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Buenos Aires, Borges and Sábato

This from the great Clive James:

” In Buenos Aires after World War II, there were two literary voices of incontestable international stature. The main difference between them was that only one was known to possess it. The whole world heard about Borges. But to get the point about Sábato, you had to go to Argentina. Both inhabitants of a beautiful but haunted city, both great writers, and both blind in their later lives, Borges and Sábato were linked by destiny but separated in spirit: a separation summed up in this single perception of Sábato’s, which was penetratingly true. Borges did fear the bitterness of reality, and he did take refuge in an invented world. Sábato’s fantastic novels were dedicated to including all the horrors of the real world and raising them to the status of dreams, so that they could become apprehensible to the imagination. Most of the dreams we recognize all too clearly. He didn’t need to search very far in order to find the stimulus for them. All he needed was the recent history of Argentina. In Borges, by contrast, the near past scarcely exists: In that respect his historical sense, like his Buenos Aires, is without contemporaneity.”

in Cultural Amnesia

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