Born in 1899, Borges died in 1986 at the age of eighty-six. His first published work in 1923 —Fervor de Buenos, a book of poems.
Borges, who many consider the father of magic realism, published these stories in 1970. It had been almost twenty years since he had written and published short stories.
His earlier work, both short and novel length stories were far more complex, filled with labyrinths revealing divergent paths, parallel universes and time that meandered.
These stories, written in a more accessible fashion, still take unusual turns.
One critic referred to them as prose poems. If one definition of a prose poem is vivid imagery and concentrated expression then I'd agree. Add to that Borges's restrained revelations and unusual conclusions and the stories often are mesmerizing.
In some stories objects become people and people become objects. A knife, in two stories, has a mind of it's own. The knife pursues someone and acting independently kills that person.
People metamorphose into other personages or objects— reminding me of Kafka.
The story that stays with me: "The Gospel According to Mark." According to Gabriel Josipvici, " Borges himself admits that it is ' perhaps the best of this collection." The story tantalizes the reader as it follows the biblical story— yet set in Argentina.
It's progression to an ending—deliberate, paced, and despite being inevitable, stuns the reader.
Borges uses the story to explicate his own view of religion.
Jorge Luis Borges. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK (1970) Translated by Norrnan Thomas di Giovanni in collaboration with the author .
The Gospel According to Mark