Magical Realist Biographies: Italo Calvino


Born:  15 October 1923

Died:   19 September 1985

Little known facts:

The first thing Calvino ever published was a drawing that appeared in a magazine published by a drawing correspondence school; he was their youngest pupil at eleven years old.

The dense forests and abundant fauna in Calvino’s early fictionderived from a small working farm on which his father pioneered the cultivation of what were then exotic fruits.


Much better known facts:

Italo Calvino was born in Santiago de Las Vegas, a suburb of Havana, Cuba in 1923, the son of two Italian agronomists.

Calvino’s mother encouraged both Italo and his younger brother to join the Garibaldi Brigades, a clandestine Communist group fighting the Germans in WWII.


Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and a writer of short stories and novels, best known for his trilogy Our Ancestors (1952–1959), his collection of short stories Cosmicomics (1965), and novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979). While Invisible Cities, a collection of poems in prose, was more successful in literary circles, Italian Folktales was a public success in the U.S. where his image has been that of a writer of tales and fantasy.

Two years after Calvino’s birth, his family returned to Italy, settling in San Remo on the Ligurian Coast where his father directed an experimental floriculture station. They also had a country house in the hills, where Calvino’s father actually developed the techniques for growing grapefruit and avocados. In that environment, Italo admired Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and developed early interests in drawing and in stories—much to the dismay of the two scientists who had brought him into the world.

Italo studied in San Remo and enrolled in the agriculture department of the University of Turin to satisfy his parents. Calvino transferred to the University of Florence in 1943 and reluctantly passed three more exams in agriculture. By the end of the year, the Germans had occupied Liguria. At twenty years old, Calvino refused military service and went into hiding. He reasoned that, of all the partisan groups, the communists were the best organized, and in the spring of 1944, he joined the Garibaldi Brigades, fighting in the Maritime Alps until 1945. Years later, he said politics was necessarily the first phase of his adult life and it held great importance for him because of the traumas involved in surviving the German occupation.

After the war, Calvino began writing about his wartime experiences. He published his first stories after resuming his studies and shifting his focus from agriculture to literature. During this period, he wrote his first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders and had already started working for his publisher while he finished his degree.

In this postwar period Calvino joined the Italian Communist Party but soon began to feel increasingly that “the idea of constructing a true democracy in Italy using the model—or myth—of Russia became harder and harder to reconcile.”

In 1952 he produced a novella, The Cloven Viscount that appeared in a series of books by emerging writers called Tokens. Reviewers outside the Party had praise for the work, but his departure from his initial realist style garnered criticism from within the Party. He resigned from the Party in 1956 when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary.

Calvino published a collection of Italian folktales in 1956 and the next year brought out The Baron in the Trees. In 1959 he published The Nonexistent Knight. These two combined with The Cloven Viscount are found today in the volume Our Ancestors. In 1965 he published Cosmicomics, and in 1979 he published his novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. The last works published in his lifetime were a novel Mr. Palomar (1983) and a collection of stories Difficult Loves (1984).

The range of Calvino’s literary production displayed a highly versatile capability to write as a neo-realist and to transition to post-modernist with varying degrees of movement through fabulism to fantasy. He became a well-respected post modernist, declaring that his central theme was the “conflict between the world’s choices and man’s obsession with making sense of them.”

One of his better examples anthologized in English is “The Distance of the Moon.” It is a tale that begins with a premise that a theory about the Earth and the Moon once being very close (attributable to British astronomer and geophysicist George H. Darwin) was in fact true many years ago. The fantastic component involves the people existing at the time, complete with economic motives and organization, with longings for people and things (many unattainable), and choices that had to be made by them as they recognized the Moon was easing away from the Earth. The narrator was a participant and is still trying to make sense of the choices people made at the time. Besides that set of considerations, the reader will find the source of the title of The Moon Milk Review—the predecessor to The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review.

In a collection of his published and unpublished essays produced after his death and at the close of the century, the frame for his major body of work is partially revealed in the discussion of his admiration and his debt to Jorge Luis Borges. Calvino’s initial affinity for Borges centered on the notion that literature is a world rendered and governed by intellect that should “provide us with the equivalent of the chaotic flow of existence, in language, in the texture of the events narrated, in the exploration of the subconscious”—located exactly in the heart of the fin d’ siècle emphasis in art, literature, and science emanating from Vienna into the Western world as detailed by Kandel in The Age of Insight.

Calvino explains “the Borgesian continuity between historical events, literary epics, poetic transformation of events, the power of literary motifs, and their influence on the collective imagination.” However, he points out that within this construct, we must keep in mind “it is in the rapid instant of real life, not in the fluctuating time of dreams, not in the cyclical or eternal time of myths, that one’s fate is decided.” He says the real impact of a literary piece or tradition is on the collective imagination that resides in the subconscious and the conscious mind—for an individual to draw from when looking for a code or a standard by which to make decisions.

During the summer of 1985, Calvino developed a series of notes on literature for the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University in the fall of that year. However, Calvino was admitted to the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena on 6 September, where he died during the night of the 18th of a cerebral hemorrhage. His Harvard lecture notes were published posthumously in Italian in 1988 and in English (as Six Memos for the Next Millennium) in 1993.

His American reputation began when Gore Vidal described all of his novels as of May 30, 1974 in The New York Review of Books. He was the most-translated contemporary Italian writer at the time of his death, and a celebrated contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.



“Only a certain prosaic solidity can give birth to creativity: fantasy is like jam; you have to spread it on a solid slice of bread. If not, it remains a shapeless thing, like jam, out of which you can’t make anything.” — From an Italian television interview shown after his death, quoted by Gore Vidal

“The contradiction [trying to use Russian model to reshape Italy] grew to such an extent that I felt totally cut off from the communist world and, in the end, from politics. That was fortunate. The idea of putting literature in second place, after politics, is an enormous mistake, because politics almost never achieves its ideals.”



He has a scientist’s respect for data (the opposite of the surrealist or fantasist). He wants us to see not only what he sees but what we may have missed by not looking with sufficient attention.” — Gore Vidal

“Calvino was a genial as well as brilliant writer. He took fiction into new places where it had never been before, and back into the fabulous and ancient sources of narrative.” — John Updike



The Baron in the Trees(1957), Invisible Cities (1974), If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979), Six Memos for the Next Millennium (posthumously)



Asti Prize 1970

Feltrinelli Prize 1972

Honorary Member of the American Academy 1975

Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1976

French Légion d’honneur 1981



Italo Calvino. Difficult Loves (trans. William Weaver). San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1958.

Italo Calvino. Why Read the Classics? (trans. Martin McLaughlin). New York: Pantheon Books, 1999.

Gore Vidal. “On Italo Calvino,” The New York Review of Books, November 21, 1985

Italo Calvino, The Art of Fiction No. 130 Interviewed by William Weaver, Damien Pettigrew

Eric R. Kandel. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain From Vienna 1900 to the Present. New York: Random House, 2012.


Richard Perkins is a regular contributor to The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review and a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program. He is writing an historical novel and revising a collection of connected stories.



Magical Realist Biographies: Gabriel Garc

Magical Realist Biographies: Gabriel Garc

Born: 6 March 1927
Died: 17 April 2014

Little known facts:
Gabriel García Márquez developed his extraordinary premise for his novel Love in the Time of Cholera by adapting the actual tragic comedy of his maternal grandparents’ attempts to discourage the intense courtship of his mother by his father.

His mother’s father explained to him there was no greater burden than to have killed a man, demonstrated early on in One Hundred Years of Solitude when José Arcadio Buendía leaves town with his family and friends after having killed a man.

Much better known facts:
He was known affectionately as “Gabo” throughout Latin America.

Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo—inspired by Aracataca where he was born and raised until he was eight—that provides the location for multiple large-scale magical realist clashes of cultures and civilizations.

García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Gabriel García Márquez was one of the great writers in Western literature in the Twentieth Century and perhaps the most celebrated writer of Magical Realism of his time. He often declared he was a journalist who also wrote fiction and, as a consequence, he saw reality as his central theme. In his fiction, Marquez avoided easily discernable plot structures and forced his readers to actively engage in order to derive essential details because, like the dramas of Sophocles whom Gabo admired, much of the action happened off stage. His fiction probes the themes of the violent realities of Colombian history—particularly the War of a Thousand Days (1899-1902) and the Banana Massacre of 1928 that his grandfather experienced and La Violencia (1946-1958) that he experienced—and various forms of solitude found in geographical, political, social, and individual isolation. Solitude was the theme in his acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize, entitled “Solitude of Latin America” and is quoted in part below.

García Márquez said that his early works (that he called a kind of premeditated literature) reflected the reality of life in Colombia and provides the rational structure of his books, though in retrospect he declares it “too static and exclusive a vision of reality.” His later work shows experimentation with alternative means of reflecting and re-reflecting reality, drawing on a story telling style his maternal grandmother used to describe bizarre details “with the deadpan expression.” He is universally recognized as one of the four leaders of the Latin American Boom along with Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, and Mario Vargas Llosa. He consistently acknowledged his debts to precursors like Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Arturo Uslar Pietri and Alejo Carpentier, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Juan Rulfo.

Gabriel was born in Aracataca in coastal Northern Colombia. His father had dropped out of medical school, had very Conservative views, and had four children out of wedlock before the courtship began. His mother’s father, a Liberal veteran of the War of a Thousand Days was a retired colonel who had actively interfered with Garcia’s father’s courtship of his mother as alluded to above. Despite his profile, his father’s persistence eventually wore down the colonel’s objections and the marriage was allowed, resulting soon afterward in the birth of Gabriel—the first of twelve children.

Gabo lived with his maternal grandparents in Aracataca until he was eight. His grandmother provided him with a deep background of folkloric knowledge including omens, premonitions, dead ancestors, and ghosts—most of which his grandfather dismissed as “women’s talk.” However, the sincere manner in which she told her stories had a lasting effect on the mature writings of García Márquez who used that deadpan style thirty years later in the crafting of his most acclaimed novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

When his grandfather died in 1936, Gabriel was returned to the custody of his parents for a short time before being sent to boarding school. Then the Jesuit Liceo Nacional, in the city of Zipaquira near Bogotá, gave García Márquez a scholarship when he was fourteen. He graduated from that secondary school in 1946, intending to prepare for a career in journalism. However, his family insisted Gabriel study law at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá instead. Marquez detested this prescribed field of study and invested himself in writing. In 1947, the literary supplement of El Espectador published one of Marquez’s short stories—the first of ten they would print.

In 1948, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan Ayala, a prominent Colombian Liberal Party member, was assassinated, prompting a decade long period known as La Violencia, engulfing every Colombian, taking the lives of over two hundred thousand, and leading to the departure of over one million Colombians to neighboring countries. In the second year of the conflict, the National University of Colombia closed and García Márquez relocated to the University of Cartagena, continuing his legal studies, writing pieces of journalism, but never completing his degree.

In 1950, Gabriel García Márquez relocated to Barranquilla where he wrote columns for the daily El Heraldo. He lived in a small room in a four-story brothel and consumed literature that inspired his later work: Virginia Woolf, Sophocles, William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. He wrote his first novella and later revised it as La Hojarasca or The Leaf Storm. In 1955, friends found the manuscript and had it published. That first novella echoed William Faulkner’s gothic tone and complex structure, and it was his first use of the village of Macondo.
García Marquez returned to Bogotá in 1954 and found a position at El Espectador as a reporter and film reviewer. Not long afterward, his work exposed government ineptitude and corruption including the wreck of a ship, irritating the Colombian dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. (In 1989, this story was published in English as The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor.) El Espectador, fearing backlash from the government, sent García Márquez to Europe as a foreign correspondent. While Gabo was in Europe, the government closed El Espectador, pushing him into poverty conditions far from home. Even so, while working days at a survival level, he still spent his nights writing fiction.

In 1957, Gabriel García Márquez finished writing El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba or No One Writes to the Colonel. He then relocated to Caracas and found work at the magazine Momento.

In 1958, he married Mercedes Barcha Pardo in Barranquilla and left immediately to return to Caracas with his bride. Their first son was born in 1959.

In 1959, García Márquez founded a Bogotá branch of the Cuban press agency Prensa Latina and in 1961, he moved to New York City to work in the Prensa Latina office there. That same year, he traveled to New Orleans and then moved his young family to Mexico City. In Mexico City, he worked as a screenwriter while working on his novels. The newly established Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency recruited Gabo in 1967 to be the Latin American Editor, but soon after the agreement, he arrived at the major inflection point of his life before he could take that position.

In January of 1965, Gabo had been driving his family to Acapulco from Mexico City, turning over in his head a book he had been trying to write about Aracataca—as Macondo. It suddenly struck him that he had to tell the story of Macondo in the same tone with which his grandmother had told him stories. He stopped the car and turned around, postponing the family vacation and going home to isolate himself for the next year and a half writing the story of Macondo while his wife managed the household, kept him fed, and sold belongings to buy him the paper and ink he needed. They had to borrow the money for the postage needed for mailing the final chapters to the publisher in Argentina. That is the scenario played out in generation after generation in Macondo within the Buendía Family in One Hundred Years—a visionary pursuing something elusive backed up by the committed realist who loves him or her in spite of the stumbles along the way.

Then in 1967, that Editorial Sudamericana in Buenos Aires, Argentina, published One Hundred Years of Solitude. It was immediately successful, selling all 8000 copies in a week and one half million in the next three years and leading to international prizes including the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Italian Premio Chianciano, the American Neustadt Prize, and Venezuelan Romulo Gallegos Prize. At the time of his passing, there had been 50 million copies sold in 25 languages.

Gabriel García Márquez moved his family to Barcelona, Spain, continued to write, and by 1973, returned to political activism. He supported many left wing causes in Latin America and, in the process, realigned himself with the Communist Cuban government. This resulted in the United States Department of State preventing him from entering United States without special permission.

García Márquez returned to Columbia in 1974 and created the newspaper Alternativa in Bogotá. He published the novel The Autumn of the Patriarch about a dictator ruthlessly holding on to power in a Caribbean nation.

When Belisario Betencur became the president of Colombia, he asked Garcia Marquez to return and offered him several political appointments, all of which were rejected. He did return home and continued to consider himself a journalist who wrote fiction. To reinforce that, he created the Foundation for a New Ibero-American Journalism in Cartagena, which received UNESCO funds for helping young journalists learn the craft of journalism.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s literary and journalistic work declined after he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1999. He passed away at his home in Mexico City in April of 2014. By all accounts, he still saw his work as part of a tradition of Latin American literature and considered his Nobel Prize to be a late acknowledgement of the greatness of Latin American literature.


“My grandfather the Colonel was a Liberal. My political ideas probably came from him to begin with because, instead of telling me fairy tales when I was young, he would regale me with horrifying accounts of the last civil war that free-thinkers and anti-clerics waged against the Conservative government.”

“Most critics don’t realize that a novel like One Hundred Years of Solitude is a bit of a joke, full of signals to close friends; and so, with some pre-ordained right to pontificate they take on the responsibility of decoding the book and risk making terrible fools of themselves.”

“The country that could be formed of all the exiles and forced emigrants of Latin America
would have a population larger than that of Norway.

I dare to think that it is this outsized reality, and not just its literary expression, that has deserved the attention of the Swedish Academy of Letters. A reality not of paper, but one that lives within us and determines each instant of our countless daily deaths, and that nourishes a source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune.”


Carlos Fuentes, Mexico’s greatest novelist, claimed that Gabriel García Márquez was “the most popular and perhaps best writer in Spanish since [Miguel de] Cervantes.”

“He writes with impassioned control, out of a maniacal serenity: the Garcíamárquesian voice we have come to recognize from the other fiction has matured, found and developed new resources, been brought to a level where it can at once be classical and familiar, opalescent and pure, able to praise and curse, laugh and cry, fabulate and sing and when called upon, take off and soar . . .” — NYT April 10, 1988

Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, described him as the “the greatest Colombian who ever lived” just after his death in April 2014 as reported by BBC.


The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor (1954), No One Writes to the Colonel (1957), One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975), Love in the Time of Cholera (1985)


1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature
1982 Nobel Prize in Literature
French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger
Italian Premio Chianciano
American Neustadt Prize
Venezuelan Romulo Gallegos Prize



“A Review of Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera,” The New York Times, 10 April 1988.

Nobel Lectures, Literature 1981-1990, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Sture Allén, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1993.


Richard Perkins is a regular contributor to The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review and a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program. He is researching the background for an historical novel set in Colombia between the world wars not very far from Macondo.


Magical Realist Biographies: Jorge Luis Borges


Born:  August 24, 1899

Died:   June 14, 1986

A little known fact:

Jorge Luis Borges supported the purging of Peronists from the government and the dismantlement of the former President’s welfare state after the overthrow of President Perón in 1955. He sharply criticized the Communists for opposing these measures in lectures and in print—and this opposition to the Party led to the loss of his longtime love interest, Argentine Communist Estela Canto.

A much better known fact:

Juan Perón began transforming Argentina and ideological critics were dismissed from government positions in 1946. Authorities informed Borges that he was being “promoted” from his position at the Miguel Cané Library to inspector of poultry and rabbits at the municipal market, explaining, “Well, you were on the side of the Allies, what do you expect?”  Borges resigned from his government post the following day.


Jorge Luis Borges’s most well-known books, Fictions (1944) and The Aleph (1949) are connected short story collections with multiple themes, ranging from dreams, labyrinths, fictional writers, philosophy, religion, God and infinity. He also contributed to philosophical literature, the fantasy genre, magical realism genre, poetry, and was a prolific essayist. On Writing is a recent collection of his best essays, reviews, articles, prologues, and capsule biographies.


The Borges family educated Jorge at home in Buenos Aires until the age of eleven in a bilingual environment in Spanish and English. His father gave up practicing law due to failing eyesight, and in 1914, moved to Geneva, Switzerland for treatment. Jorge earned his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918 and the family lived the next three years in Lugano, Barcelona, Majorca, Seville, and Madrid.


Borges began his literary career in 1921 when he collaborated with fellow poets on “Ultra Manifesto” in which they advocated a new poetic movement in Spain—the avant-garde, anti-Modernist Ultraist literary movement.


On returning to Argentina in 1921, Borges published his poems and essays in surrealist literary journals. From 1924 to 1933 he was very prolific and he founded several literary magazines. The editor of On Writing believes that the earliest reflection of his mode of story telling (ultimately labeled “magical realism”) was in his explanation of the interweaving of the marvelous with the everyday in “Stories from Turkestan” written in 1926.


At that time, he also began several important friendships with women:  Norah Lange, Victoria Ocampo, and Elsa Astete. Norah Lange was the darling of the Buenos Aires avant-garde; her home became the center of weekend literary salon. Borges was fond of Norah, but she took an interest in a literary rival of his and broke his heart for a time. Victoria Ocampo, was a writer, editor, and translator who promoted Borges’s writing through Sur, a literary magazine she founded in 1930. Elsa Astete was a 20-year old whom Borges met in 1928 and she engaged in a brief romance with Borges before suddenly marrying another man. Forty years later, however, Elsa Astete Millán became Borges’s first wife.


Borges was unable to support himself as a writer when his own vision began to fail in his early thirties. So, he began a career as a public lecturer and put political essays behind him for a while. His writing took new directions both in topics and his fundamental style.  He published another collection of essays, Discusión, in 1932 about a more recent, non-literary passion–the magical realm of cinema. 


His first short story was “Streetcorner Man,” inspired by the death of a compadrito and rendered with descriptive, gritty realism with a twist at the end. He published it under the pseudonym of “Francisco Bustos,”one of his ancestors, and the story was a tremendous success—much to his surprise and puzzlement for years afterward.  


In 1933 Borges began a series of sketches published together in 1935 as A Universal History of Infamy, taking characters and concepts from other published works and “re-inventing” them.  He blended fact and fiction, created mythical resonance, and created in many of the stories a surrealistic authenticity. Years later Latin American “magical realists” would cite Borges as the central inspiration for their work. However, in 1935 he was really only beginning the heart of his career when he wrote the prototype “Borgesian” story, “The Approach to al-Mu’tasim,” a review of a fictional novel. Today, literary critics such as Harold Bloom often characterize stories as either Chekovian or Borgesian. And Borges would explain the difference in terms of their views of causality.


Borges’ ailing father became completely dependent on his mother and Borges needed to find a source of steady income. So, in 1937 he found the position already alluded to as First Assistant in the Miguel Cané Branch of the Municipal Library, classifying and cataloging the library’s holdings—included some of his own work.  In 1938 he had a minor accident, sustaining a wound that ultimately became infected; he became ill and hallucinated for a week. Then, after an operation in the hospital, he developed septicemia and slipped between life and death for a month.


After those episodes, Borges’s stories increasingly mixed philosophy, fact, fantasy and mystery and he began to write political articles again—not supporting a single political system. He criticized broad trends of the age:  Anti-Semitism, Nazism, and fascism—and that caused him serious concerns when fascists came to power in the forties.


Being fired from his library post in 1946 proved to be a blessing because that situation forced him to find a position as a lecturer on American and English literature, traveling across Argentina and Uruguay. He was paid much better and he adapted well to the new life style well—though he could not conceal his disappointment in the direction taken by his country.


Then in 1955 he was appointed to serve as director of the National Public Library.  His stoicism was as resonant as his stories:  “I speak of God’s splendid irony in granting me at one time 800,000 books and darkness.” He was determined to make the library into a cultural center, starting a program of lectures and resurrecting the library’s journal. The following year he was appointed to the professorship of English and American Literature at the University of Buenos Aires.


He was completely blind by his late fifties and he never learned braille. Scholars have suggested that as a result of his progressive blindness, he was prompted to create innovative literary symbols through his imagination.


In 1961 Borges earned international stature when he received the Prix International that he had to share with Samuel Beckett that year. His international standing was greatly strengthened later in the 1960s because his works became available in English and because of the Latin American Boom in literature that attended the success of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.


Borges was a political conservative who dismissed Marxism and who also rejected the politics of cultural identity that was popular in Latin America for some time. As a universalist interested in world literature, he found himself totally out of step with Peronist Populist nationalism.  


When Borges traveled internationally, his personal assistant, María Kodama, a former student, often accompanied him. In April 1986, a few months before he died of liver cancer in Geneva, he married her via an attorney in Paraguay—a common practice of Argentines circumventing the Argentine laws regarding divorce. As his widow and heir, she gained control over his work and her administration of his estate resulted in commissioning of new translations by Andrew Hurley that have become the standard translations in English.


The philosophical term “Borgesian Conundrum” is the ontological question of “whether the writer writes the story, or it writes him.” Borges, in “Kafka and His Precursors,” posed this when he wrote about works written before Kafka’s:


“In the critics’ vocabulary, the word ‘precursor’ is indispensable, but it should be cleansed of all connotation of polemics or rivalry. The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.”


Looking back, the critic Ángel Flores, “the first to use the term magical realism” for literature in 1955 (art critic Franz Roh used the phrase in 1925), calls the beginning of the movement the release of Borges’s A Universal History of Infamy in 1935. It is likely that Flores means the magical realism movement in Latin America since Kafka is central to the formulation of the Borgesian Conundrum and is referenced explicitly by several of the five leading novelists in the Latin American Boom while acknowledging their debt to Borges.



“If I were asked to name the chief event in my life, I should say my father’s library.”


“To be in love is to create a religion whose god is fallible.”


“Not granting me the Nobel Prize has become a Scandinavian tradition.”



Fictions (1944), The Aleph (1949), Labyrinths (1962); Movies:  Invasión (1969), The Spider’s Stratagem (1970), The Others (1974)



Prix International (1961)

Jerusalem Prize (1971)

Edgar Allan Poe Award (Mystery Writers of America, 1976)

Balzan Prize (Philology, Linguistics and literary Criticism, 1980)

Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca (1980)

Miguel de Cervantes Prize (1980)

Legion of Honor (France, 1983)




Jorge Luis Borges.  The Aleph and Other Stories 1933-1969.  New York:  E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1970.

Andrew Hurley (trans).  Jorge Luis Borges:  Collected Fictions.

Suzanne Jill Levine (ed.) Jorge Luis Borges:  On Writing.  New York:  Penguin Books, 2010.

Edwin Williamson. Borges: A Life. New York: Viking, 2004.


Richard Perkins is a recent graduate of the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program.  He is working on an historical novel and is revising a collection of connected stories and a novella.