I was just thinking about If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler in another thread and realized that these guys don’t receive enough love. Come, all ye metalit wonks, and adore and lavish with praise.
Things I wuv the mostest.
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
I love’s ‘If on a winter’s’ but I never got into ‘Invisible Cities’ as much. Borges, OTOH, is just routinely incredibly wonderful. I was lost in Nimes once and turned onto the ‘Rue de Menard’ and had to stop and take a photo of the street sign in honour of Borges’ story, ‘Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote’. I am also a huge fan of ‘The Circular Ruins’ and ‘The Library of Babel’. But really anything of his is worth reading, I agree.
This reminds me, I seem to have misplaced my copy of Ficciones. I shall have to track it down…
I’ve read more of Borges than I have of Calvino, but I love them both. My favorite Calvino is Invisible Cities, which I had to read for a History of Cities class and we didn’t know til we read it that the professor assigned it not because it had anything to do with the history of cities but just because he liked it. However, I did too so I didn’t mind.
My favorite Borges stories are The Library at Babel and The Immortal. In Library, I remember being struck with the love and detail with which he described colors and lights, almost as if he were describing them to a blind person who had never seen them. I didn’t know at the time that Borges was blind by the time he wrote that.
Speaking of Eco, his blind librarian character in Name of the Rose, even though he’s a villain, is an homage to Borges, whom Eco studied under and worshiped. (Borges was the National Librarian of Argentina, their equivalent of Librarian of Congress, for much of his later life, after the Perons [whom he hated and vice versa] were out of power.)
I’ve always loved Borges’ “Death and the Compass” from Labyrinths, because unlike his more completely bonkers stories (Uqbar, etc.), it plays out almost like a straight Hammett or Chandler story until the BAZOING Borgesian twist at the end.
If anyone hasn’t read Nabokov’s Ada, I highly recommend it to Borges and Calvino lovers. It’s almost like “Uqbar” if someone extended the story to novel-length.
I generally prefer Borges to Calvino, but, since it tends to get overshadowed by his later stuff, I’ll take the opportunity to highlight the latter’s The Path to the Spider’s Nest, based on his experiences fighting with anti-Fascist partisans in Liguria during WWII. Feels very much like the contemporary literary equivalent of Italian neorealist cinema.
My senior year high school english teacher introduced me to Calvino. I’ve read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler and Cosmicomics, and I loved both thoroughly. To me they represent the sort of powerful dynamism of which the English language is capable. They are an ebullient romp through narrative thought and a frantically controlled burst of reason.
Never heard of Borges though. What’s he like compared to Calvino?
I really like Calvino; most of the ones mentioned but also the omnibus with The Baron in the Trees, The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount.
I recently picked up a little book by Benjamin Rosenbaum called Other Cities, which is like a few extra chapters of Invisible Cities. Shame it was only 40 pages, or so… The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin might also appeal.