Reading Borges after a long break elicits a reaction similar to sinking into a bath set to your just-perfect temperature. What better than A Perfect Anthology where Borges “has put together those pieces on which he would like his reputation to rest.”
Old favourite The South is here, an exquisite miniature where Borges squeezes more depth into eight pages than many novels. The fate of Juan Dahlmann is as refreshing as every time I read this story. Within paragraphs I am transported to Buenos Aires; can smell the eucalyptus and cloves; feel the dry heat; sense the menace of the remote general store.
It is reading Borges (and Nabokov) where time is most easily suspended. An hour spent slowly savouring The South, sentence by sentence, passes in moments. To steal a couple of lines from Borges’s poem A Page to Commemorate Colonel Suárez, Victor at Junín:
What matters the flow of time, if he knew
that fullness, that ecstasy, that afternoon?