10 thoughts on “Borges in Performance”

  1. I’m also from Buenos Aires and I work in a library but luckily I’m not blind. Will have to try and see Performance once again as it’s ages since I’ve seen it and I can’t remember the scene with the pictures you’ve posted.
    Haven’t read much Borges yet but I did see a TV series of some of his short stories once which included one where a missionary was trying to educate natives about Jesus and how people should emulate/imitate him so the natives ended up crucifying him in the end.


    Under the photo it says this is the house where Borges was born.

    from here


    and here’s his grave


    I didn’t know he was buried in Switzerland.

  2. Those are actually shots from different scenes as the book recurs throughout the film. 1) Gangster Rosie Bloom is reading it while waiting in a car. 2) Turner’s kitchen where Mick Jagger has been reading from the story ‘The South’. A fly hits him in the eye and he drops the book. 3) Rosie retrieves his book after having visited a friend of Chas’s. 4) Borges’ face appears at the end when one of the characters (I won’t say which one) has been shot.

    Co-director Donald Cammell was responsible for these references. There’s also a brief Borges reference in his later film Demon Seed.

    Borges’ gravestone looks very different to what I expected. The inscription is unusual so I looked for an explanation in James Woodall’s biography, The Man in the Mirror of the Book. “…AND NE FORHTEDON NA…” is “And should not be afraid” from the Anglo-Saxon poem The Battle of Maldon. On the reverse side of the stone there are more lines: “HANN TEKR SVERTHIT GRAM / OK LEGGR I METHAL THEIRA BERT”, “He takes the sword Gram, and lays it naked between them” from The Saga of the Volsungs.

  3. We’ve actually got a few rare Borges books in the library where I work

    I, I am, A blind man = Yo, Soy, Un ciego / [by Jorge Luis Borges ; selected and illustrated with three etchings by Petr Herel] .
    Access Mitchell Library copy: Issued in the Original Materials Reading Room.

    “I, Iam, A blind man : three poems …” — Colophon.
    “[The book] has been handset in Baskerville and printed on Magnani Pescia paper in an edition of twenty copies” — Colophon.
    “I, I am, A blind man, is the tenth book from Finlay Press, Yabber Yabber publications” — Colophon.
    Mitchell Library copy: No.5 of limited edition of 20 copies.
    Mitchell Library copy: Signed by author.

    Ragnarök : a story / by Jorge Luis Borges ; translated by Nestor Silva.
    Kings Cross, N.S.W. : Nicholas Pounder, 1990.
    Description [6] p. ; 20 cm.
    Notes “A parallel text’.
    Text in Spanish and English.
    Limited edition: “500 copies for Nicholas Pounder, 50 copies for [Catnip] [P]ress.”

  4. Borrow away, I borrowed them from the film, after all! I’ve just noticed that the Yahoo Nicolas Roeg group says Performance is due to be released on DVD early next year. We’ll see.

  5. Hi Joe. Grove Press did the US edition in 1967 but the copy shown in the film is the UK edition from Jonathan Cape published in 1968.

  6. Great heads up on this movie! Borges is on the very very very short list of my favorite writers. Just an amazing mind. Whenever I start feeling too smart for my own good, I just pick up some Borges and I am sufficiently humbled.
    Already see that my local independent movie rental place (Wild and Woolly Video in Lou. KY) has a copy of Performance and it’s in-store at the moment. Might have to watch that tomorrow night.

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