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Delve Online: A Universal History: Selected Short Stories of Jorge Luis Borges

April 30 - May 7, 2020 Thursdays
5:00 - 7:00 p.m. (two sessions)
online via Zoom

This Delve takes place online with Zoom teleconferencing. Participants will receive instructions for how to log on to the Zoom meeting.

Born in 1899, Jorge Luis Borges devoted his life to literature, exploring far beyond the previously-held boundaries of fiction, and this devotion shifted not just our understanding of language, but of our consciousness. As he once said, “This world is so strange that anything may happen, or may not happen.” One never knows what they might find within his masterful prose.

The fiction of Borges dissolves and reconstructs itself as you venture from its first page to its last. A story that begins in a wine cellar might end with a reach toward the limits of the universe, a conversation between two old friends might become an encyclopedic documentation of a secret society (that some claim predicted the internet), a page-long description of a tiger might beg the question, Is anything verifiably real?

While these stories of symbology and metaphysics are his most notorious, Borges’ fictions also include knife fights, pirates, and gauchos. His voice will deftly change from academic to ironic to adventurous. These abrupt shifts in tone & perspective create an oeuvre that defies expectation.

Text: Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

First Assignment:
Read the following stories:
“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”
“The Lottery of Babylon”
“The Library of Babel”
“The Garden of Forking Paths”
“The South,” & “Death and the Compass.”
While this is only 54-pages, Borges is notoriously dense & obscure, please consider giving these stories more than one read-through.

Benjamin M. Ficklin

Benjamin M. Ficklin is an author, photographer, and event-coordinator from Portland, Oregon. A member of the Eugene-based literary collective The Stonecutters Union, he organizes readings to fundraise money for various humanitarian and environmental nonprofits. His recent work has appeared in LomographyAutreBang!, and The Stonecutters Union anthologies.
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