Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Country of the Word

William H. Gass in his essay, "Imaginary Borges and His Books", in Fiction and the Figures of Life: the country of the word, Borges is well traveled, and has some of the habits of a seasoned, if not jaded, journeyor. What? see Mont Saint Michel again? that tourist trap? far better to sip a local wine in a small café, watch a vineyard comb its hillside. There are a thousand overlooked delights in every language, similarities and parallels to be remarked, and even the mightiest monuments have their neglected beauties, their unexplored crannies; then, too, it has been frequently observed that our childhood haunts, though possibly less spectacular, less perfect, than other, better advertised, places, can be the source of a fuller pleasure for us because out familiarity with them is deep and early and complete, because the place is ours; while for other regions we simply have a strange affinity--they do not threaten, like Dante or the Alps, to overwhelm us--and we somehow find our interests, our designs, reflected in them. Or is it we who function as the silvered glass? Idea for a frightening story.

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