Borges and the Eternal Orangutans (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
In Borges and the Eternal Orangutans, Brazilian writer Luis Fernando Verissimo offers a brilliant literary tour de force: The novel is at once an homage to the great Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges; a classic detective story; a study of conspiracy theory; a philosophical treatise on geography and coincidence; and a send-up of all of the above. Verissimo uses a style reminiscent of Borges’s detective stories, mixing facts from Borges’s life with fictional details created for the book and drawing on many of Borges’s favorite themes.
The narrator of the book is Vogelstein, a fifty-year old scholar of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Vogelstein structures his tale as a letter to Borges. He writes the book, he says, to remember the events that took place at the 1985 meeting of the Israfel Society, a group devoted to the study of Poe, in Buenos Aires. (Fittingly, Borges, the writer of stories such as “Borges and I,” is doubled in the book: He is both the party to whom the book is addressed and a main character in the action of the story.)
“Geography is destiny,” Vogelstein begins, and geography and coincidence play major roles in the story. The Israfel Society has invited the aged Borges to speak at the society’s first meeting held outside the Northern Hemisphere. For Vogelstein, this is a happy coincidence. Not only does he belong to the society, he also idolizes Borges, and the meeting is sufficiently close to his home...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101 (June 1, 2005): 1757.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 6 (March 15, 2005): 316.
Library Journal, July 15, 2005, p. 71.
The New York Times, August 28. 2005, section 7, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 15 (April 11, 2005): 32.
The Seattle Times, August 14, 2005, p. K7.
The Washington Post Book World, July 17, 2005, p. T02.
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