Borges and I
by Jorge Luis Borges
“Borges and I” is technically a short, narrative poem, rather than a short story, but it is often included in short story anthologies, so I’ve added it here. Struggling to find another short story that started with or had “I” in the title certainly didn’t influence this decision at all.
In the story, the first person narrator considers his relationship with ‘the other,’ Borges. He laments his inevitable destruction, but has seemingly come to terms with living on, and being expressed through Borges. The most common interpretation of this piece is as a self reflection on the harmonization and separation of the public and the private self. As artists we all have to be conscious of the strange relationship that these two have. We cannot write true to ourselves without our private lives, but we don’t want it to leak too much, or perhaps too openly into our public, professional lives. This poem then, is a bit of a reconciliation, and concession of private values toward the advancement of a public, professional facade.
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges was born on August 24, 1899 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His family was relatively well off, with military roots that Borges felt ashamed for not having ambitions for himself. Borges’s passions were always books. He began translating at the age of nine and cites his biggest literary influence as his father’s extensive library. He spent his teen years with his family in Spain, waiting out the political unrest in Argentina, and there began his writing career. Borges’s writing has always had a touch of existentialism, of self-reflection and surrealism. He is considered to be one of the fathers of magical realism and fantasy in some respects. Borges died on June 14, 1986 in Geneva Switzerland.