Borges and Irish Writing

A wide-ranging programme of events in Buenos Aires on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, which was the decisive moment in the emergence of the sovereign Irish State in which there was an important Argentine connection, provided an opportunity to explore and celebrate the unique historical and cultural relationship between Ireland and Argentina.

The programme included an expansive bibliographical exhibition compiled by the Argentine National Library in 2016 which focussed on the influence of Irish literature on Argentine writing. In that context, J.J. Delaney set out to complete his earlier work on the distinctive impact of Irish literature on the writing of Jorge Luis Borges. In this volume of jargon-free prose, Delaney successfully conveys the range and depth of Borges’ creative reception of Irish writing from Jonathan Swift and Bishop Berkeley through Lord Dunsany and George Moore to James Joyce and Flann O’Brien. Delaney illustrates convincingly the debts to Irish writers which Borges revealed as well as those which he did not divulge. In the latter case, he argues that Borges –“a composer for whose works the Irish verbal music became a significant component”- absorbed works such as Gulliver’s Travels and At-Swim-Two-Birds so fully that he himself was not always entirely aware of the true impact of Irish writers on his own labyrinthine creations. Borges was, from the beginning, a writer attuned to the classical traditions and epics of many cultures. Delaney’s volume is an essential and succinct guide to the influence of Ireland and Irish writing on his work.

Justin Harman
Irish Ambassador
Buenos Aires, December 2016