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This article is taken from PN Review 194, Volume 36 Number 6, July - August 2010.

Red Herrings and Other Distractions: Borges in Conversation Matías Serra Bradford

On the one and only occasion on which I saw Borges I must have been no older than ten, early 1980s, walking along the main pedestrian street in Buenos Aires, just across Harrods’ sole branch abroad, now extinct, hand in hand with my paternal grandfather. It was of course my grandfather – a one-time sympathiser of Borges’s worst enemy, Peronism – who pointed him out to me: an elderly man holding the arm of an Eastern-looking younger woman, and what appeared to be a far more sophisticated stick than the one I used to cross swords with my brothers in the darkening mulberry light after school. Two or three years later I watched Borges on TV in one of his frequent ping-pongs with local journalists. (It mustn’t be forgotten that as a blind man – a typical one in this respect – Borges welcomed most opportunities to talk to someone, no matter who or what about.) I remember that something he said made me smile, or laugh, rather, and my grandfather, who was also with me then, couldn’t suppress the shade of a smile either, though he made it clear he was not that keen on Borges the man.

A slightly older version of that boy, who is now a more flawless ghost to me, used to spend wintry afternoons in search of chess books at Foyles. It was during my first trip to London – according to Borges ‘a benign labyrinth’ – in January 1986 that ...


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