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Doctor Brodie's Report (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 30 Jan 1992

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Paperback, 30 Jan 1992

Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Jan. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140180273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140180275
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 0.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,172,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


[Borges] renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish-American novelists. (J.M. Coetzee, "The New York Review of Books") Hurley's efforts at retranslating Borges are not anything but heroic. His versions are clear, elegant, crystalline. ("The Times Literary Supplement") --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Borges was born in Buenos Aires in 1899. A poet, critic and short story writer, he received numerous awards for his work including the 1961 International Publisher's Prize (shared with Samuel Beckett). He died in 1986. He has a reasonable claim, with Kafka and Joyce, to be the most influential writer of the twentieth century. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By samlkelly on 27 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
How Borges was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature I (and many others) cannot even comprehend. Part English, part Jewish, mostly Argentinian, and having learnt to read and write English before Spanish despite being born and growing up in Buenos Aires, he is noted for anglicising his mother tongue somewhat. Maybe this is why he seems to translate so wonderfully into English. His worlds are at times earthly, at times other-worldly, but always have something haunting about them, and his economy with words is well noted.
As pointed out in the notes by the excellent translator Andrew Hurley, these two collections (the book also contains the prose fictions from "In Praise Of Darkness", published the previous year in 1969) were written by Borges after a long period of inactivity in short-story writing terms, at a time when, at the age of 70 in Argentina, he must have felt he was nearing the end of his life (he didn't actually die until 1986) and blindness was taking its toll on him. If you (like me) had previously only read Borges's more cerebral writings (such as "Fictions"), you're in for a bit of a shock. Some of these stories would give Tarantino nightmares. Some knowledge of Latin American and Argentinian culture and history does help (I have a very small amount of this since my girlfriend is Argentinian), but Hurley provides the really essential bits of this in his notes.
I read this book cover to cover in a few days. Then did so again. I am sure the notes mention somewhere that due to his blindness Borges had to dictate it to his mother (how old she'd have been when her son was 70 I know not), though it may have been his sister acting as his secretary by this stage in his life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Borges at 70 Remains Uniquely Borgesian 18 July 2007
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Borges I first encountered was the intellectual lecturer and essayist of Seven Nights. Later I marveled at his mystical, fantastical short stories found in Labyrinths, Ficciones, and The Aleph. The scholarly researcher was most clearly revealed by The Book of Imaginary Beings, and the poet by Dreamtigers. Now with this short collection, Doctor Brodie's Report, I have discovered yet another dimension of the remarkable Borges.

These short stories are more pragmatic, more straight-forwardly constructed, and more journalistic in their structure than his earlier imaginative stories on which his reputation is largely founded. In many cases these later tales involve some violence. Rivalries and duels, historical military accounts, and seamy slums are found in these works by the more realistic Borges. However, two stories - The Gospel According to Mark and the title story, Doctor Brodie's Report - are more imaginative, and thus classically Borgesian in their outlook.

Doctor Brodie's Report (1970) consists of only eleven stories:

The Intruder (1966) - a rivalry between brothers, The Meeting (1969) - a duel manipulated by the weapons themselves, Rosendo's Tale (1969) - a duel avoided, Doctor Brodie's Report (1970) - classic Borgesian imagination, The Duel (1970) - aristocratic, artistic rivalry, The Elder Lady (1970) - a disturbing biographical account, The End of the Duel (1970) - an actual event unbelievable as fiction, The Gospel According to Mark (1970) - a shocking story of forgiveness, Guayaquil (1970) - old rivalries surface in unexpected setting, Juan Murana (1970) - cherished love leads to fatal violence, and The Unworthy Friend (1970) - an account of betrayal, perhaps biographical.

Borges - in collaboration with Norman Thomas di Giovanni - translated these stories into English more or less simultaneously as they were written. I was familiar with The Intruder and Rosendo's Tale from The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933-1969. The others were entirely new to me. All stories are quite exceptional.

It is difficult to give less than five stars to Borges, but fairness requires an occasional four stars, if only to separate the truly superb Borges from simply exceptional Borges.

My copy is a 1978 softcover reprint edition by E. P. Dutton publishers (ISBN 0-525-47541-9). It contains a short Forward and the Preface to the First Edition (1970).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
diamonds in a healthy lawn 5 May 2005
By Pf. Pfister - Published on
Format: Paperback
Hooray! Here is Borges as accessible as I have read him. While I certainly enjoyed Labyrinths and others of his essays, I preferred Doctor Brodie's Report. The writing is tauter and the insights are less buried--each piece here has a fairly straight-forward point, even if the reader arrives there only after several Borgesian twists and transmogrifications.

The first story in the collection is especially poignant, as it satirizes the quest for a Christ-like life. Revealing us to ourselves is one of the themes he expresses best here. Other political themes recur as well, and despite being a little depressing (he hardly wrote during the best of times), it is impossible not to laugh.

In fact, maybe this book is Borges for the masses. So be it! It's fun, it's a great introduction, and it will whet appetites for more of his puzzles. Super-readers can move on to other weirdoes, like Donald Barthelme.
The strange 4 Jan. 2014
By Ron Washburn - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a casual book, one you can simply read in passing while waiting for a train. Sit down in a quiet place with good lighting and a drink. The stories contained will require your full attention, and you will be changed forever.
One Collection, Many Universes 15 Dec. 2012
By Glenn Russell - Published on
Format: Paperback
Welcome to the many universes of Jorge Luis Borges. The stories in this collection, Doctor Brodie's Report, were written in Spanish and then translated into English in close collaboration with Norman Thomas de Giovanni, closing the usually gap between writing and translating, the writing and translating occurring simultaneously, or, more exactly, what Borges cites in the forward as "more or less simultaneous."

This is a good book of Borges to start with, since the stories are written in an accessible, straightforward way. I read this book thirty years ago and decided to go back and reread these tales with attention and care so their storylines and key images would press themselves permanently into my memory. As it turned out, this was a thoroughly rewarding experience. Borges shows us how one event or encounter can be a decisive turning point in our lives. Frequently we are under the impression we can define who we are and people and objects around us as singular and fixed, but, for Borges, we humans are each an entire universe, and what appears to be a simple object can have a rich history and life far outliving any being made of flesh and blood.

In the first story, The Gospel According to Mark, we meet Baltasar Espinosa, a medical student with an unlimited kindness and capacity for public speaking, a young man who didn't like arguing, preferring rather having his listener right and who was fascinated by the probabilities of chance in games but was a bad player himself since games gave him no pleasure in winning. Borges writes how Baltasar (his name is also the name of one of the three wise men) has a wide, undirected intelligence and is not lacking in spirit. What happens to this medical student when he stays on a ranch with his textbooks, grows a beard, and reads the Gospel of Mark at the dinner table? How wise is he when he answers the father's questions about hell and how Christ let himself be killed? I wouldn't want to spoil the story by revealing the ending, but let me simply say that Baltasar's last name, Espinosa, means `crown of thorns.'

With The Unworthy Friend Borges tells us our image of a city is always slightly out of date. How many cities exist that you call a city? I myself have a mental picture of New York City, a city I have visited dozens of times, but how accurate is my picture? Indeed, every time I return from a visit my picture changes. Borges plays with moving memories in this story told in first person but first person one step removed, that is, the narrator gives us the story told to him in a Buenos Aires book shop, a story where the narrator is told "Friendship is no less a mystery than love or any other aspect of this confusion we call life." How mysterious and how deep? Mysterious and deep enough to be the abiding memory of youth for an old man.

I have read a number of books on indigenous tribes people by cultural anthropologies such as Raymond Firth and Colin Turnbull, but I have never encountered a study quite like the one in the last story in this collection, Doctor Brodie's Report. In this nine page story, the good doctor's report tells us the Yahoo have no vowels, no real memory, no number greater than four, no notion of fatherhood, and a god that is "a blind, mutilated, stunted being . . ." Like all the stories in this collection, Doctor Brodie's Report is remarkable and unforgettable. Borges is absolutely my favorite story teller and this collection is one of my very favorites.
Why is he so good... Great bedside read for deeper considerations - 5 Sept. 2014
By Chris Dall - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can only imagine the trouble the author caused over a lifetime, but, if I had to liken it to anything, I'd have to say he puts the "World's Most Interesting Man," from the commercials, to shame...
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