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How Borges Wrote

Daniel Balderston

BUY Cloth · 392 pp. · 7 × 9 · ISBN 9780813939643 · $49.50 · May 2018
BUY Ebook · 392 pp. · ISBN 9780813939650 · $49.50 · May 2018

A distinguished poet and essayist and one of the finest writers of short stories in world letters, Jorge Luis Borges deliberately and regularly altered his work by extensive revision. In this volume, renowned Borges scholar Daniel Balderston undertakes to piece together Borges's creative process through the marks he left on paper.

Balderston has consulted over 170 manuscripts and primary documents to reconstruct the creative process by which Borges arrived at his final published texts. How Borges Wrote is organized around the stages of his writing process, from notes on his reading and brainstorming sessions to his compositional notebooks, revisions to various drafts, and even corrections in already-published works. The book includes hundreds of reproductions of Borges’s manuscripts, allowing the reader to see clearly how he revised and "thought" on paper. The manuscripts studied include many of Borges’s most celebrated stories and essays--"The Aleph," "Kafka and His Precursors," "The Cult of the Phoenix," "The Garden of Forking Paths," "Emma Zunz," and many others--as well as lesser known but important works such as his 1930 biography of the poet Evaristo Carriego.

As the first and only attempt at a systematic and comprehensive study of the trajectory of Borges's creative process, this will become a definitive work for all scholars who wish to trace how Borges wrote.


Daniel Balderston is one of the leading Borges scholars of our time, internationally respected both for the depth and extent of his knowledge and for his meticulous scholarship. How Borges Wrote is the first comprehensive book published on Borges’s composition techniques and promises to be the definitive study for the foreseeable future. A monumental work.

Evelyn Fishburn, University College London, author of Hidden Pleasures in Borges's Fiction and coauthor of A Dictionary of Borges

In a sophisticated and probing study of hundreds of manuscripts and notebooks, Daniel Balderston sheds light on Borges’s creative process by analyzing how the Argentine author used marginal annotations, textual excisions and insertions, and mathematical symbols to produce some of the most original pieces of literature in the twentieth century. Balderston’s extraordinary erudition and refined critical skills dramatically transform our understanding of Borges’s work—and shape the way it will be read in the future.

Fernando Degiovanni, The Graduate Center, CUNY, author of Los textos de la patria: Nacionalismo, políticas culturales y canon en Argentina

About the Author: 

Daniel Balderston is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Out of Context: Historical Reference and the Representation of Reality in Borges.

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