Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A reminder:

that the first appearance of Jorge Luis Borges in English* was a translation of "The Garden of Forking Paths" by Anthony Boucher--science fiction writer and reviewer, early mentor to Philip K. Dick, founding co-editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction--for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

*I think. It's possible that it was just the first American appearance, but many sources say or heavily imply first English-language. If not first, then very, very early.

This isn't intended as some juvenile pissing-contest "genre wins" neener-neener. Honestly I don't care that much for Borges, though conceptually I know I should (in practice I usually find him off-puttingly smug and macho); I care far less for "genre," at least as usually constituted and discussed; I have no interest in Ellery Queen; and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Boucher's translation were poor, for though he was an important and often an exceptionally good editor, he was at best a middling writer.

If I have a point, it's simply to remind us that literary history is a lot more complicated, a lot messier, and a lot less rigid than we usually allow it to be.

P.S. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia also tells me that Borges wrote an Introduction to American Literature that mentions (though I have no idea in what context) H.P. Lovecraft, Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and, be still my heart, A.E. van Vogt.
P.P.S. If anything could finally motivate me to learn Spanish, it might be the prospect of reading translations of van Vogt.
P.P.P.S. That was probably a joke.

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