Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jorge Luis BORGES


Jorge Luis BORGES (Argentinian, 1899 - 1986) Self-portrait. ink on paper
8 3/4 x 6 inches (225 x 150 mm)
Britton, p. 199
Borges' work had not been widely translated into English by the time he shared the first International Publishers' Prize Prix Formentor with the widely respected Samuel Beckett in 1961. This led the translation and publication of two major Borges collections, Ficciones and Labyrinths.
Poignantly relating to self-portraits, Borges wrote in his The Art of Poetry:
To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water …

Sometimes at evening there's a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.
"There's a poem by Ken McCullough - 'Buckley Interviews Borges', found in the volume Travelling Light - in which the poet tells of my meeting with the great Borges. He tells of my showing him, the nearly blind Borges, my collection of self-portraits - Saroyan, Merwin, Lowell, the hundreds of others - and of Borges studying each one as if for an exam. And then of Señor Borges putting pen to paper - using one finger along the edge of the paper to guide the others - and doing his own. Then saying, he's 'tired', that he 'must rest'. The portrait, Borges as Labyrinth, is perfect. But what I most remember as if it were indeed yesterday was escorting him up the stairs onto the main floor, him stopping and, as McCullough tells it, 'listens/ to the room, the stacks, the books', and telling me, 'You have as many volumes here as we have in our/ National Library'". -- Burt Britton

est. $6000 – $8000

Sold for $5000
Sale NY034, 24th September 2009


Spinoza’s Sonnet

English translations:

1 (literal).
The translucent hands of the Jew
Work in the penumbra, crystals
& the evening, dying, is dread & chill.
(Evenings to evenings are equal.)

The hands & space of hyacinth
Waning in the confines of the Ghetto
Almost do not exist for the man so quiet
Who is dreaming a clear labyrinth.

He’s not perturbed by fame, that reflection
Of dreams in the dream of another mirror,
Nor by the timorous love of maidens.

Free from metaphor & myth
He works a hard crystal: the Infinite
Map of That which totals His stars.

The Jew’s hands, translucent in the dusk,
polish the lenses time and again.
The dying afternoon is fear, is
cold, and all afternoons are the same.
The hands and the hyacinth-blue air
that whitens at the Ghetto edges
do not quite exist for this silent
man who conjures up a clear labyrinth—
undisturbed by fame, that reflection
of dreams in the dream of another
mirror, nor by maidens’ timid love.
Free of metaphor and myth, he grinds
a stubborn crystal: the infinite
map of the One who is all His stars.

“In that sonnet, I refer specifically to the philosopher Spinoza. He is polishing crystal lenses and is polishing a rather vast crystal philosophy of the universe. I think we might consider those tasks parallel. Spinoza is polishing his lenses, Spinoza is polishing vast diamonds, his ethics.”


No comments: