"Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river;

it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire."

Happy birthday Jorge Luis Borges!

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Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899—June 14, 1986) was an Argentine author. He wrote short stories, poems, and essays in addition to curating several literary journals. Much of his most notable work is characterized by his embrace of the surreal and imaginary.

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Borges was raised in Palermo, a small town outside of Buenos Aires. His mother's family was Spanish, and had been actively involved in the colonization of South America. His father was Spanish, Portuguese and English, and therefore Borges was introduced to English early in his life.

He began writing early on, translating Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince for a local journal.

The Borges family left Argentina in 1914 and spent the following decade in Switzerland, including through World War I. After the war, Borges lived in several Spanish cities. During his time in Europe, Borges was exposed to many monumental literary movements, becoming a member of the avant-garde Ultraist movement himself. But in 1923, he decided to return to his native country, where he applied many of his Ultraist ideals to his budding writing career.

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Back in Buenos Aires, Borges established the literary journals Prisma and Proa, and contributed poems to the journal Martín Fierro. He published his first book of poems in 1923, called Fervor of Buenos Aires. Alongside other Argentine writers like Juan Rulfo, Juan José Arreola, and Alejo Carpentier, Borges began to explore surreal, imaginary, and existential themes, especially by the 1930s.

By 1933, Borges held an editorial appointment at the publication Crítica, which is where he first published the pieces that would later be collected as Historia Universal de la Infamia (A Universal History of Infamy, 1935). In the latter half of the decade, he worked as literary advisor for the publishing house Emecé Editores.

In 1938, Borges' father died and he later suffered a head injury. Following the incident, he began writing "Pierre Menard, Author of The Quixote," which dealt with the nature of authorship.

In 1941, Borges published his first collection of short stories, titled El Jardín de Senderos Que Se Bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths).

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Borges suffered the same eye condition his father had had, which caused him to begin to lose his eyesight by his thirties. Withdrawing from writing, Borges took on a career as a public figure in the roles of President of the Argentine Society of Writers and as a Professor of English and American Literature at the Argentine Association of English Culture.

Borges was staunchly anti-Perón and he was subject to scrutiny by the government. On some occasions, his family was even harassed. During World War II, he was accused by Argentine Nazi-sympathizers to be secretly Jewish. He denounced these claims, though not before saying that he would be proud to be Jewish and that any "pure" Castilian is descended from the Jews.

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Some of the many awards Borges received include the National Prize for Literature from the University of Cuyo in 1957, the first Prix International in 1961, a special Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America "for distinguished contribution to the mystery genre" in 1976, the Balzan prize, the Cervantes Prize, and the French Legion of Honor in 1983.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 24 August 2014
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