Borges and Seuss

In response to my previous entry, Alan pointed me to The Sideshow, where the Original Ratbastards—Alan, Barth, Kristin, and Barzak—review short fiction. Somehow I was unaware of this, even though it turns out Barth pointed me at it a month ago. Nifty. Thanks, Alan!

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. The Sideshow led me ineluctably to its parent site, The Modern Word, "the Web’s largest site devoted to exploring twentieth-century experimental literature." It features sections devoted to authors such as:

And that's just the ones whose last names begin with B. See the site for more: Dick, Eco, Garciá Márquez, Joyce, Kafka, Lem, Lovecraft, Peake, Pynchon, Winterson, and so on. (It's interesting that most of the listed authors are male. There are stub pages for a bunch of authors they haven't covered yet; if you want to help them out with Kathy Acker, A.S. Byatt, Gertrude Stein, or Virginia Woolf—or, for that matter, any of the numerous male authors they haven't yet covered—then stop by their submission guidelines page.)

But I still haven't gotten to the reason I'm posting this entry.

It's partly to point you at the editor's bio, where Allen B. Ruch discusses his literary roots, explaining how Harold and the Purple Crayon and On Beyond Zebra led him to Tolkien and thence inexorably to Kafka, Borges, and the rest. A good essay, worth reading.

And it's partly to point you to a couple of other Borges resources on the web ('cause it seems like I've been running into references to Borges everywhere I look lately), such as the Wikipedia article on Borges, where you can also read about some of his stories, such as "The Library of Babel," "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," and "Pierre Menard, Author of The Quixote." Bizarrely, there's no entry for "The Garden of Forking Paths," one of his most famous stories, nor is it listed among his short stories in the list that Wikipedia provides. I would add it to the list if I were surer that there's no good reason for it not to be listed.

Other resources include: the Borgesian Cyclopaedia; Internetaleph (a bilingual Borges site; to view it in English, click the English link in the upper right corner); and Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works: Jorge Luis Borges.

Borges continues to amaze me pretty much every time I encounter his work; at some point I really need to sit down and read through all of the collected-short-fiction volume that's been sitting on my bookshelf for years. He was doing stuff with philosophical metafiction and confusion of reality levels in the early '40s that American science fiction writers didn't start looking at until the late '60s, or even the late '80s.

But I also oughtta read John Barth, and Calvino, and a bunch of the other authors discussed on that Modern Word site. Had I but world enough and time. . . .

One Response to “Borges and Seuss”

  1. barth

    calvino’s short stories are like fire-crackers, if you’re looking for a quick, potent intro to calvino. T-ZERO and COSMIC COMICS are two of my all-time favorite short story collections.


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