as to all the men and women who wrote to make sense of life and in doing so gave pleasureIf Borges is a great lover he is Casanova than Don Juan The man speaks softly of writers flirts with philosophers and touches in passing historic figures When he takes up books and writers I feel the kind of envy I once felt when I saw a man enter a room with a woman I desired Later I d watch them leave and imagine them falling into bed and into each other s flesh Borges is not a literary snob what s difficult is not his erudition but his generosity I do not deserve his patience his gentle humor I suspect that he knew he was lecturing to a room of somnolents at best and idiots at worse those at the back of the class where you would have found meHow does one presume to keep up with a man who can start with Homer and continue to Kafka Or slip from Don uixote to Sherlock Holmes and later explains it was Tacitus who led him to Carlyle who led him in turn to Schopenhauer Does he expect me to follow him Is it possible that I will learn to read for the pleasures of reading and then allow myself to invent my own conclusions as Borges did with Joyce and with Whitman tooIf I had a Thousand and One Nights I couldn t do it That said Borges in The Craft of Verse doesn t condemn me for my ignorance or worse my laziness What the man did in his lectures is invite his audience to oin him The invitation remains open to us his readers We can start today or next week Borges lovers are immortal and insatiable we only have to take one in hand Then another Their availability is not in uestion the uestion is Do we have the stamina There is a wonderful moment in this where Borges talks of all of the possible metaphors there could be in the world all of the things that could be compared to other things the near infinity of metaphors and yet we constantly though ages and cultures return over and over to the same metaphors Stars and eyes for instance and that beautiful line from Plato I wish I could be the night and then I would watch over you with a thousand eyes sighHis discussion about believing in the character of Sherlock Holmes long after he stopped believing in any of the stories of Holmes is so brilliantly observant it is easy to see why people are obsessed with this manThese lectures are witty intelligent and surprisingly frank As he says he feels he is of a reader than a writer and that is a terribly interesting thing to sayI enjoyed these lectures much than I thought I would I had read some Borges in Uni and thought him one of those writers Now I must go back and read of himA good book to read if you are feeling alone in the world Self effacing Borges fun to hang out with but intimidating in his casual eruditionThis is why I think of myself as being essentially a reader As you are aware I have ventured occasionally into writing but I think that what I have read is far important than what I have written For one reads what one likes yet one writes not what one would like to write but what one is able to writeAt first certainly I was only a reader Yet I think the happiness of a reader is beyond that of a writer for a reader need feel no trouble no anxiety he is merely out for happiness And happiness when you are a reader is freuent For a writer moments of pleasure is few and far betweenBorges here comes across as magnificent a reader as he is a writer We can listen on in awe Of course poetics wise nothing extraordinary is conveyed nor intended Just the simple stuf. Of the 20th century In its wide ranging commentary and exuisite insights the book stands as a deeply personal yet far reaching introduction to the pleasures of the word and as a first hand testimony of to the life of literatur.

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Word music and translation and thought and poetry He ended with sharing his own creed as a poet wherein he try to Making India Work justify my own life and the confidence some of you may have in me despite this rather awkward and fumbling first lecture of mineIt was hardly awkward and fumbling In every lecture he demonstrated utter erudition which was to be expected but still there s a pure kind of magic in the words he was unleashing He had a way of saying things in a punctilious manner of punctuating ideas even if they were in retrospect obvious observations Like for example Happiness when you are a reader is freuent Or on reading lists The danger of making a list is that the omissions stand out and that people think of you as being insensitive And on long books Though we are apt to think of mere size as being somehow brutal I think there are many books whose essence lies in their being lengthy And this came from a writer who never wrote a novelAmong the verses he discussed included lines or passages from Keats s On First Looking into Chapman s Homer the sonnet Inclusiveness by Dante Gabriel Rossetti James Joyce s Finnegans Wake Robert Frost and Browning and a translation of San Juan de la Cruz He recited them with feeling bringing out the stresses where they fall sometimes going at length in describing the choice of words of the poet and pointing out their distinctiveness what makes the lines go on ringing in the reader s ears Sometimes it felt like he was sharing his conversations with the old masters from Greek and Old English giving us an exclusive preview to an anticipated blockbuster movieAside from erudition two other things marked the genius of these lectures humor and humility The speaker s rapport and interaction with the audience were amazing One imagined the listeners hanging on to every word as when he shared his propensity to book buyingSometimes looking at the many books I have at home I feel I shall die before I have come to the end of them and yet I cannot resist the temptation of buying new books When I go when I walk inside a library I find a book on one of my hobbies for example Old English or Old Norse poetry I say to myself What a pity I can t buy that book because I already have a copy at home That last statement elicited laughter among the listeners who also broke into a hearty applause There are many similar moments in the recording that were given to the audience s acknowledgement of the speaker s humor The interaction between speaker and listeners wasust preciousThe lectures also revealed a man of humility and self effacing disposition one who acknowledged his forebears and influences and the sources of his metaphysical ideasIf I were a daring thinker but I am not I am a very timid thinker I am groping my way along I could of course say that only a dozen or so patterns exist and that all other metaphors are mere arbitrary gamesIn fact he said them those things about the patterns and the games of metaphors But he always gave fair warning on what and what not to expect from him But still the things he spoke aboutHis thoughts on translation were as timely as ever In his lecture on translation he debunked the supposed inferiority of translations to the original text by stating I suppose if we did not know whether one was original and the other translation we could Everwar (Cal Leandros, judge them fairly It s one of the best defense of translations I ve readOn the strange beauty of literal translations he had an interesting takeIn fact it might be said that literal translations make not only as Matthew Arnold pointed out for uncouthness and oddity but also for strangeness and beauty This I think is felt by all of us for if we look into a literal translation of some outlandish poem we expect something strange If we do not find it we feel somehow disappointedHe erroneously assumed however that FitzGerald s translation of Omar Khayy m s Rub iy t from which he uoted a uatrain as an example is a literal one And I m not sure what he would make of Nabokov s extremely faithful Eugene OneginThat only a very few pat Found this utterly lovely little book of lectures practically hidden away in the deepest bowels of the compressed stacks when I went looking for something else on poetry Bought myself and my lady a copy almost immediately after I began reading it Whenever I have dipped into books of aesthetics I have had an uncomfortable feeling that I was reading the works of astronomers who never looked at the stars I mean that they were writing about poetry as if poetry were a task and not what it really is a passion and aoy 2 I would like to say that we make a very common mistake when we think we re ignorant of some. Th literature and the English language Transcribed from tapes only recently discovered This Craft of Verse captures the cadences candour wit and remarkable erudition of one of the most extraordinary and enduring literary voices.

I read this book over breakfast I found that the format lended itself to such a casual reading short lectures larger print I really liked the layout of the book Well done typesetter You made reading this book a pleasure In typical Borges fashion a single page will move effortlessly through uotes and references to Don uixote Arabian Nights Old English grammar and Milton most of the uotations are delivered from memory in their original languageOnly three stars however because a lot of the opinions anecdotes and commentary contained in this book are contained in other Borges books I ve read So deja vu But not in a bad way More like the loveable old uncle who repeats the same s Every Borges lecture is always a treat see also the superb lecture collection Professor Borges A Course on English Literature so thankfully this recent transcription of a series of rediscovered lectures Borges gave at Harvard in the 60s has been made available to us Not only was he one of the greatest writers of all time but such a generous reader and riveting speaker that it s impossible to not want to immediately ump on everything he references I do think his modesty is often comical as in his occasional phrasings of oh I may have forgotten this minor detail when the reader knows full well that he delivered these multilingual polyphonic omnierudite lectures based solely on memory without any notes at all but his humble and self effacing demeanor is so sincere and his passion for li It goes without saying that Borges is a man of great learning but in this series of lectures his humility and self deprecating wit outshine even his extensive knowledge of world literature I suppose being honored at Harvard meant a lot to him At any rate it s a very uick and enjoyable read What an honor and a privilege to be given access to the mind of one of the most original thinkers in the history of literature In the 1967 1968 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures delivered at Harvard University Borges spoke extemporaneously and without notes he was blind by this time about his life in literature and the craft of poetry I read this slim volume published in 2000 containing his six lectures and the afterword by the editor C tlin Andrei Mih ilescu and closed it to find my eyes filled with tears They were the tears of loss that such a brilliant mind has gone out of the world but also tears of gratitude that one such as he had come to be and that he has shared with us his love of reading and his insight into the magical world of words From our father Homer through Vergil through Borges the chain continues and I have at hand the latest volume of Alberto Manguel who keeps alive the light of truth passed down from heart to heart of those who love the music of the words Once as a young man while orange blossoms drifted down I sat with my hands on the tomb of Saadi and wished for understanding In Borges I have found that wish fulfilled by learning that the seeking is the treasure and that oining the company of seekers is the highest aspiration Borges imagined Paradise to be a kind of magnificent library and I cannot help but picture him there his sight restored climbing a ladder to reach a cherished volume shelved among the eternal stars I thought I d never hear the brave librarian speak Posterity saved the lectures that Jorge Luis Borges 1899 1986 delivered in Harvard University in the fall of 67 and spring 68 The Argentinian was nearing 70 when he gave this series of lectures The recordings were discovered from the university archives and were transcribed and published in book form in 2000Borges s voice boomed across space and time I found it ideal to listen to the lectures while following along with a transcription posted in a blog It may be a better experience than ust reading the transcriptions Here is the free audio download page of the lectures He spoke in a clipped staccato manner catching breath and thought at once He groped for ideas rather like a blind man groping for things in the dark But he always found them and he brought them out to the light We can sense him groping for ideas several moves in advance building a construct from his previous readings and then revealing the final elegant construction of the library of the mind the library in his mindThe audience listened intently keenly as the penetrating gaze of the master pierced through the lines of poetry and gave his literary interpretation and appreciation He spoke the six lectures impromptu with perhaps only a few days preparation for each topicThe range of his subjects are as varied as colors He began with the riddle of poetry and continued with metaphor epic poetry and the novel. Through a twist of fate that the author of Labyrinths himself would have relished these lost lectures given in English at Harvard in 1967 1968 by Jorge Luis Borges return to us now a recovered tale of a life long love affair wi.

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo usually referred to as Jorge Luis Borges Spanish pronunciation xoɾxe lwis boɾxes was an Argentine writer and poet born in Buenos Aires In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school and traveled to Spain On his return to Argentina in 1921 Borges began publishing his poems and essays in Surrealist literary journals He also wo