This volume collects a few pieces not found in Collected Fictions including “Nightmares,” “Kafka and His Precursors,” “The Wall and the Books,” and “Blindness,” plus several famous, masterful tales.
In “Blindness,” Borges discusses the various qualities of his blindness, along with similar instances in literary history: Milton, Joyce, Homer. A strange current of poetic and visual grasp of language connects them. I could read Borges on literature endlessly. His essay style is approachable and as fascinating as his fiction.
In “Nightmares,” he gives us an impressive and captivating essay on the topic of dreams. Per usual, he captures dozens of literary references without sounding didactic, and stimulates the mind and imagination of the the reader with the finely tuned instrument of his own. It reminded me of many dreams I’ve had, in which whole histories and lifetimes blossom and die during the nocturnal interval. Dreams are intimately associated with desires. So in a dream a writer may dream that he or she has written a slew of books which do not exist in reality, one can recall pieces of those fake books upon awaking in the same way that a writer can recall fondly many parts of the books they have actually written – where then, is that ephemeral data conjured, stored, or manifested? Where are the remaining segments of these dream books? If you are wandering down a hallway in a dream, you may hear sounds beyond closed doorways. What is happening behind those doors, in invisible dream rooms? Why does the mind feel the need to fill the unseen rooms with inhabitants? A very thought-provoking essay.
All of Borges’ writings should be cherished and reread throughout one’s life.