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Words of Wisdom

Jorge Luis Borges on Life Experience and Art

"A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art."

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) was an Argentine writer and a major figures of the South American literary canon. His collection of short stories A Universal History of Infamy (1935) is often touted as the forerunner of magical realism. Borges went blind at the age of 55 and never learned braille, meaning he spent the final thirty-one years of his life unable to read. He died of liver cancer in 1986 and is buried in Geneva.


“A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”

from Twenty Conversations with Borges, Including a Selection of Poems: Interviews by Roberto Alifano, 1981–1983 (1984) [h/t Wikiquote]

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