Friday, June 13, 2008

Borges Etc

We had a visit from Alberto Manguel today.

Crockatt & Powell are the new suppliers of his beautiful library and we were surprised - but very pleased - to see him stroll through the doors of our own "infinite library" this morning. (You need to come to the shop to appreciate the effect but, thanks to a couple of well-placed mirrors - we do have an infinite number of books in the shop)

First we asked him to sign some of the many books of his we keep in stock. He was pleased to see a Hardback copy of his recent "biography" of Homer's The Iliad and the Odyssey. There were several "terrible typos" that he proceeded to correct! Needless to say that particular book is now mine...

We then moved on to discuss translations of Borges. We keep an edition of the Collected Fictions on the table at all times and he proceeded to tear the translation to pieces. I asked what folk should do if they wanted to appreciate Borges properly and he replied "learn Spanish".

I was extremely chuffed to have such a bibliophile in the shop and hope to take him up on a kind offer to visit his wonderful house in France at some point in the (sadly distant) future when I am able to take holidays again...

Not bad for Friday 13th.


  1. OOh! OOH! Matthew! Which one of the shops?!!

    Strange, we were talking about the Borges translations just the other day -

    which version did he not like? the (yummy) Di Giovanni or the (yukky) Hurley? (my personal opinion, mind, but just read the 2 versions- you'll see what I mean)

    by coincidence, our friend from Salamanca said just last week:
    "Without wishing to sound pretentious I have tended to read Borges, when I have had cause to recently, in Spanish. It is a shame if these new translations are not up to it, he's such an important writer.

    Alberto Manguel like a lot of contemporary writers pops up as a columnist in El País from time to time. I used one of his articles in a tertulia once, so always feel good when I see his name."

    He sends his regards.

  2. Just don't bring along a copy of American Psycho as a housewarming gift ;-)

  3. Hector ProtectorJune 16, 2008

    hey guys, what's the feeling about your old pal Mr Daunt re-opening the Pan Bookshop? Room for two down there or would he be better set on opening against a Waterstone's rather than unsettling a fellow indie.
    It seems a particularly aggressive move to me. Surely there are other parts of affluent London he could settle in.
    Or is it 'nothing personal'.

  4. Hi "f" - 345 shop.

    It was the Hurley he ripped to shreds.

    He also said he couldn't understand why the publisher insisted on dividing Borges's work into one edition of Fiction and one of Non-Fiction since one othe main things Borges had attempted to do was blur the lines between genres...

    Hector - I don't think aggression comes into it. James is interested in this area for the same reasons we are - it's bookseller heaven.

  5. Oh, I love Alberto Manguel. I've had the opportunity to chat with him a few times as I work for (one of) his Canadian publishers. He recently was the keynote speaker at a Canadian library conference and just wowed them with his talk about the importance of becoming real readers in society. A truly inspiring speech for anyone who works in the book industry. You can read more about it and get a link to the full text of his talk at
    I'm not surprised at all he's ordering his books from your bookstore. Kudos to you.