Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song

Borges on Audio
Borges on Audio is a bit of an eclectic collection, ranging from recordings of his actual voice to spoken word performances in musical works. To provide some organization, these entries are arranged in three groups:

Borges in His Own Voice
Books on Tape

If you find that some of my information is out of date, or if you know of another work, please mail it to me!

Borges in His Own Voice

Borges: por él mismo sus poemas y su voz

Jorge Luis Borges

1. AMB Discografia 123-1; LP. Out of Print. [Browse/Hear Samples]

2. Visor, 1999; ISBN A8475224288; CD, $23.80 [Browse/Purchase]

A classic album of Borges reading from own works -- poetry, songs, and other fragments. According to the University of Notre Dame Archive, the album:

contains some of Borges' most well known poetry from his first publications, Luna de enfrente and Cuaderno San Martín, to his later works, El hacedor and El otro, el mismo. Before some of the poems, Borges briefly talks about the motive or the circumstances which inspired him to write it. These introductions give the listener a sense of what it would be like to sit with Borges among the company of his most intimate friends and listen to the "maestro" recite and comment on his poetry. As José Edmundo Clemente comments on the back of the album jacket, "Solamente la voz tiene la frescura del presente. Lo digo porque ningún texto reemplazará la felicidad de oír al propio Borges decir los versos de Borges." (trans: "Only the voice has the freshness of the present. I say this because no text will ever be able to recreate the joy of listening to Borges recite his own poetry.")

The original LP is tracked as follows:

Lado 1
1. El General Quiroga va en coche al muere (1.42)
2. Poema conjetural (2.50)
3. Fundación mítica de Buenos Aires (2.26)
4. Un soldado de Urbina (0.50)
5. A un viejo poeta (0.50)
6. Baltasar Gracián (2.20)
7. El Gólem (4.23)

Lado 2
1. El tango (3.25)
2. Milonga de dos hermanos (1.15)
3. Milonga de Jacinto Chiclana (1.50)
4. Alusión a una sombra de mil ochocientos noventa y tantos (0.50)
5. La noche cíclica (2.45)
6. Límites (2.21)
7. A un poeta menor de la antología (1.25)
8. Everness (0.50)
9. Spinoza (0.47)
10. Poema de los dones (2.38)
11. Le Regret D'Heraclite (0.12)

In 1999, Borges por él mismo was re-released on CD by Visor, with an accompanying 48-page booklet.

Borges por Borges

Jorge Luis Borges
Sello: Secretaría de Cultura/Presidencia de la Nación, 1999; 1 CD
. [Listen to Samples]

This Argentine disc features several segments of Borges speaking, reading from his work, or reciting poetry. Terra's Web site features numerous samples from the work, available on RealAudio:

Página para recordar al Coronel Suárez, vencedor en Junín
El Gólem
Borges y yo
Milonga de dos hermanos
Milonga de Jacinto Chiclana
La noche que en el sur lo velaron
El poeta declara su nombradía
Le regret d´Heclarite
Poema de los dones

This Craft of Verse

Jorge Luis Borges
Edited by Calin-Andrei Mihailescu
University of Harvard Press, 2000,
ISBN 0-674-00587-3; 4 CD Set, $24.95. [Browse/Purchase]

From 1967 to 1968, Jorge Luis Borges delivered the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University. Having never been transcribed, they were subsequently assumed lost -- until the end of the century, when a dusty recording was discovered in a library vault. There, committed to magnetic memory, was a voice from thirty-odd years ago, the voice of a poet himself now silent for half again that time. A voice perhaps even more vital today, after the long and often controversial course of postmodernism has delivered us to a new millennium; a voice urging us to keep language alive.
In a welcome move sure to delight countless Borges fans, Harvard has also released the lectures as a 4-CD set. While the packaging is somewhat of a disappointment -- the CDs come tucked in the pockets of a flimsy and awkwardly-shaped cardboard folder, and little documentation is provided -- the sound quality is surprisingly good, and the price is very reasonable.
I will be providing more comments just as soon as I have finished listening to the CD set. For a review of the lectures themselves, The Garden has a full description and review of This Craft of Verse online as a "New Book Feature."

Books on Tape

Selected Fictions (Penguin Audiobooks)

Read by George Guidall.
Translated by Andrew Hurley. Produced & abridged by John McElroy.
Penguin Audiobooks, ISBN 0-14-086848-8; 4 Cassettes, $24.95. Out of Print. [
Browse/Purchase Used]

Released to support Viking's Collected Fictions, this set of four cassettes presents abridged versions of Borges stories as read by the actor George Guidall. It contains the following stories and prose pieces:

Man on Pink Corner
The Lottery in Babylon
The Garden of Forking Paths
Death and the Compass
The Aleph
The Maker
Parable of Cervantes and the Quixote
The Story of Rosendo Juarez
Borges and I
The Zahir
August 25, 1983
Shakespeare's Memory
The Circular Ruins
The Library of Babel
The Immortal
The Encounter

Garden visitor Robert Rodriguez reviews the set:

This collection of four audio cassettes is quite out of print, as e-mails to several Web merchants confirmed, one indicating that even their OP contact had never seen them. Of course, who would still have them unsold, or what owner of them would part with them?
Guidall is a consummately intelligent reader, his skill and voice aptly suited to the precise yet abstract quality of Borges' fiction. Guidall does not condescend to contrived accents or dramatizations. His expression and intonation strike the perfect note. Hence, the tense inscrutability of the Chinese narrator in "The Garden of Forking Paths," the guttural German of "Death and the Compass," the arrogant civility of Argentinos in "The Aleph," and the quiet consternation of the narrator in "The Aleph," "The Zahir," "Shakespeare's Memory" and "Borges and I." All the favorites are here, though I wonder how an Irish accent in "Shape of the Sword" or the Arabic of "The Mirror of Ink" would read with Guidall. Only in "Man on Pink Corner" does Guidall use a street-wise Spanish accent, which, however, accords perfectly with this "realistic" story.
The collection is called Selected not because the stories are abridged but
the selection is.
I listened to a copy borrowed as an interlibrary loan from my local public library. Somewhere in the Library of Babel are multiple copies of this wonderful collection of audiotapes that are inaudible or hopelessly scrambled, and certainly no one can own.
NOTE: In "Borges and I," Guidall reads "seventeenth" century typefaces, not Hurley's "eighteenth." My original (Obras completas, Emecé, 1974) clears says "siglo XVIII".

Here is the capsule review from AudioFile.

Anyone who has struggled through the erudite complexities of a Borges story -- or tried to introduce a class to the beauties of language and imagination of the great Argentinean fabulist -- will treasure this excellent selection of 17 unabridged stories, newly translated by Andrew Hurley. Only a skilled reader like Guidall could achieve the range and enunciation needed to do Borges justice; and though Guidall's occasional use of a Spanish accent adds artificiality to a story already deliberately artificial, he proves in story after story that Borges read aloud is Borges at his best. Highlights include "The Garden of Forking Paths," "Shakespeare's Memory" and "Borges and I."
--D.A.Walton ©AudioFile, Portland, Maine

Those wishing to learn more about George Guidall's credits may check out the Guidall Page on the Internet Movie Database.

The Old Patagonia Express (Books on Tape)

By Paul Theroux
Read by Michael Pritchard
Books on Tape, Catalog #1871
Unabridged; Twelve 90-minute cassettes; Rental Price $14.95; Purchase Price $48.00.
Browse / Purchase/ Rent]

This is not a book by Borges. It is a travelogue by Paul Theroux, and contains an anecdote of meeting Borges in Argentina. According to the Books on Tape Web site:

In THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS, Theroux rides the more or less continuous track from his home in Boston to the Great Plain of Patagonia in southern Argentina. His writer's eye misses no detail, and he serves up delights such as the brawling soccer fans of El Salvador, a bogus priest in Cali, and a desperate American woman searching for her lover in Veracruz. To this he adds an extraordinary account of his meeting with author Jorge Luis Borges in Argentina.

I have not heard this, and I would welcome any reviews or commentary.


The Palace

Read/Sung by Philip Larson
Music by Roger Reynolds
Compact Disc; Lovely Music Records.

A setting of the poem "The Palace" by avant-garde composer Roger Reynolds. This work is fully detailed on The Palace page at the Garden's "Music" section.

--Allen B. Ruch
21 January 2004

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