Borges, a life

574 pages

English language

Published Jan. 12, 2004 by Viking.

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4 stars (1 review)

Edwin Williamson’s major new biography is the first in any language to encompass the entire span of Jorge Luis Borges’s life and work. Drawing upon previously unknown or unavailable sources, it brings out the human side of Borges: his roots in Argentina, the evolution of his political ideas, his relations with family and friends, the conflicts, desires, and obsessions that drove the man and shaped his work. Williamson’s definitive biography finally unlocks the mysteries that still surround the life of Borges, resulting in a compelling and poignant portrait that will radically transform established views of this modern master.

1 edition

Like a narrator for Borges' inner monologue

4 stars

The thing I found most enthralling about this biography of Borges, is also what gave me pause: the intense and assured focus on Borges' inner life and its influence on his writing. Williamson spins a compelling narrative about the how the traumas, and occasional triumphs, of Borges personal life were the driving force behind the triumphs, and occasional traumas, of his public life as an author, poet, and scholar. The book delves deep into the formative experiences of his life, from isolated in-home education and the wonder of his father's library, the pressure of his storied patrician familial background and his mother's expectations, to his struggle's with romantic love and his own insecurities about being worthy of it. Williamson's depiction of Borges channeling those feelings into writing is persuasive and effortless, almost always letting the actions and creative works speak for themselves in showing their relationship.

And yet...while I found …


  • Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899-
  • Authors, Argentine -- 20th century -- Biography