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Sunday, November 18, 2012

135. Prologue to Fervor de Buenos Aires - Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges - Prologue to Fervor de Buenos Aires

I have not rewritten this book. I have moderated its baroque excesses. I have polished some rough spots. I have eliminated sentimentality and haziness, and, as I went through the work, at times agreeable to me and at other times quite unsettling, I felt that the young man who wrote the book in 1923 was already essentially—what does “essentially” mean?—the mature author who either resigns himself never to touch his earlier work or who endeavors to rewrite it. We two are the same person; we both do not believe in either failure or success or in literary cabals and their dogmas; both are fond of Schopenhauer, Stevenson, and Whitman. For me, Fervor de Buenos Aires foreshadows all that I would write afterwards. For what could be read between the lines, for what it promised in one way or in another, Enrique Diez-Canedo and Alfonso Reyes gave it their approval.
    Like young writers of 1969, we of 1923 were timid. Fearful of their own inner poverty, they tried then as they do now, to make it disappear behind innocent strident novelty. I, for instance, tried to do too many things: I wanted to imitate a certain roughness (which I liked) in the work of Miguel de Unamuno; I wanted to be a Spanish writer from the seventeenth century, to be Macedonio Fernández, to invent metaphors already set down by Lugones, to praise a Buenos Aires of one-story houses and—to the West or South—country houses surrounded by iron fencing.
    At the time, I was seeking out late afternoons, drab outskirts, and un-
happiness; now I seek mornings, the center own, peace.

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