A Universal History of Iniquity

A Universal History of Iniquity

by Jorge Luis Borges

Sparkling with the sheer exuberant pleasure of story-telling, this wonderful collection marked the emergence of an utterly distinctive literary voice.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world.

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  • Language: English
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Rating: 3.97
  • Pages: 128
  • Publish Date: July 27th 2004 by Penguin Classics
  • Isbn10: 0142437891
  • Isbn13: 9780142437896

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The Disinterested Killer Bill Harrigan At the very beginning, Borges writes, "The almost-child who died at the age of twenty-one owing a debt to human justice for the deaths of twenty-one men - "not counting Mexicans." Yes, this is a tale of Billy the Kid. Iniquity, indeed; Borges gives us several vivid, memorable images of what it is like to kill for the hell of it. And then in the words of Borges, "That night Billy lays his blanket out next to the dead man and sleeps - ostentatiously - until morning." Monk Eastman, Purveyor of Iniquities Here is a description of noted personalities from this urban tale, "The chaotic story takes place in the cellars of old breweries turned into Negro tenements, in a seedy, three-story New York City filed with gangs of thugs like the Swamp Angels, who would swarm out of the labyrinthine sewers on marauding expeditions; gangs of cutthroats like the Daybreak boys, who recruited precocious murderers of ten and eleven years old; brazen, solitary giants like the Plug Uglies, whose stiff bowler hats stuffed with wood and whose vast shirttails blowing in the wind of the slums might provoke a passerby's improbable smile, but who carried huge bludgeons in their right hands and long, narrow pistols; and gangs of street toughs like the Dead Rabbit gang, who entered into battle under the banner of their mascot impaled upon a pike. My guess is anyone reading this review is light-years away from entering a world where teenagers kill for the hell of it or cutthroat gangs hack and slice one another to pieces under the banner of an impaled dog or rabbit.

Rodolfo Wilcox owes a debt for having enabled The Temple of Iconoclasts (which Ill now return to liking quite a lot), and more recently, providing premise for Roberto Bolaños Nazi Literature in the Americas (which I read first, bassackwards, I).

I had read several profound and passionate reviews by friends, and felt the building lure of Borges, aided by a growing awareness of how influential he was to many other writers. I'm glad I had first dipped into several pieces from later volumes (thanks for the suggestions, Steve) before reading these. Borges describes them as Baroque exercises, bordering on self-parody, and partially inspired by G K Chesterton. "In a few days she had recaptured the recollections her son had invoked." The Widow Ching - Pirate Early Chinese girl power and a pirate code (based on a real one) that prohibits rape. Mirrors and paternity are abominable because they multiply and affirm it." (This is paraphrased in the truly wonderful Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, which is the first story of the next volume.) Man on Pink Corner This is a first-person story of knife fighters, not based on on a real person, and the translator's notes point out that the "pink" of the title refers to a rough area of Buenos Aires, and the lack of definite pronoun conjures a painting (perhaps Edward Hopper). In the final sentence, the unnamed narrator makes it clear he's telling the story to Borges - an early nod to the way Borges later blends levels of reality. The Story of the Two Dreamers The power of dreams. Writing "free of any scruples as to the way words ought to be spelled".

They effectively document the development of Borges' style at a time when "he was a shy sort of man who could not bring himself to write short stories, and so amused himself by changing and distorting (sometimes without aesthetic justification) the stories of other men." Matter of Fact As Borges said in an earlier Preface, "the stories are not, nor do they attempt to be, psychological." I assume he meant they weren't concerned with the internal consciousness and motivation of the characters. Good, Compliant Readers Borges isn't interested in sincerity, because that can be faked. If you write matter of factly, then the reader will believe you. However, when the author or narrator decides to play a game with the reader, then the reading can be no more authentic than the writing. An author or narrator can make a reader complicit in their fraud, their forgery of truth. An Impostor Forges His Style These exercises in style, therefore, witness Borges mimicking and constructing styles of fiction and non-fiction that give the appearance of truth, veracity and authenticity. The Virtues of Unlikeness It's a game, of course. Some guide to Borges' modus operandi is revealed in the first sentence: "Imagine you bringing up Francisco Real that way, out of the clear blue sky, him dead and gone and all." Unlike the earlier stories, there is a first person narrator.

The final story, The Man in the corner of the pink wall is different, since it refers, apparently, to any specific historical character and the style is much more slang. Finally, the History of Infamy, who led us around the world, ends with a dozen small fictions all (a few lines, a few pages), stories of rewrites picked here and there by Borges, especially in the Book of the Thousand and One Nights. In "History of Eternity" met a patchwork of tests that have little to them, and even less with the Universal History of Infamy, even if they can give, at the turn, some indications on the style fictions of the first part.

En este libro Jorge Luis Borges realiza un compendio de semblanzas y anécdotas sobre personajes infames, entre ellos: Billy The Kid (cuatrero), La viuda Ching (Pirata) y Hakim De Merv (Falso Profeta). Con Historia universal de la infamia inicia el periodo clásico de Borges (Un crítico calificó este libro como la obra que inicia el realismo mágico latinoamericano), puede leerse como introducción al mundo Borgesiano y también como un libro de relatos históricos excelentemente escrito. El ánimo histórico y periodístico, lo coloca a como un libro menos complicado comparado con otras colecciones de relatos del autor (El Aleph y Ficciones), pero esto no significa que la lectura sea muy rápida, puesto que el lector deseará confrontar los innumerables datos y referencias mencionadas. Un relato corto de Borges puede contener más información que una novela completa de otros autores.

Ésa que separa, imperceptible, la realidad y la ficción. Sucede que, en esta antología de relatos criminales, Borges se apropia de historias verídicas (sin duda, caídas del ambar de viejas páginas policiales o de las polvorientas leyendas de antaño) y las envuelve en una atmósfera fascinante. Ésa que los lleva remodelar el pedestre edificio de los hechos, en busca de una belleza que son incapaces de extraer de la realidad. Es decir: aquellos que temen a Borges, a su pasión -a veces ininteligible- por el mito y lo metafísico, pueden trabar una incipiente amistad con él por medio de este libro, sin miedo a extravirse en sus laberintos conceptuales.

Borges en este libro de Ficción presenta cuentos creados con personajes biográficos. En el camino, el autor brinda información que va desde lo particular hacia lo general, la narrativa ve de adentro para fuera de la historia. Un poco paciencia y desde este libro de ficción podrás entrar en mundo de Borges, como buena alternativa de inicio de lectura de este autor.

On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in Surrealist literary journals. Coetzee said of Borges: "He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists."