Jorge Luis Borges Quotes

The truth is that we live out our lives putting off all that can be put off; perhaps we all know deep down that we are immortal and that sooner or later all men will do and know all things.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Funes the Memorious," Labyrinths (1964).
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It is known that Whistler when asked how long it took him to paint one of his "nocturnes" answered: "All of my life." With the same rigor he could have said that all of the centuries that preceded the moment when he painted were necessary. From that correct application of the law of causality it follows that the slightest event presupposes the inconceivable universe and, conversely, that the universe needs even the slightest of events.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Gauchesque Poetry" ["La poesía gauchesca"], Discussion [Discusión] (1932).
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Art always opts for the individual, the concrete; art is not Platonic.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Gauchesque Poetry" ["La poesía gauchesca"], Discussion [Discusión] (1932).
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Every writer "creates" his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. repr. In Other Inquisitions (1960, trans. 1964). Kafka and His Precursors (1951).
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The fact is that all writers create their precursors. Their work modifies our conception of the past, just as it is bound to modify the future.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Kafka and His Precursors" ["Kafka y sus precursores"], Other Inquisitions [Otras inquisiciones] (1952). Cf. also the essay on Hawthorne in the same volume, in which Borges says: "Wakefield" prefigures Franz Kafka, but the latter modifies, and sharpens, the reading of "Wakefield." The debt is mutual; a great writer creates his or her precursors. He or she creates them and in some fashion justifies them.
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The central problem of novel-writing is causality.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Narrative Art and Magic" ["El arte narrativo y la magia"] (1932), Discussion [Discusión] (1932).
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In the course of a life devoted less to living than to reading, I have verified many times that literary intentions and theories are nothing more than stimuli and that the final work usually ignores or even contradicts them.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Nathaniel Hawthorne," Other Inquisitions [Otras inquisiciones] (1952).
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And yet, and yet ... Denying temporal succession, denying the self, denying the astronomical universe, are obvious acts of desperation and secret consolation. Our fate (unlike the hell of Swedenborg or the hell of Tibetan mythology) is not frightful because it is unreal; it is frightful because it is irreversible and ironclad. Time is the thing I am made of. Time is a river that sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that tears me apart, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "New Refutation of Time" ["Nueva refutación del tiempo"], Other Inquisitions [Otras inquisiciones] (1952).
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A book is not an autonomous entity: it is a relation, an axis of innumerable relations. One literature differs from another, be it earlier or later, not because of the texts but because of the way they are read: if I could read any page from the present time—this one, for instance—as it will be read in the year 2000, I would know what the literature of the year 2000 would be like.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Note on (toward) Bernard Shaw" ["Nota sobre (hacia) Bernard Shaw" (1951)], Other Inquisitions [Otras inquisiciones] (1952).
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The exercise of letters is sometimes linked to the ambition to contruct an absolute book, a book of books that includes the others like a Platonic archetype, an object whose virtues are not diminished by the passage of time.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. "Note on Walt Whitman" ["Nota sobre Walt Whitman"], Discussion [Discusión] (1932).
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