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Re: [mythsoc] Re: Borges and Tolkien

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  • DiegoSeguí
    Hello, I ve been reading and enjoying the list for a while now, but have not participated for want of anything interesting to say. ... Not exactly a mention,
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 16, 2008
      Hello, I've been reading and enjoying the list for a while now,
      but have not participated for want of anything interesting to
      say.

      > On the other hand, it would be
      > somewhat surprising if Borges had never heard of Tolkien.
      > Borges lived until 1986 and was deeply interested both in
      > Old English language and literature and in fantasy. But I
      > have never seen any mention of Tolkien in Borges¢ writings.
      > Does anyone know of any?

      Not exactly a mention, only a second- or third-hand reference: a
      member of the local Tolkien Society (Argentina) once had the
      chance to ask Borges' second wife, María Kodama, about this, and
      she remembered having gone to Scotland sometime around 1976-7
      (she was his secretary by then). During that trip it appears
      that someone read aloud to him the first chapter of 'The Lord of
      the Rings', but he did not seem to be interested and the thing
      was dropped. Perhaps the particular occasion can be traced,
      though.

      By the way, I discussed this with people who have studied Borges
      even professionally, and a usual explanation I got is that
      Borges, although he had many books read to him after we went
      blind, did not choose contemporary authors.

      I hope that helps. Regards,

      Diego Seguí
      Argentina
    • John D Rateliff
      Although interesting, I don t think this shows signs of being influence one way or the other; just two great writers touching on the same theme. I don t know
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 16, 2008
        Although interesting, I don't think this shows signs of being
        influence one way or the other; just two great writers touching on
        the same theme.
        I don't know of any evidence that Tolkien knew of Borges' work,
        and think it's unlikely. Borges certainly knew English literature
        well -- he was v. fond of Chesterton and also knew Dunsany's work --
        but I think he'd turned inwards by the time Tolkien's work was well-
        known. It may have been read to him, but that would be difficult to
        prove one way or the other. The best way to try would be reading
        memoirs and interviews, then writing to Borges' biographers. I don't
        think Borges has yet had a volume of his collected letters; if so the
        editor(s) of that would be in a good position to know. The best
        source wd be his companion, Maria Kodama, if she's still alive.
        If you do turn up any more on this, I'd be interested in hearing
        about it. And of course it'd be well worth writing up the comparison
        between the two's treatment of the theme even without any evidence of
        a direct connection or common source.

        --JDR


        On Jul 16, 2008, at 9:53 AM, Ernest Davis wrote:
        > A passage in Borges' story "The Zahir" is remarkably similar to one
        > in The
        > Return of the King, it seems to me.
        >
        > The Zahir: [The Zahir is a coin. Once someone has seen it, they
        > cannot forget
        > it, and eventually they go insane, unable to think of anything else.]
        >
        > "Time, which generally attenuates memories, only aggravates
        > that of the
        > Zahir. There was a time when I could visualize the obverse and
        > then the
        > reverse. Now I can seem them simultaneously. This is not as
        > though the Zahir
        > were crystal, because it is not a matter of one face being
        > superimposed on the
        > other; rather it is as though my eyesight were spherical, with the
        > Zahir in the
        > center. Whatever is not the Zahir comes to me fragmentarily, as if
        > from a great
        > distance: the arrogant image of Clementina, physical pain."

        > The Return of the King:
        >
        > "Do you remember that bit of rabbit, Mr. Frodo?" he said. "And our
        > place under the warm bank in Captain Faramir's country, the day I
        > saw an oliphaunt?"
        >
        > "No, I am afraid not, Sam," said Frodo. "At least, I know that
        > such things
        > happened, but I cannot see them. No taste of food, no feel of
        > water, no sound
        > of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or
        > star are
        > left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil
        > between me and
        > the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and
        > all else
        > fades."
        >
        > The Zahir was published in 1949 in Spanish and not translated to
        > English until
        > the 60's, so there's certainly no direct influence in either
        > direction. Does
        > anyone know of anything similar in earlier literature? (The
        > "literature" on the
        > Zahir that Borges cites in his story is imaginary.)

        > Also, a more general question. It seems unlikely, though not
        > impossible, that
        > Tolkien ever heard of Borges or read him; he was pretty much
        > unknown in the
        > English-speaking world until the early 70's. On the other hand, it
        > would be
        > somewhat surprising if Borges had never heard of Tolkien. Borges
        > lived until 1986 and was deeply interested both in Old English
        > language and
        > literature and in fantasy. But I have never seen any mention of
        > Tolkien in
        > Borges' writings. Does anyone know of any? As Borges wrote in
        > another essay, "How vast and uncommunicative is the world of
        > literature!"
        >
        > -- Ernie
      • Vincent Ferré
        Good evening to all, Do you have, in English, a translation of Borges s essay on ancient germanic literature ? it was translated in French in 1966. Vincent
        Message 3 of 7 , Jul 24, 2008
          Good evening to all,

          Do you have, in English, a translation of Borges's essay on ancient germanic literature ? it was translated in French in 1966.

          Vincent



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • WendellWag@aol.com
          I presume you mean the essay variously titled The Kenningar and Ancient Germanic Literature . I have a copy of Borges s Selected Non-fictions, the most
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 24, 2008
            I presume you mean the essay variously titled "The Kenningar" and "Ancient
            Germanic Literature". I have a copy of Borges's Selected Non-fictions, the
            most common collection of his essay translated into English. It doesn't
            contain that essay.

            Wendell Wagner


            In a message dated 7/24/2008 10:03:18 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
            ferretolk@... writes:




            Good evening to all,

            Do you have, in English, a translation of Borges's essay on ancient germanic
            literature ? it was translated in French in 1966.

            Vincent

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]







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