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julianmeynell

Julian Meynell's Books

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The Book of Sand & Shakespeare's Memory

The Book of Sand & Shakespeare's Memory - Jorge Luis Borges, Andrew Hurley I first read Borges about twenty five years ago, when I read the collection Labyrinths. That collection has stayed with me and I have thought about several of his stories many times over the years, but I never went on to read more, until this book.

This is a collection of short stories from the end of Borges life. Even though they were originally composed in two volumes the stories are very slight. They are very much old man stories, in that for almost all of them, one cannot imagine anyone, but an old man writing them. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but they have the feel of being written at the end of a life. Often wistful or concerning memory, they, as a group, look back. The tone is set by "The Other" in which Borhes meets his younger self in a dream. There is a lot of doubling in the stories, and memory, loss, wistfulness and acceptance are touched on again and again.

Interestingly, I discovered Lovecraft only relatively recently and there is an homage to Lovecraft here, what is most interesting is how similar they are as authors, even though they have two very different goals and fan bases.

In the end there is nothing here that is as good as the best of Borges' younger works, but the collection is still well worth reading. I don't see myself turning these stories over and over in my mind and it is a complement to Borges great works, but it is a good complement. To my mind, "Shakespeare's Memory" is the best of them, but even it would be put to shame by something like "Funes, The Memorious".

A good book for Borges fans, but not the place to start reading him.