This Craft of Verse
Jorge Luis Borges
Edited by Calin-Andrei Mihailescu
University of Harvard Press, 2000.
I have spent my life reading, analyzing, writing (or trying my hand at writing), and enjoying. I found the last to be the most important thing of all. “Drinking in” poetry, I have come to a final conclusion about it. Indeed, every time I am faced with a blank page, I feel that I have to rediscover literature for myself…. I have only my perplexities to offer you. I am nearing seventy. I have given the major part of my life to literature, and I can offer you only doubts
—Jorge Luis Borges, “The Riddle of Poetry”
It is impossible to begin a review of This Craft of Verse without commenting on the Borgesian nature of the discovery itself. From 1967 to 1968, Jorge Luis Borges delivered the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University. Having never been transcribed, they were subsequently assumed lost—until the end of the twentieth century, when a dusty recording was discovered in a library vault. There, committed to magnetic memory, was a voice from thirty-odd years ago, the voice of a poet now silent for half that time. A voice perhaps even more vital today, after the long and often controversial course of postmodernism has delivered us to a new millennium; a voice urging us to keep language alive.
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