Borges manuscript goes on view in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA- A manuscript of Jorge Luis Borges' celebrated short story "The Library of Babel" has gone on display in Argentina's National Library for the first time, its director said Wednesday.
The document came to light 10 days ago in Sao Paulo, Brazil where Argentinian library director Alberto Manguel said he retrieved it from among a private collector's hoard of papers, paintings, photographs, maps and letters from the likes of South American independence hero Jose de San Martin.

"I was surprised that, in a grimy folder, something of so much value would appear. My voice quavered, it was very emotional," Manguel told reporters.
Written in a tiny script, the manuscript is now on loan to the National Library from the collector, Pedro Aranha do Lago.
Borges, who went blind later in life, is considered Argentina's greatest writer and a towering figure of 20th century literature, best known for poetic, puzzle-like short stories that explore a world of dreams, philosophy and religion.
"The Library of Babel" was first published in Spanish in 1941 in the short story collection "The Garden of the Forking Paths." In 1944, it was included in the famed story collection "Ficciones," which established the blind Argentine's international reputation.
As a metaphor for an infinite universe, the story describes a vast library containing every book that has been written or could be written using every permutation of 25 characters.
Borges (1899-1986) was himself a librarian by profession and directed the National Library from 1955 to 1973, resigning when Juan Domingo Peron was re-elected president.
Manguel called the manuscript, estimated to be worth $500,000, "an authentic treasure."
"These papers have undeniable material value and a symbolic value as well. There are few elements that make up universal symbols, and we owe one of these elements to Borges: the concept of a library of Babel, which today we associate with the internet."

Thursday, September 15th 2016

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