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This Craft of Verse by Jorge Luis Borges
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Fairly interesting and Borges is as eminently likable speaking as himself as he is speaking under one of his thousands of guises--he has the combination of intelligence (and necessary lack of confidence in it) and depth of feeling needed to avoid academic posturing and mouth-breathing. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
"Whistler said, 'Art happens.' That is to say, there is something mysterious about art. I would like to take his words in a new sense. I shall say: Art happens every time we read a poem." His Charles Eliot Norton Lectures show how passionate and unconventional -- as well as conservative -- his relationship with poetry was. In these lectures Borges expands upon this notion and shares his view of the craft of Poetry. Reading the lectures inspires one to return to Borges poetry again and again. Like all of Borges' work it is magical and worthy of consideration by readers and writers alike. ( )
  jwhenderson | Feb 28, 2013 |
Most years since 1925, Harvard University has invited an accomplished writer or artist to give a series of lectures regarding “poetry in the broadest sense.” Speakers have included T.S. Eliot, Czeslaw Milosz, Aaron Copland, and John Cage. In 1967, they chose one of my favorite writers: Jorge Luis Borges. These six lectures sat in the Harvard audio archives for 30 years before they were found and transcribed for the next generation. His series, entitled “This Craft of Verse,” illustrates not only a theory of poetry, but also Borges’s connection to his readers and the world.

Each of the six lectures takes on a different aspect of both poetry itself and Borges’s interaction with it. He deals with engagement, metaphor, translation, epicness, philosophy, and finally, his own approach to writing and poetry. He speaks (we have to keep in mind that these were lectures when they were first presented) in two minds. The first is of one who has been reading and writing for the last five decades; the second is someone who is always tentative when approaching great literature and great writing.

Even though he was 66 years old at the time, his lectures always seem to have a sense of deference to the material he talks about. He constantly mentions that his knowledge and ability are nowhere near those he has read. He laments the loss in the collective memory of so many past writers—the Spanish poet Rafael Cansinos-Assens, Byron, Keat—and how these great voices still play in his mind.

Many times during this book, I imagined myself as one of the bright-eyed scholars of Harvard, sitting in the audience and receiving the wisdom of a great author. I hoped that a few people in attendance were able to get something out of his words. He says of poetry: “[M]eaning is not important—what is important is a certain music, a certain way of saying things. Maybe, though the music may not be there, you will feel it. Or rather, since I know you are very kind, you will invent it for me.”

There is a tremendous sense of grandfatherly love in the lectures, as if he spent his entire figuring out one small piece of the world and is trying to tell us all about it. I could read this book over and over. I consumed this book; if I could, I would have clawed at the pages for more. Borges’s language is simple but still, much like the truth, resists simplicity. A definite five-star read. ( )
4 vote NielsenGW | Jan 24, 2013 |
Showing 3 of 3
Much of the material in This Craft of Verse centers on poetry and verse, though really it extends to include all writing. From what makes poetry poetry to the use of metaphor and the problems of translation to his own approach to writing, Borges offers both genial and ingenious commentary.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674008200, Paperback)

Available in cloth, paper, or audio CD

Through a twist of fate that the author of Labyrinths himself would have relished, these lost lectures given in English at Harvard in 1967-1968 by Jorge Luis Borges return to us now, a recovered tale of a life-long love affair with literature and the English language. Transcribed from tapes only recently discovered, This Craft of Verse captures the cadences, candor, wit, and remarkable erudition of one of the most extraordinary and enduring literary voices of the twentieth century. In its wide-ranging commentary and exquisite insights, the book stands as a deeply personal yet far-reaching introduction to the pleasures of the word, and as a first-hand testimony to the life of literature.

Though his avowed topic is poetry, Borges explores subjects ranging from prose forms (especially the novel), literary history, and translation theory to philosophical aspects of literature in particular and communication in general. Probably the best-read citizen of the globe in his day, he draws on a wealth of examples from literature in modern and medieval English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, and Chinese, speaking with characteristic eloquence on Plato, the Norse kenningar, Byron, Poe, Chesterton, Joyce, and Frost, as well as on translations of Homer, the Bible, and the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

Whether discussing metaphor, epic poetry, the origins of verse, poetic meaning, or his own "poetic creed," Borges gives a performance as entertaining as it is intellectually engaging. A lesson in the love of literature and in the making of a unique literary sensibility, this is a sustained encounter with one of the writers by whom the twentieth century will be long remembered.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:03 -0400)

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