Literary Scholar Edits New Series of Writings by Jorge Luis Borges
By ANDREA ESTRADA
||Suzanne Jill Levine
A NEW FIVE-volume series of works by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges has been published by Penguin Classics under the general editorship of Suzanne Jill Levine, a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese who teaches Latin American literature and translation studies. The series includes poems and essays never before published in volume form in Spanish or English.
Two of the books — “Poems of the Night” and “The Sonnets” — came out in early April during National Poetry Month. The other three — “On Writing,” “On Mysticism,” and “On Argentina” — will be available later this month. “Poems of the Night” and “The Sonnets” are dual language editions with parallel text.
While serving as general editor of the entire series, Levine also edited and wrote the introduction and notes for the volume “On Writing,” which she developed as an anthology of Borges’s ideas and aesthetics beginning with his early work of the 1920’s. “It includes some of his earliest commentaries, which most people haven’t even had access to in Spanish,” she said.
Born in Buenos Aires, Borges was a prolific poet, essayist, and short story writer until his death in 1986. Among his most famous works are “Ficciones” and “The Aleph,” both of which are compilations of short stories connected by common themes.
“I am so thrilled about this project, not only because of the new material it brings to the English-reading public, but also because of how well the collaboration worked with my co-editors and translators,” said Levine. “In some ways, translation is a naturally collaborative act because you’re working — implicitly — with the original writer. I am glad to say that my co-editors were well chosen for their volumes, and working with them was a wonderful experience.”
In addition to Borges, Levine has translated a number of significant Spanish and Latin American writers over the course of her career, including Manuel Puig, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Julio Cortázar. Many of her translations have recently been reissued, such as her 1973 translation of Puig’s novel, Heartbreak Tango, which was published in February in a new edition by Dalkey Archive. Levine is also the author of The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction and Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions, published by Dalkey Archive and Farrar Straus & Giroux, respectively.