Sunday, October 12, 2008

BORGES AND PUSHKIN by Manuel Lasso








The last time I spoke with Jorge Luis Borges was at the Chapel of la Madonna della Strada, at the University of Loyola, by the shore of the Lake Michigan, a few months before his demise.
He was very advanced on his evolution, so he had to be carried to the podium and within that diverse audience he seemed like a honorable Ancient. He had the appearance of a gentleman of the beginning of the XX century and because of that reason he reminded me of my grandfather Nicanor, who used the same hair style and the same necktie, as it was the fashion during those times. Even his colloquial expressions seemed similar to the ones I had observed on my ancestor.
I remember with unusual clearness the greeting he gave to one of the attendees. So lucid is that reminiscence that it seems to me that I am listening to him at this moment, smiling and holding the handle of his bright cane.
"How well we are doing, aren't we?"
I made all possible efforts to be near him because I knew there would not be another chance. I remember him talking about "The sound and the fury" which for some unknown reason seemed to be of his liking. However, what I remember most is the answer he gave to one of the students.
"Borges, what advice can you give to the young students?"
With a fragile and soft voice, he answered:
"The same advice my father gave me: Don't rush for publication. You may die by the print."
Some time afterwards, perhaps several years later, when I was reading a short story by Pushkin, I had the sensation of perceiving Borges style. It seemed incredible to pore over the lines of Pushkin and have the impresion that I was reading Borges. Undoubtedly that was something impossible, because Aleksander Pushkin was born a hundred years earlier, in 1799 and died in a duel, still young, in 1837. Therefore it had to be the reverse. When I was reading Borges I had to have the sensation of reading Pushkin.
Jorge Luis Borges always considered the Russian poet as one of the authors who had influenced on his artistic development.
We invite you now to read the short story "The shot"
http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/TheShot.htm
which produced on me such a memorable effect.

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