‘Everyone knows that the South begins on the other side of Avenida Rivadavia.’
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
« El Sur »
‘It is my best story and the first part is autobiographical: it is the story of my accident. You can feel on my forehead, if you want, the topography or orography of that accident’ (Borges el memorioso).
Are we really to believe Borges, a writer who ignored the fine line between reality and fiction, when he said The South was the account of the accident he had on Christmas Eve 1938?
Borges did in fact suffer from blood poisoning that caused fever and hallucinations, like the narrator. If it were not for the continual switch between real life and fiction, Borges’ story would seem nothing more than a simple anecdote.
Deciphering Borges’ microscopic handwriting, is particularly moving when you know that two years later he would become completely blind.
The text was published in La Nación in February 1953 and was included in the final 1956 edition of Ficciones. The book’s composition, experimenting with symmetry and contrast, results in two of the autographs in the collection mirroring one another: Uqbar is reflected in The South, a text that, more than any other, is a true Argentinian ‘product’.
Click on the image to view.