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Jorge Luis Borges and Medieval Germanic Literatures

M.J. Toswell, Western Ontario University

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In the last third of his life, Jorge Luis Borges agreed to a lot of interviews. In nearly every single one, he discussed his love of Old English, and in most he added in a discussion of Old Norse.[1] Thus, for example, in one interview from 1968, with Rita Guibert, the following statements occur:

  • (From Guibert’s introduction): “When I accompanied him [in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was a guest lecturer at Harvard] on some of these daily strolls he would reminisce about his daily walks through the streets of Buenos Aires, or comment on the old brick houses in Boston, or recite old English sagas in the original Anglo-Saxon.” (P. 42)
  • J.L.B.: “There’s another thing I would like to mention, and that is that time passes differently when one has lost one’s sight….Now I have to manage differently. I’ve got quite a good memory and I began learning Old English in 1955, when I could no longer read. Since then I’ve held a seminar in Old English for a small group of students. Once I got them to draw on the blackboard in the National Library the two runic letters representing the sound th in Anglo-Saxon. I know hundreds of lines of Anglo-Saxon verse by heart, but I couldn’t clearly imagine the page they were written on. (Pp. 44-5)
  • J.L.B.: “…we spent five months in Texas and I taught Argentine literature there. But I was a student as well as a professor, and attended Dr. Willard’s classes in Old English.” (p. 47)
  • R.G.: “Have you any other work on hand? J.L.B.: At the moment, I’m working on some sonnets, which come to me slowly. I’m also thinking of writing a book on medieval Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian literature. I’ve already done some work on it, but I shall go on with it in Buenos Aires, where I have my library.” (P. 63)
  • J.L.B.: “You will say that it’s easier for a Dane to study English than for a Spanish-speaking person to learn English or an Englishman Spanish; but I don’t think this is true, because English is a Latin language as well as a Germanic one. At least half the English vocabulary is Latin. Remember that in English there are two words for every idea: one Saxon and one Latin. You can say ‘Holy Ghost’ or ‘Holy Spirit,’ ‘sacred’ or ‘holy.’ There’s always a slight difference, but one that’s very important for poetry, the difference between ‘dark’ and ‘obscure’ for instance, or ‘regal’ and ‘kingly,’ or ‘fraternal’ and ‘brotherly.’ In the English language almost al words representing abstract ideas come from Latin, and those for concrete ideas from Saxon, but there aren’t so many concrete ideas.” (P. 71)[2]

In his own words, then, Borges was fascinated by Old English and Old Norse. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the arguments he proposes concerning the languages and literatures of the north, they are thoughtful and insightful. In fact, the least insight is demonstrated by the interviewer, who refers to “Old English sagas,” not knowing that she has probably conflated two statements and a series of quotations. Similarly, in the short autobiography that Borges wrote around the same time as this interview, he comments on how he delivered lectures on medieval Germanic literature and the Icelandic sagas in 1946, wrote a short piece about kennings in 1933 when he first became interested in metaphor and the Saxon and Icelandic kenningar, would be happy to study Old English for the rest of his days, audited an Old English class at the University of Texas in 1961, and wrote a poem in Spanish in 1963 about one of the swords pointed out to him by the curator of the Viking rooms in the museum in York, England. [3] It seems fair to conclude that for the entirety of his life Borges was interested in, and as an older adult fascinated by, Old English and Old Norse.

John Sturrock notes that Borges had an English grandmother who lived with his family, an English nanny, and parents who both spoke and habitually read English. He states that, “[w]here literature was concerned, English was always the language in which Borges was most knowledgeably and comfortably at home.”[4] Sturrock also tells the tale, often repeated by Borges himself, that after he went blind in 1955 he took up “English in its earliest form, of Anglo-Saxon” and with his delighted students enjoyed the sounds of the language so much that together they were “shouting out Old English sentences on their way down the city streets” of Buenos Aires.[5] Nevertheless, the chronology provided here and in many other places by Borges, despite his insistence on it, cannot be entirely correct. Well before his late fifties and the early onset of his blindness, Borges knew a great deal not just about Old English but also about Old High German and Old Norse, and even something about Old Gothic – for in 1951 Borges published, with the collaboration of Delia Ingenieros, a book entitled Antiguas literaturas germánicas. [6] He was not yet blind, though his sight was certainly failing, but given that he had already produced lectures on this material in the 40’s, and had been taken by the northern use of metaphors in the 30’s, it seems clear that Borges’ knowledge of Old English and Old Norse had already been very substantial before the date at which he went blind and began to learn Old English (always given in his interviews and personal comments as 1955). In the book published in 1951, Borges wrote detailed and careful surveys, with some analysis, of the literatures of northern Europe, offering synopses as well as linking the texts where possible to their authors and to the social and historical contexts in which they were first prepared.

The history of Borges’ interest in Old English and Old Norse is therefore somewhat complex. The first extended work in the field, the book published in 1951, is about forty thousand words. At this point he was teaching English literature at the Asociación de Cultura Inglesa and giving lectures on American literature in a Buenos Aires college.[7] Having worked until 1946 in a library and then been “promoted” by the Perón regime to an inspectorship of poultry and rabbits in the markets, Borges had resigned and taken on a rather hard-scrabble life. When the Peróns fell, the successor regime appointed Borges in 1955 as director of the National Library in Buenos Aires (owing to the intervention of some friends and supporters). In 1956 he also became Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Buenos Aires; he had stated in his job application simply that Sin darme cuenta me estuve preparando para este puesto toda mi vida (“Without knowing it, I was preparing myself for this post all my life”). [8] Borges in his stories of his life and his discovery of Old English refers to this later stint as a university teacher as the time when he discovered early Germanic literatures, and it is in this period that he encountered two students who later became centrally important to his engagement with Germanic literature: Esther Vásquez and María Kodama. This is also the period in Borges’ life when the eye-condition inherited from his father occasioned his own blindness, which – as he frequently pointed out – made him more susceptible to the aural effects of early Germanic poetry.

With the collaboration of María Esther Vásquez, Borges published a second, somewhat reorganized and slightly expanded, version of his book on the early literatures of northern Europe, this time entitled Literaturas germánicas medievales, in 1965. [9] The book clearly indicates its indebtedness to the earlier survey, stating on the copyright page: “La primera versión de este libro, escrito por Jorge Luis Borges con la colaboración de Delia Ingenieros, apareció con el título Antiguas literaturas germánicas…” (“The first version of this book, written by J.L.B. with the collaboration of Delia Ingenieros, appeared with the title “Ancient Germanic Literatures”). The second version is described on that page as revised and corrected. Borges in the same year cowrote with Vásquez a survey addressing the whole history of English literature. [10] The discussion of Old English in this textbook is clearly a digested version of the work Borges had previously done in the field. Vásquez has some copyright interest in the second draft of the publication on Germanic literatures, having successfully argued in the Argentinian courts that this is a discrete work.

María Kodama, another of the students in the Buenos Aires classes, became Borges’ longtime secretary and assistant; and, in 1986, the year of Borges’ death in Geneva, Switzerland, his wife. She is presumably responsible for his tombstone, which on the face below Borges’ name and dates has incised an image of a group of men brandishing swords and the inscription, and ne forhtodon na “and they were not at all afraid,” from near the beginning of the surviving lines of the Old English Battle of Maldon. [11] The obverse of his tombstone in the Pleinpalais cemetery has the famous lines from the Old Norse Völsungasaga in which Sigurðr lays his sword Gram in the bed to separate himself from Brunhildr, and a quotation from a Borges short story referring to the love between Borges and Kodama. Kodama also collaborated as a full co-author with Borges on an anthology in 1978 of Old English texts translated into Spanish, entitled Breve antología anglosajona, and Borges often referred to her as a former student in his Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse classes.

Whatever the truth of the detailed chronology of Borges’ interest in early Germanic literatures might be, it is clear that he knew and loved these texts as literature. He read the Old English without difficulty, and although he had more trouble with Old Norse, he recognised the excellence of the sagas (having first read them as a child in William Morris’ translations, part of his father’s library). He also did the work necessary to consider the backgrounds and approaches of the literatures of northern Europe. Thus, his survey Antiguas literaturas germánicas begins with consideration of Ulfilas and his Bible before turning to Gildas to introduce Anglo-Saxon England. [12] It is probably not surprising that Borges starts with Gildas, another devotee of the elaborate metaphor; Borges then touches on the language and its terminology before turning to the literature, and particularly to its structure and approach. He refers to the pleasure of alliteration, and to el empleo sistemático de determinadas perífrasis “the systematic use of purposeful periphrasis” (p. 16) offering many detailed examples. The chapter itself discusses in more detail than one might expect the prose and poetry of Old English. For example, Borges’ extended consideration of Beowulf reaches a very careful conclusion which almost dares to disagree with W.P. Ker:

Ker ha negado la unidad de la Gesta de Beowulf; para intuirla bastaría considerar al dragón, a Grendel y a la madre de Grendel símbolos o formas del mal. La historia de Beowulf sería en tal caso la de un hombre que cree haber sido vencedor en una batalla y que, después de muchos años, tiene que librarla otra vez y no es vencedor. Sería la fábula de un hombre a quien alcanza finalmente el destino y de una batalla que vuelve. Grendel, hijo remoto de Caín, sería de algún modo el dragón, “el horror manchado, la peste de la penumbra”. Esa sería la unidad negada por Ker. No digo que tal es el argumento de Beowulf; digo que tal es el argumento que entrevió el poeta de Beowulf o hacia el cual escribió. (P. 24)

[Ker has rejected the unity of the geste of Beowulf; in order to deduce it, it would be enough simply to consider the dragon, Grendel, and Grendel’s mother as symbols or figures of evil. The story of Beowulf would in this interpretation be that of a man who believes he has won in one battle but who, after many years, has to rid the nation of evil a second time but does not win. It would be the exemplary story of a man whom fate finally overcomes and of a battle that returns. Grendel, the distant son of Cain, would be in a figurative way the dragon, “the dappled horror, the plague of twilight.” This would be the unity rejected by Ker. I do not say that this is the story of Beowulf; I say that a story like this one is what the poet of Beowulf attempted or was moving towards as he wrote.]

Borges is careful and respectful, but at the same time offers his own approach to the poem – and it is an approach that will appeal to many. Moreover, his effortless quotation of later texts as obvious context for Beowulf suggests that for Borges, as for few others, Old English texts are a genuine and integral part of the entire field of English literature. Later in the same chapter Borges juxtaposes the oneiric inspiration of Caedmon against that of Robert Louis Stevenson, who conceived the plot of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde during a fevered dream. He follows up with Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, and later yet connects the dialogues of Solomon and Saturn with the proverbial elements of Don Quijote. The chapter concludes with Layamon, figured as the last Anglo-Saxon poet, and Borges applauds the warlike spirit of Beowulf and the Ballad of Maldon reborn here in the verses of a priest – the title of the Ballad of Maldon seems surprisingly apposite.

The longest section of the book reviews Scandinavian literature, but cumulatively and again with linkages to Spanish and to other Germanic texts. Thus, referring to the Elder Edda, Borges states:

Las poesías de la Edda Mayor son gnómicas, narrativas, burlescas y trágicas. Tratan de dioses y de héroes. A diferencia de los lentos, laboriosos y elegíacos anglosajones, los anónimos poetas de la Edda son rápidos – a veces hasta la oscuridad – y enérgicos. Frecuentan la desesperación y la cólera, no la melancolía. (P. 59)

[The poems of the Elder Edda are gnomic, narrative, burlesque and tragic, discussing the affairs of gods and of heroes. Unlike the slow, laboured and elegiac Anglo-Saxons, the anonymous poets of the Edda move rapidly, at times to or past obscurity of meaning – and energetically. Desperation and anger are frequent, not melancholy.]

Borges is willing to engage in the sweeping generalization, and to offer his own judgment about the materials he is describing. He reviews most of the poems in the Elder Edda, and then offers consideration of several sagas, quoting some of the famous passages (Gunnar’s death in Njal’s Saga, Thorbjorn’s killing of Atli in Grettir’s Saga) but generally offering a careful and judicious analysis of the accomplishments of these texts. When he turns to the skaldic poetry, Borges is on very solid ground, and rather delights in explicating the complexity of the imagery. He provides some fifty examples of kennings, and then advises his Spanish reader as follows:

No hay que olvidar que en los textos originales cada una de las kenningar corresponde a una sola palabra compuesta; donde escribimos sol de las casas podríamos haber escrito sol doméstico, donde escribimos espina de la batalla podríamos haber escrito espina guerrera. Traducir cada kenning por un sustantivo español con adjetivo especificante hubiera sido quizá lo más fiel, pero también lo menos eficaz y lo más difícil, por falta de adjetivos. (P. 93)

[In the original texts, it must be remembered, each one of the kenningar is one compound word; when we write “sun of the houses” we could have written “domestic sun”; when we write “thorn of the battle” we could have written “warlike thorn.” Rendering each kenning with a Spanish substantive with a qualifying adjective would perhaps have been the most faithful approach, but also the least dynamic and the most difficult, simply for lack of adjectives.]

In other words, Borges wants to clarify the kind of metaphorical effect that kennings produce; he proceeds in the next paragraph to compare analogous structures in Greek, Italian, Russian, French, Spanish, Argentinian, German, English, and Chinese texts, offering detailed examples from many centuries and many kinds of texts. He quotes G.K. Chesterton and James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Browne, Victor Hugo and Francisco de Quevedo. With this extensive analysis of comparative metaphor, Borges turns to the most important individual figure in his survey: Snorri Sturluson. Snorri receives extended and largely sympathetic consideration; afterwards Borges briefly considers some less important works, and finishes the chapter with the Völsunga Saga and Saxo Grammaticus (who offers Borges an opportunity to look forward to Shakespeare and his version of the story of Hamlet or Amleth).

The last section addresses German literature, and is perhaps the least successful. Rather than tart or enthusiastic assessments of individual texts and the accomplishments of early medieval authors, this section presents a more anodyne approach. Starting with Tacitus, Borges works chronologically through the extant texts, offering quotations from each and short analyses. Given Borges’ delight in the Völsungs, it is not too surprising that his best work in this chapter concerns the Nibelungenlied (although it has to be noted that in his prologue he notes disparagingly that Spanish readers only know Germanic medieval literatures by way of Wagner’s operas). He concludes on this text that: Puede dolernos que el juglar del Nibelungenlied haya suprimido o atenuado lo maravilloso; pensemos que, al obrar así, ayudó a construir el camino que va del cuento de hadas a la novela (p. 164). “It could grieve us that the poet of the Nibelingenlied should have suppressed or diminished the marvellous; we could think that, working in this way, he helped to construct the road which runs from the fairy-tale to the novel.” Given Borges’ own delight in the marvellous and the metaphorical, he would have to be disappointed in more realistic and down-to-earth versions of the adventures of the Volsungs.

It is not surprising that Borges had the instincts of a scholar, though his more fundamental approach remains that of the thinker and poet. What is perhaps surprising is how infrequently his lifelong interest in early Germanic literatures has been noticed. His first piece on kennings, though short, was published separately in 1933. He published a short piece comparing Dante’s Divina Commedia to Bede’s accounts of the dream-visions of Fursey and Drihthelm, and rewrote it several times, including for his book on Dante. [13] Since dream-visions are at the core of Borges’ own literary output, it remains surprising that there is little scholarship on how he integrated these Anglo-Saxon visions into his own worldview. His interest in Old English and Old Norse was a lifelong pursuit, albeit one that he himself emphasized more strongly in his last twenty-five years, updating and reworking earlier texts such as the one that is the focus here. He produced a fascinating and deeply medieval bestiary. [14] He wrote poems referring to Beowulf, to the poet who wrote Battle of Brunanburh, and made references to Old English in various other texts, especially poetry.

Borges, then, spoke frequently of Old English and Old Norse, and he kept his texts. Alberto Manguel recently pointed out in his memoir about reading books aloud to Borges during his teenage years that the bookcase in his bedroom “held volumes of poetry and one of the largest collections of Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic literature in Latin America.”[15] Later on, Manguel notes that Borges recited the “Our Father” in Old English in a derelict Saxon chapel near the Lichfield of Dr. Johnson, purely “to give God a little surprise.”[16] In other words, Borges loved Old English and Old Norse, both the sounds and the subjects, both the complexity of the imagery and the simplicity of the focus. His approach to his own writing was indelibly marked by his own thinking about the medieval literatures of the north. When he says that he wrote “Funes the Memorious” is order to explore a metaphor about sleep, he is playing with epithets and kennings in a dense and famous short story.[17] As far as Borges was concerned, these influences were important; moreover, as far as he was concerned, medieval texts were part of the mainstream of literary development, worthy to be cited in the same sentences as more modern writers, and treated as part of the developing river that is literary production.[18]

In the introduction to a recent collection of papers on medievalism with respect to Old English texts, David Clark and Nicholas Perkins comment on how “powerfully Anglo-Saxon culture works its way into the dreams and landscapes of the modern arts in ways neither to be ignored as obsucrantist nor dismissed as cliché-ridden.”[19] The essays in their collection do indeed demonstrate this point but, as the editors point out, Borges does not appear.[20] Perhaps future such collections on this theme of medievalism in early Germanic cultures will not omit what Clark and Perkins mention as other “instances of this exchange” when they refer to “Jorge Luis Borges meditating on his distance and closeness to a Saxon poet’s voice.”[21]

Notes

[1] Combining and considering the many comments he made on Old English and Old Norse, and the extent to which these overlapped, would be a study in itself. Only in one set of interviews, as best I can tell, did the two participants agree on a coherent plan for the talks; unsurprisingly, the last chapter of this interview is “Mitología escandinava y épica anglosajona” (“Scandinavian Mythology and Anglo-Saxon Epic”), chapter 30 in Borges en diálogo: Conversacions de Jorge Luis Borges con Osvaldo Ferrari. Barcelona: Ediciones Grijalbo, 1985. The interviews, for radio transmission in Buenos Aires, took place during 1984. Consider also Seven Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges: Fernando Sorrentino. Trans. with notes by Clark M. Zlotchew. Troy, New York: Whitston Publishing, 1982. The interviews were held in 1968 or 1969, and during them Borges refers to medieval matters six times, only once to discuss medieval Spanish literature (unfavourably as something dull and lacking any sense of epic), and the other five focusing on his interest in northern literatures.

[2] The interview is “‘Jorge Luis Borges.’ Rita Guibert/1968.” In Jorge Luis Borges: Conversations. Ed. Richard Burgin. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1998. Pp. 42-75. Rep. from Seven Voices: Seven Latin American Writers Talk to Rita Guibert. Rita Guibert. Trans. Frances Partridge. New York: Knopf, 1973. Pp. 77-117. Elsewhere in the same volume Borges raises Old English three more times, discussing the bestiary poems at some length, the grammar and etymology of Old English, and even quoting the opening eight lines of “The Seafarer” and then commenting on Ezra Pound’s translation of the same text in “An Interview with Jorge Luis Borges,” John Biguenet and Tom Whalen/1982. Pp. 199-212 at p. 207.

[3] See Jorge Luis Borges, with Norman Thomas di Giovanni, Autobiografía 1899-1970. Buenos Aires: El Ateneo, 1998. (Translated from “Autobiographical Essay,” The New Yorker. September, 1970). Pp. 113, 131, 134, 143, and 174, respectively.

[4] Sturrock makes these comments in the first book by Jorge Luis Borges to be translated into English, the short-story collection Ficciones (“Fictions”): see Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956. Introduction by John Sturrock. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1993. P. xi.

[5] P. xii.

[6] Antiguas literaturas germánicas. Jorge Luis Borges con la colaboración de Delia Ingenieros (“with the collaboration of Delia Ingenieros”). México and Buenos Aires: Fond de Cultura Económica, 1951. 2nd ed. 1965. My translation of this text is forthcoming in the series Old English Newsletter Subsidia.

[7] Sturrock provides a detailed chronology in Ficciones, pp. xxvi-xliii, this reference at p. xxxiv.

[8] Borges, Autobiografía. P. 126.

[9] Jorge Luis Borges and María Esther Vázquez. Literaturas germánicas medievales. Buenos Aires: Falbo Librero Editor, 1965. This book is the one reprinted in the Obras completas en colaboración (Complete Works in Collaboration) of 1979 [Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 1979], pp. 859-977, although its publication date is given as 1966 referring to a first corrected edition by the two collaborators. A second edition of the book on its own was also published by Emecé in Buenos Aires in 1978. P. 977 presents an “Epílogo” (Epilogue) by Borges alone, written at Buenos Aires on 8 February 1979, in which he ponders the business of literary collaboration, referring to the creation of Bustos Domecq by himself and his good friend Adolfo Bioy Casares, to the way in which Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde were one and not two in the novel, as also was Dorian Gray: era uno y fue dos “he was one and became two” (or even perhaps “he made himself two”). He speaks of the joy of collaboration, and states outright that this second attempt at thinking about the northern cultures is more pleasing to him than his first, and although he is present in each volume, in the first he is solitary, and in the second has the happiness of friendship and shared risks. The epilogue thus is a touching salute to the joint effort with Vásquez, and an equally touching statement about the importance of the fantastic in literature. His conclusion indicates that we are made of the most personal things that we suffer, the books that we read, the others that we encounter. It establishes the importance of this joint effort in Borges’ mind in 1979.

[10] Jorge Luis Borges and María Esther Vásquez. Introducción a la Literatura Inglesa. Buenos Aires: Columba, 1965. Vásquez has also been a biographer and also compiler of Borges’ works; see her Borges: Imágenes, memorias, diálogos. Caracas, Venezuela: Monte Avila Editores, 1977.

[11] In various places the translation given for this half-line is “be not afraid,” and attributed to Borges and Kodama (this seems unlikely, since their knowledge of Old English grammar, especially inflections, seems good). On another question to do with the grave and tombstone, there was in 2009 a plan for a law to be passed by parliament in Argentina to repatriate Borges from Geneva to his family tomb in Recoleta in time for the 110th anniversary of his birth. His widow met with the legislator and dissuaded her; this concern with the bones of Borges certainly has medieval overtones.

[12] Gonzalo Salvador argues that Ulfilas and his translation of the Bible are the first element of the survey because Borges understood the importance of the Bible both in medieval thinking and as the point of departure for his own literary output. This seems unlikely; Borges is fastidiously chronological in the survey, and Ulfilas came first. See Gonzalo Salvador, Borges y la Biblia. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2011. pp. 47-8. Salvador is rare, possibly unique, amongst Borges’ modern critics in paying attention to his medieval Germanic interests. The only other individual that I can find who hints at a link between Borges’ love of northern medieval texts and his religious and spiritual interests is María Kodama de Borges, “Jorge Luis Borges, Religions and the Mystical Experience,” in Jorge Luis Borges: Thought and Knowledge in the XXth Century. Eds. Alfonso de Toro and Fernando de Toro. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 1999. Pp. 15-27.

[13] Nueve ensayos dantescos. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1982.

[14] The bestiary was first drafted in 1957 as Manual de zoología fantástica, and later developed and expanded (1967 and 1969) and published as El Libro de los Seres Imaginarios with Margarita Guerrero. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1978. It has wonderful entries: alongside the expected griffin, the Chinese unicorn, and the Cheshire Cat (and his antecedents the cats of Kilkenny), appear the animal dreamed up by Poe, spherical animals, and “los brownies” described as little servicemen dressed in brown who visit the farms of Scotland and help with the household tasks.

[15] See Alberto Manguel, With Borges. London: Telegram, 2006. P. 28. Elsewhere in the book Manguel offers more specific identification of the books. He also notes, concerning a close friend of Borges, that “[h]e loved France and French literature as much as Borges loved England and the literature of the Anglo-Saxons” (pp. 54-5).

[16] Manguel, With Borges, p. 38.

[17] Borges describes the story as an extended metaphor on many occasions; see, for example, “Funes y el insomnio” (“Funes and insomnia”), in Roberto Alifano, Conversaciones con Borges. Buenos Aires: Editorial Debate, 1986. Pp. 205-208.

[18] The field of Borges criticism is vast indeed, and I cannot pretend to have read every word. However, I can find little or no trace of his medievalist inclinations mentioned. Few interviewers even encourage him to discuss his Germanic literary interests in any detail; for one interview in which the interlocutor actually indicates knowledge of The Kenningar from 1933, see Dante Escobar Plata, Las Obsesiones de Borges. Buenos Aires: Distal, 1988. Pp. 42-44. Escobar Plata moves from asking questions about kennings to questions about metaphor, and clearly understands the linkage in Borges’ own mind.

[19] Nicholas Perkins and David Clark, “Introduction,” in Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination. Ed. David Clark and Nicholas Perkins. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010. Pp. 1-12 at p. 9.

[20] The first detailed analysis of Borges’ knowledge of Old English is forthcoming in Studies in Medievalism. I was privileged to review the paper and it is a detailed and powerful study, so good that I read it once, wrote my strong recommendation to publish as is, and deleted it at once. I do not know the author, but I recommend it strongly. Much more, however, does remain to be done in the field.

[21] P. 9.

(via Old English Newsletter)