Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Borges & the Inklings

Expand Messages
  • David Lenander
    I may have said this before on this list, but I ve always found it enormously significant that when Borges tells the story of how he started writing stories,
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 25, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      I may have said this before on this list, but I've always found it
      enormously significant that when Borges tells the story of how he
      started writing stories, he cites C.S. Lewis's _Out of the Silent
      Planet_ in an odd way. I'm not sure whether his account is true-to-
      life or not, but either way, I doubt that it's mere coincidence that
      he cites that particular work. He says that after an illness he'd
      gone blind (this was much earlier, in the 30s), and someone (his
      wife? mother?) was reading aloud to him when his sight returned.
      The book she was reading from was _Out of the Silent Planet_. At
      this, he felt that his life and dreams of writing poetry had
      returned. He was afraid to try writing poetry, because he so feared
      failing. So he thought that if he tried writing a story, if he
      failed at that he'd still have a chance of trying again with a poem.
      So he wrote a story (which supposedly was one of those masterpieces,
      like "Tlon, Uqbar, etc."). I don't know that knowing one Inkling
      means he knew anything of them, but he was very aware of writing in
      English, and I'd bet that if he didn't know or care for Tolkien's
      fiction (and I can readily imagine that) he may well have known
      Tolkien's essays, and his edition of _Sir Gawaine_. One of my
      professors at the U of MN, Charles Sugnet, was a great fan of
      Borges's stories that were so influential when translated into
      English in the early 60s. (In fact, that's how I first read Borges,
      in one of his classes). Sometime in the late 60s or early 70s,
      Borges came to Minneapolis on some speaking tour, and Charlie was
      chosen, as an expert on post-modern, contemporary fiction, and a
      Borges fan, to be Borges's local guide (Borges was really blind by
      then) . Charlie was very excited, of course, but rather to his
      horror, Borges (who had moved away from his early stuff, and become
      more and more conservative in old age) wasn't interested in talking
      about his own work or any contemporary, Modernist or Post-modernist
      things, or even anything so recent as the Romantics or Victorians
      (Charlie is also a specialist in Blake and Dickens and other writers
      of those eras). "So you're an English professor," remarked Borges to
      him, visibly warming up. He wanted to talk only about Beowulf and
      Anglo-Saxon. It was funnier when Charlie told the story, but I think
      that the point is worth making, that there may be various parallels
      if not direct influences from our Inklings with Borges, possibly the
      most-influential writer of the 20th Century.


      On Jul 17, 2008, at 8:04 AM, mythsoc@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      > Re: Borges and Tolkien
      > Posted by: "John D Rateliff" sacnoth@... sacnoth32
      > Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:01 pm (PDT)
      >
      > 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

      David Lenander
      d-lena@...
      2095 Hamline Ave. N.
      Roseville, MN 55113

      651-292-8887
      http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Lenander
      Following up on my previous and rather careless note, the account by Borges was in his An Autobiographical Note, which appeared in 1970 in _The Aleph and
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 26, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        Following up on my previous and rather careless note, the account by
        Borges was in his "An Autobiographical Note," which appeared in 1970
        in _The Aleph and Other Stories_, and apparently also in _The New
        Yorker_. It was, of course, his mother who read to him while he
        recuperated from a serious infection, he didn't marry until much
        later. While he had published many poems, essays and some short
        stories, it was this experience that led to the new phase in his
        writing, the "mature" work. His story was "Pierre Menard, the Author
        of the _Quixote_," and the next story he wrote was "Tlon, Uqbar and
        Orbis Tertius." I haven't been able to locate the essay, but I did
        find a review by Ilan Stavans (in _Transition), who writes: "The
        single most important event in Borges's life . . . was his near-fatal
        accident on Christmas Eve 1938. . . . His mother looked after him in
        the hospital and read C.S. Lewis's _Out of the Silent Planet_ to him.
        During his recovery, he wrote "Pierre Menard . . . ."

        I kept thinking of the last time I tossed off a reply to John on
        something I read more than twenty years ago and I was totally wrong.
        I think I'm substantially correct this time. Of course, trusting
        anything Borges wrote to be literally true is a doubtful undertaking.

        > Messages In This Digest (1 Message)
        > 1.Borges & the Inklings From: David Lenander
        > View All Topics | Create New Topic
        > Message
        > 1.Borges & the InklingsPosted by: "David Lenander" d-lena@...
        > davidlenanderFri Jul 25, 2008 8:11 am (PDT)
        > I may have said this before on this list, but I've always found it
        > enormously significant that when Borges tells the story of how he
        > started writing stories, he cites C.S. Lewis's _Out of the Silent
        > Planet_ in an odd way. I'm not sure whether his account is true-to-
        > life or not, but either way, I doubt that it's mere coincidence that
        > he cites that particular work. He says that after an illness he'd
        > gone blind (this was much earlier, in the 30s), and someone (his
        > wife? mother?) was reading aloud to him when his sight returned.
        > The book she was reading from was _Out of the Silent Planet_.

        David Lenander
        d-lena@...
        2095 Hamline Ave. N.
        Roseville, MN 55113

        651-292-8887
        http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
      • Lynn Maudlin
        It s also interesting in the light of meeting your heroes - they may have moved on, they may have regressed, they may not be nearly so heroic (in whatever
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 28, 2008
        • 0 Attachment
          It's also interesting in the light of 'meeting your heroes' - they may
          have moved on, they may have regressed, they may not be nearly so
          heroic (in whatever sense) as we'd projected... an interesting
          dilemma! Humans do persist in having feet of clay.

          -- Lynn --

          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Lenander <d-lena@...> wrote:
          >
          > Sometime in the late 60s or early 70s,
          > Borges came to Minneapolis on some speaking tour, and Charlie was
          > chosen, as an expert on post-modern, contemporary fiction, and a
          > Borges fan, to be Borges's local guide (Borges was really blind by
          > then) . Charlie was very excited, of course, but rather to his
          > horror, Borges (who had moved away from his early stuff, and become
          > more and more conservative in old age) wasn't interested in talking
          > about his own work or any contemporary, Modernist or Post-modernist
          > things, or even anything so recent as the Romantics or Victorians
          > (Charlie is also a specialist in Blake and Dickens and other writers
          > of those eras). "So you're an English professor," remarked Borges to
          > him, visibly warming up. He wanted to talk only about Beowulf and
          > Anglo-Saxon. It was funnier when Charlie told the story, but I think
          > that the point is worth making, that there may be various parallels
          > if not direct influences from our Inklings with Borges, possibly the
          > most-influential writer of the 20th Century.
        • David Emerson
          ... Dang! That must be why my shoes are so dirty! emerdavid ________________________________________ PeoplePC Online A better way to Internet
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 28, 2008
          • 0 Attachment
            -----Original Message-----
            >From: Lynn Maudlin <lynnmaudlin@...>
            >
            >Humans do persist in having feet of clay.

            Dang! That must be why my shoes are so dirty!

            emerdavid

            ________________________________________
            PeoplePC Online
            A better way to Internet
            http://www.peoplepc.com
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.