Borges and the cats

borges1.jpg

To a cat

Mirrors are not more wrapt in silences
nor the arriving dawn more secretive;
you, in the moonlight, are that panther figure
which we can only spy at from a distance.
By the mysterious functioning of some
divine decree, we seek you out in vain;
remoter than the Ganges or the sunset,
yours is the solitude, yours is the secret.
Your back allows the tentative caress
my hand extends. And you have condescended
since that forever, now oblivion,
to take love from a flattering human hand.
You live in other time, lord of your realm —
a world as closed and separate as dream.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alastair Reid, 1977)

There are many tigers in the writings of Borges—the poem above is from a collection entitled The Gold of the Tigers—so it’s no surprise that the author would pay his respects to their domestic relatives. Regarding translations (and this is something I’ve noted before), those by Anthony Kerrigan, Alastair Reid, Norman Thomas di Giovanni and others were made with the author’s approval, and sometimes with his collaboration. The more recent translations by the Borges estate are poor in comparison.

Many more photos of cats with their writers may be seen here.

borges4.jpg

Grove Press, 1994.

borges2.jpg

borges5.jpg

Debolsillo, 2011.

borges6.jpg

Previously on { feuilleton }
Invasion, a film by Hugo Santiago
Spiderweb, a film by Paul Miller
Books Borges never wrote
Borges and I
Borges documentary
Borges in Performance

Borges and I

borges.jpg

Another piece of revenant television to tick off the “When will I see this?” list, I mentioned David Wheatley’s film Borges and I back in January in a post about Wheatley’s dramatisation of the life and work of René Magritte. It was that student film that secured for Wheatley a job as a BBC director at a time when the Arena arts series was one of the best things being produced by the corporation. Borges and I was filmed in 1982 and broadcast a year later, an event I managed to miss to my considerable regret. Once again Ubuweb has turned up the goods with a copy from an American video tape. It’s not ideal—all the Spanish sequences would have been subtitled in the original broadcast—but I’m not going to complain. This 80-minute film is not only the best Anglophone documentary I’ve seen on Borges, it was produced in collaboration with the author who for much of the running time discusses his life and work in English. The tape copy also frustratingly lacks credits but the unseen American interviewer and narrator would appear to be translator and collaborator Norman Thomas di Giovanni, a writer who later found himself and his work marginalised by the Borges estate. Between the interviews and readings there are dramatised sequences from The Meeting, Funes, the Memorious, The South, The Circular Ruins, Death and the Compass, and The Sartorial Revolution, one of the collaborations with Adolfo Bioy-Casares. Plus, of course, the expected complement of mirrors, tigers and a duel with knives. The budget must have been generous: scenes were shot in Argentina and Uruguay, and we also see Borges at his favourite lodging in Paris: L’Hôtel in the Rue des Beaux-Arts, a building which now bears plaques celebrating the visits of Borges and another famous literary resident, Oscar Wilde.

Previously on { feuilleton }
René Magritte by David Wheatley
L’Hôtel, Paris
Borges documentary
Borges in Performance