Arts & Entertainment

Exhibit celebrates book that introduced the world to Borges

By Augusto Morel

Buenos Aires, Aug 2 (EFE).- Photographs, books, a wide variety of objects and an episode of “The Simpsons” are part of an exhibition at the Borges Cultural Center celebrating “Ficciones,” the 1944 collection of short stories that vaulted Jorge Luis Borges to international prominence.

Entering the center, inside a building in the heart of the Buenos Aires that once housed Argentina’s National Museum of Fine Arts, one is bombarded by images representing the writer’s creations.

Toward the front is a display case containing a compass and a hard-cover volume with the title “Tlon,” alluding to the story “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” based on an imaginary encyclopedia entry about a mythical nation – Uqbar – whose literature consists mainly of fantastic tales about the alien world of Tlon.

“For lovers of Borges it’s the re-encounter with the author’s most emblematic tome,” the center’s director, Ezequiel Grimson, tells EFE.

“It is there where he truly sets out to create an imaginary linked to the infinites of the library, of the labyrinths, of dreaming and being dreamed,” he said.

The exhibit is a mix of museum-style display cases and open shelves full of Borges’ books in various languages, while visitors can listen to audio of the author reading passages and discussing his work.

And a map transformed into a geometric mural of Buenos Aires is marked with the scenes of crimes from the detective story “La muerte y la brujula” (Death and the Compass).

The exhibit was put together by Mariano Moreno, German Alvarez, and Laura Rosato, all researchers at Argentina’s National Library, an institution led by Borges from 1955 to 1973.

“‘Ficciones’ is the great book of narratives in which Borges presents stories for the first time. Until that moment, he was known as a poet with some pseudo-essays,” Rosato tells EFE.

In one corner is a video monitor playing the “Simpsons” episode “Lisa the Iconoclast,” in which young Lisa Simpson learns while doing research for a school report on the founder of Springfield that he was a murderous pirate.

Borges aficionados see the episode as being in the spirit of his story, “Theme of the Traitor and the Hero,” adapted by filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci in 1970 as “The Spider’s Strategem.”

“Part of our objective is that this exhibit serves as an invitation to read, that the people who come through here leave with the desire to read Borges,” Grimson tells EFE.

EFE aam/dr

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