View Full Version : Translations of Jorge Luis Borges

17-11-2004, 06:52 AM
Hello all. I've never read any Borges before, and I am out to buy my first copy of his work. I was wondering if anyone could recommend some good translations/collections to start with?

17-11-2004, 07:32 AM
i don't speak spanish but the received wisdom seems to be the book most people start out with, the labyrinths collection, is badly translated. the new(ish) penguin translations are supposed to be very accomplished. there's a lot about now. no idea who did them. i'm just repeating stuff i heard.

17-11-2004, 11:46 AM
I have no idea about the merits of one translation over another, but if you can still find it, you'd be hard pushed to beat the Collected Fictions (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0141182105/qid=1100694735/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl/202-6584242-5004613).

It's the complete stories in a single volume. The crazy thing is that it went out of print a couple of years ago, and I've seen no sign of it being reissued, which is a real shame. The alternative is to seek out copies of the individual volumes - they're all collections of short stories - two of the best being The Garden of Forking Paths and The Aleph, although it's all good really. Borges was also a prolific and important essayist - I've not read it, but there's a Penguin volume of non-fiction writings too (The Total Library).

Wow - to be reading Borges for the first time! I'm envious; I hope you enjoy whatever you find.

17-11-2004, 12:57 PM
and theres the poetry!

17-11-2004, 02:33 PM
Labyrinths has a couple of different translators' work in it, and some of it is good, some of it bad. The Penguin Complete Fictions translation by Andrew Hurley is more even, and supposedly more directly faithful to the idiosyncratic Spanish of Borges (the unanimous night n'all that), however I think the English is a little flat as a result of this slavishness.
The Total Library is a must, (if you have the money that is - I always hate people saying things are 'musts' as most of the time I can't afford half the things that are supposedly essential for the completeness of my experience of life).
I can still recall my brother telling me to read 'The House of Asterion' though, and the joy of discovering the rest of Borges, so above all, don't worry too much about editions.

17-11-2004, 09:04 PM
The Penguin Collected Fictions translation by Andrew Hurley
i got that 1 - includes all the short stories - i started in the middle and have been reading it for 4 or 5 years i think, not sure whether i will ever finish

no poetry unfort :( unately

17-11-2004, 10:27 PM
i got that 1 - includes all the short stories - i started in the middle and have been reading it for 4 or 5 years i think, not sure whether i will ever finish

no poetry unfort :( unately

That almost sounds Borgesian in itself...

18-11-2004, 11:06 PM

23-11-2004, 12:28 PM
there is a story, probably apocryphal, of how, once he became completely blind, borges used to like to sit looking out to sea, listening to the waves...one day one of his friends found him doing this, but hadn't the heart to tell him that he was actually facing the wrong way...

08-12-2004, 08:28 PM
there are a set of 2+ cds still in print, of lectures Borges had at some US university...just to hear the man talk was indescribable....

in general, i think spanish suffer from being translated into english, as those two languages are almost incompatible, or at least the word-sound are so different, it comes across as slightly stale (and especially because of Borges' very learned spanish, which uses a lot of archaisms...)
i've read him in english after reading him in other languages,and the comparision is telling, the english translations are much less engaging, but if you love borges, you will love him anyway in spite of such minor let-downs.

Rambler, --> i think the "Collected Fictions" series have been reissued now, at least i've just seen two or three new editions around...one is "Collected Non-fictions", a must have imo, he writes almost better in his essays,and reading them (-he deals with the same topics as in his short stories basically-), you understand more where he's coming from.

09-12-2004, 08:59 AM
Thanks for the heads up arcaNa.

Yeah, I've got the non-fictions round the house somewhere. Must get round to reading them... :)

07-01-2005, 06:16 AM
A very good review of Collected Fictions (with summary from other reviews):


18-04-2008, 06:14 PM
saw this today - anyone here qualified to comment?