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the Complete Review
the complete review - auto/biographical

     

With Borges

by
Alberto Manguel


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase With Borges



Title: With Borges
Author: Alberto Manguel
Genre: Memoir
Written: (2004)
Length: 74 pages
Availability: With Borges - US
With Borges - UK
With Borges - Canada
With Borges - India
Chez Borges - France
Con Borges - Italia
Con Borges - España
  • First published in Canada in 2004 (by Thomas Allen), but previously published in French translation (as Chez Borges) in 2003 -- and in German translation (in Neue Rundschau) in 2002

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Our Assessment:

B+ : interesting and informative, but very slim

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Spectator . 7/6/2006 Malcolm Deas
TLS . 30/6/2006 Kapka Kassabova


  From the Reviews:
  • "Manguel gives in his small compass a lot of facts. (...) More novel and stimulating is the list of writers Borges had little time for: Jane Austen again, Goethe, Neruda, Tolstoy, García Márquez, Stendhal, Balzac, Proust, all Flaubert except the first chapter of Bouvard et Pécuchet. (...) There is quite a lot about Borges and food." - Malcolm Deas, The Spectator

  • "The narrative unfolds in two alternating planes of time: the past, when Manguel was an innocent witness of Borges's eccentricities, and the present, with its more considered analysis of Borges's library universe." - Kapka Kassabova, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       For four years in the 1960s Alberto Manguel was one of the many people who regularly read aloud to the by then blind Jorge Luis Borges. Manguel didn't take notes, and so he only offers more general memories of the time together and the books they read, but With Borges also looks at the larger Borges-picture, as Manguel sees it: his life, his books, his personality, his reputation.
       Instead of detail, Manguel offers generalizations and a variety of observations -- such as an explanation that Borges': "world was wholly verbal: music, colour and form rarely entered it."
       Or that:

Borges loved conversation and at meals would select what he called 'unobtrusive fare', such as white rice or pasta, so that the experience of eating would not distract him from the talk.
       Not surprisingly, Borges: "called himself above all a reader", and among the most interesting parts of this volume are the descriptions of Borges' bookish world -- his library, the books he read, the authors he didn't.
       Manguel drifts all about, but most of the material is certainly interesting. The shifts between first- and second-hand knowledge, however, pull the book a bit out of focus: this is Manguel's vision of Borges, and he's certainly entitled to relate whatever else he's heard about the man (since that obviously also shapes his own image of him), but a more intimate memoir would have felt more convincing.
       With Borges is a great introduction for those unfamiliar with Borges' life beyond his writings, but it very much leaves those that have read some of the secondary literature wishing for much more. Still, it's a pleasing and entertaining little volume.

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Links:

With Borges: Reviews: Jorge Luis Borges: Alberto Manguel: Other books by Alberto Manguel under review: Other Borges-related books under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Alberto Manguel was born in Argentina and now lives in France. He is a translator and critic.

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© 2008-2012 the complete review

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