Professor Borges A course on English literature

Jorge Luis Borges, 1899-1986

Book - 2013

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New York : New Directions Books 2013.
Item Description
A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature.
Physical Description
xiv, 306 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Jorge Luis Borges, 1899-1986 (-)
Other Authors
Katherine Silver (translator)
  • About this book
  • Class 1: the Anglo-Saxons. Genealogy of the Germanic kings. Poetry and kennings.
  • Class 2: Beowulf. Description of the Germans. Ancient funeral rites.
  • Class 3: Beowulf. Bravery and boastfulness: Beowulf as compared to the compadritos.
  • Class 4: The Finnsburh fragment. The Vikings. Anecdotes from Borges's trip to York. :The Battle of Brunanburh" Tennyson's translation.
  • Class 5: "The Battle of Maldon." Christian poetry. "Caedmon's hymn." The runic alphabet. Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon elegies.
  • Class 6: The origins of poetry in England. The Anglo-Saxon elegies. Christian poetry: "The dream of the Rood."
  • Class 7: The two books written by God. The Anglo-Saxon bestiary. Riddles. "The grave." The Battle of Hastings.
  • Class 8: A brief history until the eighteenth century. The life of Samuel Johnson.
  • Class 9: Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, by Samuel Johnson. The legend of the Buddha. Optimism and pessimism. Leibniz and Voltaire.
  • Class 10: Samuel Johnson as seen by Boswell. The art of biography. Boswell and his critics.
  • Class 11: The romantic movement. The life of James Macpherson. The invention of Ossian. Opinions about Ossian. Polemic with Johnson. Reappraisal of Macpherson.
  • Class 12: Life of William Wordsworth. The prelude and other poems.
  • Class 13: The life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. A story by Henry James. Coleridge and Macedonio Fernandez, compared. Coleridge and Shakespeare. In cold blood, by Truman Capote.
  • Class 14: Coleridge's final years. Coleridge compared to Dante Alighieri. Coleridge's poems. "Kubla Khan." Coleridge's dream.
  • Class 15: The life of William Blake. The poem "The Tyger." Blake and Swedenborg's philosophy, compared. A poem by Rupert Brooke. Blake's poems.
  • Class 16: Life of Thomas Carlyle. Sartor Resartus by Carlyle. Carlyle, precursor of Nazism. Bolivar's soldiers, according to Carlyle.
  • Class 17: The Victorian era. The life of Charles Dickens. The novels of Charles Dickens. William Wilkie Collins. The mystery of Edwin Drood, by Dickens.
  • Class 18: The life of Robert Browning. The obscurity of his work. His poems.
  • Class 19: Robert Browning's poems. A chat with Alfonso Reyes. The ring and the book.
  • Class 20: The life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Evaluation of Rossetti as a poet and a painter. The theme of the double (fetch). A book of exhumed poems. Rossetti's poems. History cyclically repeated.
  • Class 21: Rossetti's poem. Rossetti as seen by Max Nordau. "The Blessed Damozel," "Eden Bower," and "Troy Town."
  • Class 22: The life of William Morris. The three subjects worthy of poetry. King Arthur and the myth of the return of the hero. Morris's interests. Morris and Chaucer. "The defence of Guenevere."
  • Class 23: "The tune of the seven towers," "The sailing of the sword," and The earthly paradise, by William Morris. The Icelandic sagas. The story of Gunnar.
  • Class 24: The story of Sigurd the Volsung, by William Morris. The life of Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Class 25: The works of Robert Louis Stevenson: New Arabian Nights, "Markheim," The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jekyll and Hyde in the movies. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. "Requiem," by Stevenson.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Borges was famous for his love of British literature and especially its Anglo-Saxon guts, the thorny, Germanic, Viking-inflected language he learned in his childhood. Here Borges scholars Arias and Hadis have collected 25 of his lectures on English literature, covering Beowulf to Robert Louis Stevenson, which he delivered at the University of Buenos Aires in 1966. The book's thorough notes prove Arias's assertion that "editing this book was like running after a Borges who was constantly getting lost among the books in a library." As much as these lectures are shaped by Borges's wide-ranging, omnivorous mind, they are also a demonstration of the great pleasure he found in these works of literature. This dense thicket of allusions (as only Borges could perform them) is also a profound testament of love. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This mesmerizing volume preserves the eclectic, erudite, and charismatic style of Argentine writer Borges (Labyrinths) and his insights on English literature, via his 1966 class at the University of Buenos Aires. Working from the transcriptions of tapes made by students, the editors have reconstructed the course, which traced English literature from its Saxon roots through the 19th century. The 25 lectures, on subjects including Beowulf, Anglo-Saxon elegies, and the novels of Charles Dickens, are bookended by informative essays and extensive, helpful endnotes. Borges moves effortless between subjects, almost overloading the senses with facts, digressions, and interpretations. While the lectures are not all equally compelling, there is enough here to keep the reader moving forward, and Borges's delight and passion for every author shines brightly. As the afterword explains: "What Borges tries to do as a professor, more than prepare his students for exams, is excite and entice them to read the works and discover the authors." Over 40 years later, he is still achieving that goal. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In English at last, Borges’s erudite and entertaining lectures on English literature from Beowulf to Oscar Wilde

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Harper’s MagazineBorges takes us on a startling, idiosyncratic, fresh, and highly opinionated tour of English literature, weaving together countless cultural traditions of the last three thousand years. Borges’s lectures — delivered extempore by a man of extraordinary erudition — bring the canon to remarkably vivid life. Now translated into English for the first time, these lectures are accompanied by extensive and informative notes by the Borges scholars Martín Arias and Martín Hadis.