In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Jorge Luis Borges

  • Introduction
  • Biographies
  • Memoirs and Reminiscences
  • Conversations
  • Correspondence
  • Critical Editions
  • Literature Inspired by Borges
  • Bibliographies and Concordances
  • Select English Translations

Latin American Studies Jorge Luis Borges
Ilan Stavans, Youssef Boucetta
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0274


Argentine hombre de letras Jorge Luis Borges (b. 1899–d. 1986) is one of Latin America’s most influential literary voices. He spent his youth in Europe and started as a poet connected to aesthetic movements like Ultraísmo but achieved international renown as the author of essays and stories that deliberately erase the border between fiction and nonfiction. Fascinated with tango, payadores, milongas, compadritos, gauchos, and other forms of Buenos Aires folklore, he was an assiduous contributor to periodicals in the 1930s and 1940s, among them the women’s magazine El Hogar and the intellectual journal Sur, edited by his friend Victoria Ocampo. Many of the most important pieces by Borges, including “Tlön Uqbar, Orbis tertius,” “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” “The Library of Babel,” “Emma Zunz,” “Death and the Compass,” and “The Aleph,” appeared in the latter. The product of a modernist trend and other avant-garde aesthetic modes like Ultraísmo in Argentina in the early twentieth century, he eventually became—equivocally, perhaps—a founding figure of what has come to be known globally as postmodernism. His influence is palpable on writers as disparate as Paul Auster, John Barth, Umberto Eco, and Gabriel García Márquez. While the amount of criticism on Borges isn’t infinite, at times it feels as if it is. This bibliography—which is far from exhaustive—organizes the output into Biographies and Memoirs and Reminiscences; Works by Borges; Conversations; Correspondence; Critical Editions; Select Scholarly Books; Literature Inspired by Borges; Films by, and about, Borges; Bibliographies and Concordances; and Select English Translations. Borges is a cerebral, bookish writer. Critics like Ángel Rama, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, and others often criticized him for reducing human affairs to mathematical formulas. His literary characters are lacking affection. Sexuality, when it appears in his oeuvre, is often represented in indirect, abstract, or theoretical terms. He is known to have fallen in love with an array of women. Many of these were mere infatuations that didn’t lead to much. With many of the women, Borges collaborated in anthologies, or he coedited or wrote introductions to works on medieval Germanic literature, Buddhism, and American literature, among other topics. He married twice, once in his sixties to Elsa Astete Millán, who accompanied him to Cambridge, Mass., to deliver the Charles Eliot Norton lectures, the other to his former student and literary assistant María Kodama. Borges became blind around the age of fifty. Like him, his father and other relatives had also been blind. Borges represented his blindness in many different ways, but often as simply another way of being in the world. In any case, he never stopped connecting with books. Friends would come to his Buenos Aires apartment to read to him. And he would dictate to acquaintances the poems and stories he crafted in his mind. Another criticism of Borges is that he was apolitical. In fact, he had run-ins with Peronism and was outspoken against Nazism during the Second World War. He argued for the judgment and punishment of the members of the junta involved with torture and murder, asserting that there should be no impunity. Yet it is true that he was sarcastic about contemporary politics, deriding them as a game of fools. It is said that he was denied the Nobel Prize in Literature in part because he shook hands with Chile’s dictator General Augusto Pinochet. What makes Borges’s writing impactful is his capacity to turn philosophical, mathematical, and mystic concepts into narrative; to foreground the changes that modernity had brought along in the twentieth century and present them from a postcolonial perspective; and to reinvent the Latin American literary tradition in such way that paid tribute to its European origins but also made it stunningly original.


Borges has enjoyed a prolific afterlife. All his works, even the most recondite, are available in print. Many of them have been translated into numerous languages. He started by doing translations when he was still a boy and wrote poetry as a young man. He and his family were in Europe when the First World War began and stayed there until it ended. Borges lived in Switzerland and Spain, among other places. Profusely bookish, upon his return to Buenos Aires he interacted with Ultraísmo, an avant-garde aesthetic movement he had already encountered in Spain. He befriended the avant-gardist Macedonio Fernández, author of the influential novel Museo de la Novela de la Eterna (1967), in English translation The Museum of Eterna’s Novel. He also became infatuated with the Argentine life of arrabales, the nearby peripheries. His early work is defined by these interests. He suffered a near-fatal accident—recounted, in fictional terms in the story “The South”—that sent him to the hospital, where he feared his memory had vanished. After he was discharged, he switched to writing essays and stories. In the forties, he took a stand against Juan Domingo Perón as well as Adolf Hitler. His reputation grew, first in Argentine literary circles, then regionally, and, in the 1960s, globally through a series of translations that came about after he was awarded the Formentor Prize, also known as the International Publishers Prize. This list of titles only mentions first editions or their equivalent.

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