Joyce Forever

This following paragraph is from the Preface that Borges wrote in the first volume of Pleiade series of Œuvres Complètes. Dated Geneva, 19 May 1986, this must be amongst the last texts that Borges wrote. I adore how Borges has discreetly slipped a simple tribute to Joyce into the Keats’ ‘joy for ever’ line. How many readers, I wonder, pass that sentence without spotting the reference.

This book is made up of other books. I am not sure whether a continuous reading is the best solution in this case, it might be more convenient to enter in and out at random as one leafs through the pages of an encyclopedia or of Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholia.(…) Eliot wrote that it is less important to know what one wants than what the century wants. He claims this, as if drunk on universal history. Is it necessary for me to say that I am the least historical of men? The circumstances of history touch me like those of geography and politics, but I thing that as an individual I am above these seductions. A thing of beauty is a joyce forever, John Keats wrote in a memorable way. There are nevertheless, moments of happiness that are singular and eternal.

9 thoughts on “Joyce Forever

  1. I’m not so sure he loved him. His remarks about Finnegans Wake were not of the laudatory kind, and I wonder if his praise of Ulysses wasn’t just a matter of going with the flow, everyone was doing it at the time, for the simple reason that he never attempted anything of the kind and favoured simple language, like Franz Kafka, of whom he did leave many instances of public affection. Furthermore, I’ve read practically all his non-fiction and I can’t recall anything about Dubliners or Portrait.


    • I stand corrected. Thanks, Miguel.

      I could find no references either to Dubliners or Portrait. His early enthusiasm for Ulysses faded, Borges showed some disdain for the novel, it’s explicatory guides, and the flimsy Homeric structure.

      Perhaps, after all, a typo slipped through. Ah well, pity, it was a nice thought.


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