Quotations by Borges, Jorge Luis


Any life, however long and complicated it may be, actually consists of a single moment — the moment when a man knows forever more who he is.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“A Biography of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz”, The Aleph (1949) [tr. Hurley (1998)]

Alt. trans.: "Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment -- the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-13
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I found America the friendliest, most forgiving, and most generous nation I had ever visited. We South Americans tend to think of things in terms of convenience, whereas people in the United States approach things ethically. This — amateur Protestant that I am — I admired above all. It even helped me overlook skyscrapers, paper bags, television, plastics, and the unholy jungle of gadgets.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“Autobiographical Notes,” The New Yorker (19 Sep 1970)
Added on 11-Mar-15 | Last updated 11-Mar-15
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The flattery of posterity is not worth much more than contemporary flattery, which is worth nothing.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“Dead Men’s Dialogue,” Dreamtigers (1960)
Added on 3-Sep-13 | Last updated 3-Sep-13
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To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“Deutches Requiem” [tr. Palley (1958)]
Added on 30-Jul-13 | Last updated 16-Jul-13
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Myth is at the beginning of literature, and also at its end.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“Parable of Cervantes and Don Quixote” (Jan 1955)

Alt. trans. by A. Hurley, "In the beginning of literature there is myth, as there is also in the end of it."
Added on 20-Aug-13 | Last updated 20-Aug-13
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Every novel is an ideal plane inserted into the realm of reality.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“Partial Magic in the Quixote”, Labyrinths (1964)
Added on 13-Aug-13 | Last updated 13-Aug-13
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I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“Poema de los Dones”, Dreamtigers [El Hacedor] (1960)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-13
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His many years had reduced and polished him the way water smooths and polishes a stone or generations of men polish a proverb.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“The Man on the Threshold”, The Aleph (1949) [tr. Hurley (1998)]


See also Borges "The South [El Sur]," La Nación (1953): "On the floor, and hanging on to the bar, squatted an old man, immobile as an object. His years had reduced and polished him as water does a stone or the generations of men do a sentence." (Alt. trans. [Hurley (1998)]: "On the floor, curled against the bar, lay an old man, as motionless as an object. The many years had worn him away and polished him, as a stone is worn smooth by running water or a saying is polished by generations of mankind.")

Added on 6-Aug-13 | Last updated 6-Aug-13
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To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible god.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
“The Meeting in a Dream”, Other Inquisitions [Otras Inquisiciones] (1952) [tr. Simms (1964)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-13
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While money cannot buy happiness, the advantages of poverty have been greatly exaggerated.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Heaven and hell seem out of proportion to me: the actions of men do not deserve so much.

[El infierno y el paraíso me parecen desproporcionados. Los actos de los hombres no merecen tanto.]

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
(Attributed)

Quoted in Pilar Bravo and Mario Paoletti, ed., Borges Verbal (1999).
Added on 17-Sep-13 | Last updated 17-Sep-13
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As Boileau said, “La réalité n’est pas toujours vraisemblable.” Reality is not always probable, or likely. But if you’re writing a story, you have to make it as plausible as you can, because if not, the reader’s imagination will reject it.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
Discussion published in the Columbia University Forum (1971)
    (Source)

Often quoted without the first sentence, referring to Boileau, making it seem as if it is purely Borges' statement.
Added on 24-Sep-13 | Last updated 24-Sep-13
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Being conservative is a way of being skeptic.

[Ser conservador es una forma de ser escéptico.]

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
Interview in Revista Extra (Jul 1976)
    (Source)
Added on 10-Sep-13 | Last updated 10-Sep-13
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The Falklands thing was a fight between two bald men over a comb.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
Quoted in Time (14 Feb 1983)

On the Falklands War.
Added on 27-Aug-13 | Last updated 27-Aug-13
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Dictatorships foster oppression, dictatorships foster servitude, dictatorships foster cruelty; more abominable is the fact that they foster idiocy.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentine writer
Statement to the Argentine Society of Letters (c.1946)
Added on 16-Jul-13 | Last updated 16-Jul-13
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