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Borges resources
May 7, 2003 10:15 PM   Subscribe

From Abbasids to Zur Linde: A Borges Dictionary (pdf) ; Fantastic Zoology: a graphical interpretation of Borges' "Book of Imaginary Beings" (Edward Gorey would have been interesting); The Intruder: A Borges story in eight games. To refute him is to become contaminated with unreality
posted by vacapinta (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for these: it's been years since I last re-read Borges, and these resources will provide a welcome excuse for me revisit his work.
posted by misteraitch at 12:12 AM on May 8, 2003


An extraordinary gift - thank you. I have 3 or 4 Borges paperback dictionaries but they're not as complete as this index.

The Intruder is one of the stories everybody reads before actually becoming bewitched by Borges. It's so macho and porteño I used not to like it. But then he started republishing his early stuff on Buenos Aires and Argentina and suddenly it all made sense. It's also a great lesson in compression.

Thanks again, vacapinta. A lot.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:17 AM on May 8, 2003


Thanks. I plan to spend weeks or months delving through this dictionary. It offers up gems such as:

Many pirated and mutilated editions of the ninth and tenth editions of the *Encyclopaedia Britannica were printed in America, but none has been found with the title 'Anglo-American Cyclopaedia' or published in New York in 1917, as stated by the narrator of 'Tlön...'. .. In private conversation with the present writers, Borges maintained that he owned a copy of the untraceable 'cyclopaedia'.
posted by vacapinta at 12:42 AM on May 8, 2003


Excellent links, thanks you. May I also add The Book of Sand to the list? It's a hypertext rendition of one of Borges stories, and I find it a fascinating way to approach the work, as well as a nice site in it's own right.
posted by Gamecat at 2:11 AM on May 8, 2003


There can never be too much Borges information. His Collected Fictions have a prized place in any library.

I'm having some trouble accessing the first link, however. Is it just me?

Eveything else is great. Thanks.
posted by hama7 at 2:14 AM on May 8, 2003


Some nice quotes too.
posted by hama7 at 3:01 AM on May 8, 2003


Thanks vacapinta!
posted by plep at 3:50 AM on May 8, 2003


Wow. There goes my morning. Cheers, Vacapinta!
posted by carter at 4:42 AM on May 8, 2003


Be cautious when using the Borges dictionary (the pdf is a bit slow and cranky, but I haven't had problems accessing it, hama7—if you need it, though, here's the HTML version); the Argentine stuff seems fine, but the Islamic stuff is riddled with errors. Some examples:

Abbasids: "Mansur transferred the capital from Damascus to Baghdad, a move which marked the rise of Arab over Persian influence in Islam." Exactly the reverse; it marked the rise of Persian influence.

Abdalmalik: "The ruling family in eleventh-century Muslim Spain." Completely wrong. Abd al-Malik is a personal name (the most famous having been the fifth Umayyad caliph, who built the Dome of the Rock, was the first caliph to mint gold coins, and died in 705); there was no "ruling family" in eleventh-century Spain (which was divided among the Muluk al-Tawaif, rulers of principalities), but the most important was the Abbadids of Seville, all of whom were named Abbad.

Abensida (also Ibn-Sida): "Kitab al-Mukham" s/b Muhkam.

Abulcasim: Usually refers to Abu al Qasim Khalaf ibn Abbas az-Zahrawi (also known by the Latin name Abulcasis), famous Spanish physician (died around 1013), author of an influential medical compendium; why the dictionary would suggest an (otherwise unknown to me) "Aboul-Hosein Ibn Djohein" is a mystery.

Age of Ignorance: "In Islam, the time before the Muslim era known as Jalil." S/b Jahiliyya.

By the way, here's a good article: "Jorge Luis Borges & the plural I" by Eric Ormsby.
posted by languagehat at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2003


[this is good]
posted by fishfucker at 9:52 AM on May 8, 2003


languagehat: It would be interesting to trace these down to the original borges sources and see if there were errors in transcripion.

Interestingly enough, the introduction mentions a couple odd things:

In writing this Dictionary we have had frequent recourse to the obvious encyclopaedias and other
works of reference which Borges might have consulted. A list of these would be overlong and
appear ostentatious but perhaps the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica should be
singled out for special indebtedness.

and

Borges’s often old-fashioned spelling of names has been adopted, though in most cases there
is some cross-reference to modern spelling.


So there remains the question of whether this is a dictionary of our world, or of Borges' world, which overlaps it.
posted by vacapinta at 10:10 AM on May 8, 2003


God bless Borges.
posted by Hildago at 11:49 AM on May 8, 2003


Many thanks languagehat.
posted by hama7 at 7:36 PM on May 8, 2003


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