By- Angela Padrón

Jorge Luis Borges is referred to by some as the Father of Latin Literature, due to his writing style of magical realism, which combined nineteenth century techniques with twentieth century visions. Borges was born on August 24, 1899 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he wrote poems, essays, and short stories that are still considered classics today. Though Borges grew up in Argentina, his father, a teacher at an English school, taught him to speak and read in English before he learned Spanish. Borges was influenced early on by classic books found in his father’s library, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, novels written by H.G. Wells, The Thousand and One Nights, and Don Quixote.

In 1914, Borges and his family moved to Geneva, Switzerland. It was there that Borges learned the French and German languages. He also received a Bachelor’s degree from the Collège de Genève. He then moved to Spain in 1919, where he joined the Ultraism movement, which used unconventional free verse, symbolism, and imagery techniques. He returned to Buenos Aires in 1921 and introduced the Ultraism movement there. It was then that Borges began to write poems about the past and present of his home country. His first book, published in 1923, was called Fervor de Buenos Aires, poemas, which was a volume of poems about his hometown. In 1930, he published several essays, poems, and literary journals, along with a biography called Evaristo Carriego. In order to make ends meet, he took on a job in the main library of Buenos Aires, though he was not happy to do so.

The year 1938 was a tragic year for Borges. His father died and he himself suffered a massive head wound that led to blood poisoning, loss of speech, and nearly caused him to die. This brush with death sparked several years of imagination and creativity, however. In fact, during the next eight years, Borges wrote some of his best work, including a collection of fantastical stories called El Aleph in 1940. In 1942, he published Seis problemas para Don Isidro Parodi with another writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares. He also published a literary collection called Ficciones in 1944, the work for which he is best known.

In 1955, Borges became director of the national library and a professor of English and American literature at the University of Buenos Aires. Sadly, his eyesight had deteriorated by this time and he was no longer able to write long texts. His blindness did not completely stop him from sharing his ideas, however, and he went on to publish El hacedor (1960), El libro de los seres imaginarios (1967), a collection of stories called El informe de Brodie (1970), and El libro de arena (1975).

Borges became even better known in 1961, when he and Samuel Beckett were honored with the Formentor Prize, an international award presented to unpublished manuscripts. Soon Borges’s works were translated into English and became popular around the world. Borges died on June 14, 1986 in Switzerland, and will always be remembered as one of the most influential Latino writers of all time.

 

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