Jorge Luis Borges: Seven Nights (Siete noches, 1980). Pentti Saaritsa, Finland. Aviador. 124 s.
Jorge Luis Borges never wrote a novel or even a long short story. Hardly any writer has risen to equal international prestige with precisely short prose.
The reputation of the Argentine Borges (1899–1986) is based in particular on original short stories published in the 1940s and other short texts. In Finnish, they have appeared in the selection Garden of branching paths (1969).
Many of Borges ’most beloved stories tell about literature and writers. Some of his short stories are charmingly dressed in the form of history or an essay.
Their in addition, Borges also wrote authentic essays, a collection of which has now been translated into Finnish Seven evenings (1980). It is based on presentations given by the author in 1977.
The topics are Dante’s Divine play, sleep, Arabian Nights, Buddhism, Kabbalah, poetry and blindness. Borges was already blind at this point in his life.
Theories, written recollections, and civilized associations cruise freely in the work. Borges doesn’t sound like a presenter but an old man who thinks out loud in focus and lets the mind wander.
In his essay Arabian Nights In the collection, Borges reflects on the meanings of the words Oriental and Western, and why there is one more night in addition to a thousand in the title of the work. The Kabbalah essay deals extensively with the differences in the interpretation of the Holy Book and the Classical Book.
The text on blindness is openly autobiographical and perhaps the most impressive in the book. Borges talks about experiencing colors as blind and the impact of blindness on language learning. At the same time, the essay, of course, reflects on the blindness of many great writers and its significance for their production.
short in his book Autobiography 1899–1970 (1970), translated into Finnish by Aviador two years ago, Borges says he has read very few novels in his life but has been a diligent reader of stories. It shows in the essays as well, for Seven evenings rarely refers to novels and enjoys poetry, myths, and philosophy better.
Speaking in the collection of essays, Borges is, above all, the reader: whatever the topic, ideas quickly move into literature and how literature is read. He is a writer of literature.
How Seven evenings worth reading? It should not be opened to gain new knowledge of Dante or Buddhism, but as a peek into Borges’ fascinating, library-like mind.