Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

Search Collections

Jorge Luis Borges:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899-1986
Title: Jorge Luis Borges Papers
Dates: 1922-1975
Extent: 1 box (.42 linear foot)
Abstract: The Jorge Luis Borges Collection comprises drafts, sketches, notes, and some correspondence produced by Borges between 1922 and 1975.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-0453
Language: English and Spanish
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Purchase and Gift, 1974-2010 (R14410, 10-07-008-P, 10-10-002-P)

Processed by:

Bob Taylor, 2012

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 24, 1899, to Jorge Guillermo Borges Haslam and his wife Leonor Acevedo Suárez. Borges grew up in a bookish and genteel household, in which memories of family history and accomplishments were strong. From his paternal grandmother Fanny Haslam he learned to speak and read English, and even as a child he had a strongly-developed interest in literature, language, and the written word generally.

In 1914, the Borges family settled in Geneva, Switzerland, where Jorge Luis and his sister Norah continued their schooling. Jorge Luis continued to read widely, learning French and German, and, in 1918, receiving the baccalaurèat from the Collège de Genève. At the end of the First World War the Borges family did not immediately return to Argentina but spent several years in Spain. In Madrid, Borges became involved in the avant garde Ultraist movement, the seeds of which he took back with him to Argentina.

In 1921, Borges began the short-lived broadsheet poetry serial publication Prisma, following in 1922 with Proa, the second series (1924-1926) of which contained contributions by Borges in all but one of its fifteen numbers. Later in the decade he was a frequent contributor to Martín Fierro, and, from 1931, the journal Sur .

Throughout the 1930s Borges pursued a career in literary journalism, writing poetry, short stories, and essays. From 1938 he was a cataloger in a branch of the Biblioteca Pública de Buenos Aires, a position that, it is said, permitted him ample time to work at his career as a literary writer.

During the 1940s, Borges embarked on a career as a public speaker and teacher, while continuing with his writing. During that decade his two best-known titles, Ficciones (1944) and El Aleph (1949), both collections of short stories, were published. With the consolidation of political power by Juan Perón in Argentina in 1946 Borges was forced from his position in the Buenos Aires library. Quixotically, Perón's gesture had the effect of promoting Borges as a spokesman for Argentina's political opposition.

By the 1950s, Borges's impaired vision was rapidly failing, and he was obliged to live with his mother so she might act as his secretary. With the ouster of Perón in 1955 Borges was named director of Argentina's Biblioteca Nacional, and as the culmination of growing regard for his work on the international scene he was in 1961 the co-recipient (with Samuel Beckett) of the Prix International. "As a consequence of that prize," Borges said, "my books mushroomed overnight throughout the western world." Concurrently with the Prix International Borges was named to the Tinker Chair at the University of Texas, leading to a lecture tour of the United States.

Through the 1960s and beyond, as he was better-known and increasingly widely-read, Borges traveled and lectured extensively. In 1967, Borges, working with the American scholar Norman Thomas Di Giovanni, began a project of translating his works into English. The program of translation, which began with a bilingual edition entitled Selected Poems, 1923-1967, continued until 1972. On the domestic political front, the return of Juan Perón from exile and his election to the presidency in 1973 led to Borges's immediate resignation as director of the Bibioteca Nacional.

His 1967 marriage to Elsa Astete Millán failed after three years and Borges turned once again to his mother as secretary. Following her death in 1975, María Kodama became Borges's secretary. In the last years of his life he bequeathed his literary properties to her, and shortly before his own death in Geneva, on 14 June 1986, Borges and Kodama were married.


Loewenstein, C. Jared. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Jorge Luis Borges Collection at the University of Virginia Library. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1993.

Wall, Catharine E. "The Jorge Luis Borges collection at the University of Texas at Austin" in Latin American Research Review, v. 36, no. 3 (2001).

Williamson, Edwin. Borges, a Life. New York: Viking, 2004.


The Ransom Center's collection of manuscript material created by Jorge Luis Borges represents the years 1922 to 1975 and is arranged in three series: I. Works, II. Notebooks, and III. Correspondence.

Series I. Works, 1926-1967, embodies several essays, two short stories( "Emma Zunz" and "Los Rivero" ), two poems( "Mateo XXV: 30" and "Texas" ), and several literary fragments. Also present are the page proofs for the 1959 edition of Poemas, printed for the friends of Federico Vogelius.

Series II. Notebooks, 1949-1960 contains five notebooks used by Borges to draft imaginative works and essays, as well as to set down ideas and themes for future development. Several works by Borges that appeared in Sur during the 1950s are found here in draft form, including "Sobre don Seguno Sombra" and "Parábola del palacio." The first four notebooks are in Borges's own hand; the last, dating from 1955 and later, was largely dictated by Borges to his mother.

Series III. Correspondence, 1922-1975, is small, and in it four missives from Borges to others are found. The earliest of these, from 1922, is a note written to accompany two signed presentation copies of the broadsheet Prisma sent by Borges to the poet Ricardo Molinari. The Ransom Center also holds the broadsheets. Another early item, a 1929 note to Ulises Petit de Murat, is bound in a notebook of Petit de Murat's manuscript poems. Also found in the notebook is Borges's transcription of Robert Browning's poem "Memorabilia."


The Ransom Center holds the two signed numbers of Prisma mentioned above in its Vertical File collection, as well as all the fifteen issues of the second series of Proa. The Center further holds an extensive collection of Borges's other published work, included holdings of the three serial publications( Prisma, Proa, and Martín Fierro) closely associated with his career. The Center's Edward Larocque Tinker Collection also contains publications concerning Argentine (and other Latin American) literature and history. The university's Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection has other significant holdings in these areas.

Significant Borges collections are found in the Colección Jorge Luis Borges of the Fundación San Telmo in Buenos Aires and in the University of Virginia Library's Special Collections Department. The former has major holdings of Borges manuscripts, and the latter collection embraces an exhaustive library of published editions.


People

Di Giovanni, Norman Thomas

Petit de Murat, Ulises, 1907-1983

Romero, José Luis, 1909-1977

Tinker, Edward Larocque, 1881-1968

Subjects

Argentina--Intellectual life--20th century

Authors, Argentine--20th century

Document Types

Drafts

Notebooks