Borges appears to be very emotional when he describes his mother. He recollects how she had been so huffed, on the other hand, he could not reciprocate that affection and a sense of guilt buried in him explodes during this conversation. As a general observation, he tells that all children are bound to take their mother for granted and will realize her importance when she is no more with them. When asked about blindness, he modestly admits that initially, it was quite difficult for him because he had reached a completely unknown world and many-a-times he had to suffer embarrassment and humiliation
The entire episode is viewed in a philosophical way when he tells people that all such negative aspects are given as raw material and only a few of them can transmit them and convert their miserable condition into an accomplishment. He further feels that he has to enjoy that period of strive and should also pretend that he is not blind and that is the main reason he bought books and filled his library with them.
Trying to interpret a dream in a way Borges did or does is quite unique because, at the age of 83, a blind man is ready to take up a challenge of trying to write a book on the history of books is not every man‟s outlook. Trying to explain the nature of a book or piece of literature, he explains the same keeping the reader in mind. When a poet has created something and he fails to make the reader understand, then the entire process of creation is a futile attempt. Poetry is a magical, mysterious and unexplainable event but it is not something that cannot be comprehended without m the involvement of the reader.
Quoting Emily Dickinson, “This quiet dust was gentlemen and ladies”, he explains how the inclusion of two words gentlemen and ladies in the place of men and women creates magic and enhances the poetic quality. Further, he speaks about metaphors and why they are very important and an integral part of literature.
Borges is very confident that never ever in the future, books could/would be replaced by something else and the reason he quotes should be agreeable to everyone. He argues in a scientific way and feels that the other inventions of man are just an extension of the physical body. The telephone, an extension of our voice, telescope and microscope extensions of sight, sword and plough the extension of our hands, but it is only the book which is the extension of imagination and memory both abstract concepts which are not dependent on any external object.
Literature is a controlled dream and books are supposed to be the memories of all centuries, therefore irreplaceable and that is the main reason if books disappear, history would disappear. Indirectly he gives a hint that man will also disappear.
“I Believe That the Books Will Never Disappear” is a part of excerpts from “Twenty-Four Conversations with Borges”, interviews of Jorge Luis Borges by Roberto Alifano. Jorge Luis Borges is an Argentine short story writer, essayist, poet and translator. Here he talks about his early years of reading, his family, his blindness, books, poetry, metaphors and literature.
First Reading / on his mother
Borges proudly says that he was educated at his father‟s library where he first read Grimm‟s Fairy Tales. His mother, according to him, was an extraordinary person but he regrets having not been understanding of her. Besides, his mother was an intelligent and a gracious woman.
Blindness to Borges is a way of life. He calls it a resource and that all things have been given to us for a purpose. Humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments are given to us as raw materials so that we may shape our art.
On reading – books
Borges says that he still buys books. In every book he finds a need for something more. A book can be full of errors, but the book always retains something sacred, something mortal, something magical which brings happiness.
He believes that poetry is something so intimate, so essential that it cannot be defined without oversimplifying it. Poetry is the aesthetic act. It is the poetic act that takes place when the poet writes it and the reader reads it. Poetry is a magical, mysterious and inexplicable event.
Metaphors exist from the beginning of time. He seems to reduce all metaphors to five or six which are essential metaphors. They are: time and a river; life and dreams; death and sleep; stars and eyes; flowers and women.
On disappearance of books
will never disappear. He says that book is the most astounding of many human inventions. All the others are extensions of our body. Only the book is an extension of our imagination and memory.
He says that Literature is a dream, a controlled dream. Our past is a sequence of dreams. Books are the great memory of all centuries. He concludes that if books disappear, surely history would disappear, and surely man would disappear. Borges believes that modern developments in communications cannot replace books and that the books
I. Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each: –
1. What was the first literary reading of Borges?
Ans: Grimm’s Fairy Tales in an English Version.
2. Why do all children feel guilty when their mothers die?
Ans: All the children take their mothers for granted when they are around.
3. What is blindness to Borges?
Ans: It is a way of life.
4. Which library was burning in the dream of Borges?
Which library does Borges visualize in his dream?
Mention the name of the library which was attacked by countless volumes of flames in the dream of Borges?
Ans: The library of Alexandria.
5. What does the book always retain even if it is full of errors?
Ans: It retains something sacred and something mortal something magical.
6. When does the poetic act takes place, according to Borges?
Ans: When the poet writes poetry and a reader reads it.
7. When does the poet fail according to Borges?
Ans: When the reader doesn’t feel the poetic event upon reading it, it’s a failure on the part of the poet.
8. What is Borges’ belief about the task of the poet?
Ans: To discover metaphors.
9. Which is the most astounding invention of man according to Borges?
Ans: Invention of books.
10. What is considered as the extension of our voice?
Ans: The telephone.
11. What is considered as the extension of our sight?
Ans: Telescope and microscope.
12. What is considered as the extension of our arms?
Ans: The sword and the plough.
13. What is considered as the extension of our imagination and memory?
14. Whom does Borges consider as an”intelligent andgracious woman”?
Whom did Borges look upon as an intelligent and a gracious woman?
Ans: His mother–Dona Leonor.
15. Which is the example of precise words from the poem by Emily Dickinson, according to Borges?
15. When according to Borges, would history and man disappear?
Ans: With the disappearance of the books.
16. Where was Luis Borges educated?
Ans: He was educated in his father’s library.
17. When, according to Borges, would history and man disappear?
Ans: When books disappear / If books disappear.
II. Answer the following questions in a paragraph of 80 – 100 words each:
III. Answer the following questions in about 200 words:
1. What does Jorge Luis Borges say about poets and metaphors?
Ans: According to Jorge Luis Borges, poetry is an aesthetic act. It is not a group of words or symbols. The poetic act takes place when the poet uses the right words in the right place to bring out the feelings. A poet uses metaphors to make his description effective. Metaphors have existed from time immemorial. Borges says that a poet must discover more and more effective metaphors than that already exist. Borges tells us that poets should use the old metaphors well as people across all cultures are receptive to them. Poet is not just about discovering new metaphors. He feels metaphors like time and river, life and dreams, death and sleep make poetry magical and mysterious.
2. Why does Jorge Luis Borges think that book is the most astounding invention of man?
Ans: Borges, an Argentine writer and a scholar, is an ardent admirer of books and likes to spend most of his time either reading books or writing. Every book is sacred to him. Borges believes that books will never disappear. He feels that books are the most astounding invention. All other inventions are used to help our parts of the body whereas a book is an extension of our imagination and memory. He feels reading a book is dreaming and remembering the past. Books play an important role in the evolution of man. It is the best thing that could have happened to the mankind.
3. What, according to Borges, is the important factor that is necessary into the making of literary art?
Ans: According to Borges, there are many things which go into the making of literary art, including poetry. The poet has to use precise words to describe his emotions and what he wishes to convey. Only then, can he touch the chords of the reader’s heart. The poet may be describing common place ideas, but it is the use of certain words and phrases which give it a magical and poetic quality and transform the idea from a trivial to a mysterious and Divine form which captures the reader’s imagination. Borges quotes a wonderful line in a poem by Emily Dickinson which is a fine example to support his view on the importance of finding precise words in the art of poetry. “This quiet dust was gentlemen and ladies”, conveys the idea that we will all be dust one day which is a boring idea, but the use of the phrase “gentlemen and ladies”, gives it a poetic quality and lifts it out of the ordinary and elevates it to a different and sublime level of creativity. If she had written “men and women”, it would have failed as poetry; it would have been very ordinary.
4. What are Borges’s view on poetry?
Discuss Borges’s view on poetry and poem.
Define Borge’s definition of poetry.
Ans: Borges says that poetry is something so intimate, so essential that it cannot be defined without over simplifying it. It would be like attempting to describe the colour yellow, love and fall of leaves in the autumn. He believes that poetry is the aesthetic act; that poetry is not poem, for poem may be nothing more than a series of symbols. Poetry is the poetic act that takes place when the poet writes it, when the reader reads it and it always happens in a slightly different manner. According to Borges, poetry is magical, mysterious and unexplainable although not incomprehensible. If one does not feel the poetic event upon reading it, the poet has failed.
5. According to Borges, poetry is an aesthetic art. Explain.
Ans: In the opinion of Borges, a poem is a series of symbols. The poetic act takes place when the poet writes it, whenthe reader reads it, and it always happens in a slightly different manner. Poetry is a magical, mysterious and an unexplainable event. If this event is not felt, then, the poet has failed to convey his message. He feels that poetry is something which cannot be defined without oversimplifying it. He gives an example of Emily Dickinson’s poem in which the words have magical and poetic quality. Finding the precise words is important in the art or Poetry.
6. What values does Borges see in literature? Why is it important for the future of mankind?
Ans: Literature has its own value in our life because it describes what we are and what we have been and also what we will be. Borges says that our past is nothing that a sequence of dreams. He states that the books are the great memory of all centuries. They are a bridge between past, present and future. They transfer the information from one period to another. Therefore, he feels that if the book disappears, surely our history would disappear and man would disappear. In order to keep ourselves alive in future, we need to protect literature which mirrors ourlife.
7. Borges says that books will never disappear in spite of modern modes of communication. Explain.
In spite of modern modes of communication, Borges believes that books will not disappear Illustrate.
Why does Borges say that books will not disappear?
Ans: According to Borges, among the many inventions of man, the book is undoubtedly the most astounding of all. All others are extensions of our bodies. The telephone is the extension of our voice, the telescope and the microscope are extensions of our sight and the sword and the plough are extensions of our arms. Only the book is an extension of our imagination and memory. Modern modes in communications have not developed anything to work as a substitute for our imagination and memory.
8. How does Borges look upon his blindness? Explain
Ans: Though, Borges was blind, he took it positively. As an artist, he used it as a raw material for his creative art. He positively said that humiliations, misfortunes and embarrassments are the stepping stones to achieve success in life. His blindness was not an obstacle for him, and even though he was blind, he used to buy books and worked on them.
9. What are the views of Borges on blindness?
Ans: Borges accepted his blindness as a way of life. He was not unhappy, believed that his blindness is a resource and as an artist, he has used it as a raw material to shape his art. In his opinion, we should accept our humiliations, misfortunes and embarrassments and use them as raw materials for our future growth and prosperity. In Borges case, he prefers to believe that these raw materials help an artist to feel more intensely and to transform the miserable circumstances of our life into eternal works of art and thereby overcome them.
10. Why does Borges say that the books will not disappear in spite of modern modes of communication?
Ans: Borges was a great Argentine writer and a scholar. He has written a lot of short stories, essays and poems. He is an ardent admirer of books and likes to spend most of his time either reading books or writing. Every bookis sacred to him. The interviewer Alifano asks him if books would disappearas more and more technologicaldevices for communications are invented and used by people. To this Borges replies that he believes books willneverdisappear. He says book is the most astounding invention. All other inventions are used to helpour partsof the body whereas book is an extension of our imagination and memory. He feels reading a book is dreaming and remembering the past. If books disappear, history and surelyman will disappear. So he feels books will notdisappear.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:
Borges was educated by his father’s library
His mother Dona Leonor was an extraordinary person.
Borges became blind Blindness was a way of life and a resource
He suffered humiliation and embarrassment.
He wanted to write a history of book.
Poetry is intimate and essential It is the aesthetic act.
Book is the most astounding invention of man.
Only the book is man’s imagination and memory.
Borges believes that books would never disappear.
If books disappear, surely history and man woulddisappear.
Because books are the great memory of all centuries
Time and river, life and dreams, death and sleep, stars andeyes, flowers and women are the metaphors.
Luis Borges had a multifaceted personality
Educated from father‟s library
Great respect for mother
Feels guilty for not giving the deserved happiness to her
Blindness is a way of life Everything is given for a purpose
Humiliations, misfortunes and embarrassments as raw material Poetry an aesthetic
Poetry-magical, mysterious and unexplainable
Books are the extension of our imagination and memory