Borges, Jorge Luis
An ardent admirer of Joyce, this blind Argentine mentions him several times in his writings, and was one of the first Spanish-language reviewers of Ulysses. He’s also written two poems about James Joyce: “James Joyce,” and “Invocation to Joyce.” Here are some of the more interesting references to Joyce from some of his essays and lectures.
“I believed, and still believe, that some twenty-five hundred years ago there was a prince of Nepal named Siddhartha or Gautama who became the Buddha, the Enlightened or Awakened One – as opposed to the rest of us who are sleeping or are dreaming this great dream that is life. I remember that line of Joyce: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Well, Siddhartha, at age thirty, woke up and became the Buddha. – 1977 Lecture: “Buddhism” - Jorge Luis Borges
We have these two vast and – why not say it? – unreadable novels, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. But that is only half of his work (which also includes beautiful poems and the admirable Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). The other half, and perhaps the most redeeming aspect (as they now say) is the fact that he took on the almost infinite English language. That language – which is statistically larger than all the others and offers so many possibilities for the writer, particularly in its concrete verbs – was not enough for him. Joyce, an Irishman, recalled that Dublin had been founded by Danish Vikings. He studied Norwegian – he wrote a letter to Ibsen in Norwegian – and then he studied Greek, Latin … He knew all the languages, and he wrote in a language invented by himself, difficult to understand but marked by a strange music. Joyce brought a new music to English. And he said, valorously (and mendaciously) that “of all the things that have happened to me, I think that the least important was having been blind.” Part of his vast work was executed in darkness: polishing the sentences in his memory, working at times for a whole day on a single phrase, and then writing it and correcting it. All in the midst of blindness or periods of blindness.
– 1977 Lecture: “Blindness”