Self-Published Borges

The first published book of Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinian poet and short-story writer, was Fervor de Buenos Aires. Borges later wrote, “Fervor de Buenos Aires foreshadows everything I would do afterward.”

It was a slapdash production, Borges claimed in his autobiography: “The book was actually printed in five days; the printing had to be rushed, because it was necessary for us to return to Europe. . . . [It] was produced in a somewhat boyish spirit. No proofreading was done, no table of contents was provided, and the pages were unnumbered. My sister made a woodcut for the cover, and three hundred copies were printed. . . .  Most of them I just gave away.”

As Graciela Mochkovsky writes in the Paris Review, “Every self-respecting collector of his works owns a copy from that first edition. Few copies remain—only 150, according to Casares, with no more than fifteen in circulation.”

So: Who knows what might happen with today’s self-published books? Is there a Borges hiding somewhere on Amazon.com? One doubts it. But, who knows?


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