A few days ago (August 24th) marked 121 years since the birth of Jorge Luis Borges. I am currently researching a bit about his life, as one of my future projects would be to write a new book about Argentinean literature.

Of course, a lot has been written about Borges, and I’ve read a lot of it. My father is a great fan of Borges and we had all his books at home, plus many other books about him.

And yet, there are always some new things that you can discover about someone, especially in the case of a writer of such importance. One of the things I didn’t know so much about was the period of his youth and the several literary projects during his early 20s, which included a mural magazine called Prisma.

I am also rereading quite a lot of his work. Not only the short stories, but also some essays (although of course, for Borges there is not always a difference between both).

It is always better to read him in Spanish, if you can understand the language, but if not, there are quite a few translations to choose from. Which one is the best? It’s difficult to say. I prefer the earliest ones, but here there’s a more detailed article describing some of the differences in each version, as well as a discussion of Borges’ work with Norman Di Giovanni, the only translator with whom he directly collaborated.

Here there’s one of his last interviews, the day of his 85th birthday, still in Argentina (he would die less than two years later, in Geneva). He seems pretty cheerful.

A statue of Miguel de Cervantes in San Francisco has been vandalized by Antifa and BLM militants. It is not clear what did they have against the greatest Spanish writer. Maybe they confused him with someone else? Maybe they are just destroying all white people statues at this point?

The fact that Cervantes was taken as a slave by the Turks after the Battle of Lepanto, where he lost use of his left hand, only adds to the irony. If they are protesting against slavery, they took the wrong guy.

In any case, it is a worrying phenomenon. In fact, the whole thing about vandalizing statues and monuments strikes me as extremely negative, independently of whose statue it is. Because it is an attempt at destroying or negating the past. Of course, in same cases, such as the toppling of the statues of tyrants at the end of Communism or other tyrannical regimes, this may be understandable, but in general it is not an advisable policy.

Apparently, during the recent protests, some statues were first decapitated before they were taken down. Heinrich Heine once said something to the effect that “those who start by burning books end up burning people”. We may also assume that “those who start decapitating statues end up decapitating people”.

At least they didn’t topple it.