Friends of Borges

"He who reads a line of Borges
(re)discovers the best library..." : Members' Events

[On the screen of the upper banner: Image of the beautiful and true "Ulrica", whose real name in life was Ulrike von Kühlmann (c.1955), the friend and patron of Jorge Luis Borges. She was a close friend of Greta Garbo, the lesbian diva of "zenithal shoulders" (to quote the genital allusion by the witty Borges) much admired by both friends. It was another writer, Ernesto Sábato, who introduced the Swedish Ulrike to Georgie.
But after the poet´s death appear another "Ulrica", a false one yet fairly auto proclaimed "queen of wolves" whose hysteric character was well analyzed by Borges in the true case of the Miss Emma Zunz, the girl who invented a sexual relationship with her boss to carry out a pathological neurotic revenge against her father, her boss and all others who are capable of reading and challenge her mythomania ...]

Praxis : Members' Events

"... I held for the first and last time the image of Ulrica"
confession of "Javier Otalora", a celibate old man ...
of his true name Jorge Luis Borges.


'Swedenborg is the first explorer of the other world. An explorer we should take seriously’
Sir Jorge Luis Borges

'Borges, Swedenborg & Mysticism'

Thursday 11th July 2013
at The Swedenborg Hall, London
20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London, WC1A 2TH
(nearest tube: Holborn)
7.00 pm (doors open at 6.30 pm)
Admission is free

Read also:
Un ensayo por Borges acerca de Swedenborg... [+]

'Swedenborg y Borges, del místico del Norte al místico in puribus' de Emilio R. Báez Rivera

´Borges y el misterio de Swedenborg'
Un Entravista de Christian Wildner con Borges Sobre Swedenborg ... [+]

Did Freud Accept Or Reject Mysticism? by R. Waxman

Freud and the Kabbalah


Séminaire Psychanalyse et éthique
par Daniel Sibony

à la Faculté de médecine - Paris Descartes, Pavillon 1
15, rue de l'Ecole de Médecine
75006 Paris – m° Odéon
de 19h à 21h

En 1ère partie:
Dialogue avec Philippe Sollers sur:
L'existence en littérature
Son dernier livre paru est: 'L'Eclaircie'

...more in the website of Daniel Sibony


The poet Patrick Early
reads and discusses his translations of Antonio Machado

This 28th September 2011, 19:30

at The Poetry Cafe
22 Betterton Street
Covent Garden
London WC2H 9BX

nearest tubes:
Holborn or Covent Garden

An evening in the series "The Trace they Wished to Leave" by Poetry in Translation
A reading of new translation of Pablo Neruda by Marina Sanchez will be also part of this evening
For more information or bookings, you are welcome to contact us by email


"The Lottery ticket" by David Guest wins the Chekhov Short Story Competition awarded by The Verb, at the BBC:

"She had been restive all day and I had dropped in twice to check on her. By the afternoon however, the sedatives were taking control and her features assumed a more refined composure. Outside, the trees and shrubs in her garden were ravaged by a fierce north wind but behind heavy curtains, the house was silent. I located the thermostat for the heating system and raised the temperature a little more. She might as well be comfortable for her final hours. Late in the evening I returned to the property and took her pulse. She was still sitting in the armchair, her tiny frame almost swallowed by the ample cushioning of its upholstery. The pulse was faint but regular, her breathing shallow and light.
Don’t worry, Clara, I said to her. It’s nearly over.

I boiled the kettle and made a cup of coffee for myself, then went to join her in the sitting room. She turned her head slightly and swallowed as I came in, her eyelids flickered momentarily. Then her head fell back, too heavy now to be raised to the world. I stroked the sallow skin on her wrist, so soft and warm to the touch. Then I gently raised her sleeve and fastened a tourniquet on her upper arm.

It’s been a long life, I told her gently. You’ve lived a long life. You’ve made it to the end.
Her blood pressure was very low.
And here you are in your own home, my dear. Not for you the indignities of the hospital ward.
For her to suffer in a cool, impersonal environment would be an injustice. How much better that she had retained her own dominion, the independence for which she had fought so vigorously in her younger years.
I opened my bag to make sure I had everything she might need. An insulin syringe, several ampoules of diapmorphine then I tapped her gently in the crook of her elbow to check the cephalitic vein and saw it pulsing silkily, the thin blue cord.

But not just yet. I sometimes despair at the impatience of my younger colleagues to rush straight to the brink. A moment like this should be treated with respect. It is not so much the end of life as its culmination. Clara had drunk deeply from the draughts of sorrow and joy and now in the final moments of existence, took on a luminous quality. Her body was preparing to journey on into that pathless land, with no earthly trappings, just the bare fact of her own soul.

She murmured slightly but although I bent close to her, the words were lost. I carried my bag through to the adjoining dining room where I set out the pad of death certificates and my fountain pen on the teak table-top. Then I contemplated her bookshelves. The eclecticism of her interests was apparent in the titles of philosophy and art history. Even a smattering of church history, and a two volume edition of Gibbon, well thumbed and broken at its bindings.
I read some verses of Manley Hopkins and skimmed through a glossy new hardback on English cathedrals before my attention was captured by the framed photographs on her walls. The thread of her existence was traced through them. The young woman with dimpled smile embarking on an ocean voyage, posing with her fellow actors on a dusty stage or clasping the hand of some long-forgotten dignitary. In later shots, her posture limned in assurance and authority, she was captured beside ministers of state, royalty, conferring degrees on students.
The clock in the dining room was chiming midnight as I dealt a deck of cards onto the table and played a few hands of patience. I have always preferred games of chance. Some may revel in the skill of a knight’s gambit or the athleticism of the sports field, but in the stillness of Clara’s rooms, each turn of a card was singing with the probabilities of the universe.

Later, I slid the purse from her handbag in the kitchen and was not surprised to find over a hundred pounds in cash. So many of my elderly patients seemed happy to carry around that kind of money. I left the cards of course and the car keys though she would have no further use for either but the notes I transferred to my own wallet. Tucked into the side pockets of her bag were other papers, a clutch of receipts and then, neatly folded, a brand new lottery ticket for the weekend’s draw.
I was struck by a sudden irritation. I knew very well she had no children, no spouse and had designated a number of worthy charities the beneficiaries of her estate. The futility of this final gesture annoyed me.
You silly girl, I told her. What are you wasting your money on this for? The chances of winning are next to nothing!
I shook my head sadly and fumbled in the kitchen drawers for a box of matches before burning the square of paper over the sink, dropping its embers into the waste.
Some time later, as I was pushing the expended syringe into the clinical disposal can, she stirred and filled the sitting room once more with the tenor of her voice. There were no distinct words by this time, only the echo of some distant memory. It is often the way in these fading moments, as old footsteps are re-trodden for a final time. I seated myself on her elegant furniture, to wait. I could not consider leaving her to face the fading light alone.
She was well dressed, her expression calm, retaining the dignity which had been apparent throughout our acquaintance. At one thirty-five, I took up my pen and wrote out her final chapter." more in The Verb, at the BBC website

Read also Anton Chekhov's The Lottery Ticket


Woody Allen rewards Spanish alter ego with role in new film: The actor that millions of Spanish speakers know as the voice of Woody Allen is to feature in the director’s upcoming film, set in Barcelona.
But for the first time in more than 20 Woody Allen films, Joan Pera’s appearance will be completely silent — he doesn’t speak a word of English. “It’s something I have always dreamt of,” said Mr Pera, who has been Allen’s Spanish and Catalan voice for nearly two decades. “I thought it could happen, but I really didn’t expect it to.” The director’s loyal following in Spain is at least partly due to the talents of Mr Pera. For anyone used to seeing his films in English, his rendition of Allen sounds completely wrong. But Mr Pera has been able to translate Allen’s neurotic New York persona into something that resonates with Spanish audiences, and turned the director into a much-loved figure in the process. “For me, he is the absolute personification of Woody Allen,” says Juan Carlos Rodríguez, a 38-year old journalist from Madrid. “I have heard his voice all my life, so it would be strange to hear another.” Allen’s last two films — Match Point and Scoop — were set in London after the director apparently tired of filming in New York. However, many Londoners grumbled about their portrayal in the films, which they felt was unrealistic and often bizarre. Scoop did not even go on general release in Britain. Barcelona, by contrast, is delighted to be hosting Mr Allen’s latest film. The director has been declared “a Friend of Barcelona” and local politicians are queueing up to be photographed with him. The film as yet has no title, but is known to feature the Spanish actors Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Mr Bardem played the main role in the Oscar-winning film, Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside). Ms Cruz was nominated for an Oscar this year for her part in Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver. Filming is set to begin this summer. Virtually everything is dubbed in Spain, a tradition that began in 1941 when the dictator Francisco Franco made it compulsory in 1941 as a way to censor unwanted content. Today, even television ads using Spanish actors are routinely dubbed, as if it would be odd to have lips moving in time with voices. Some cinemas have recently sprung up in big cities that show the original, subtitled versions of foreign films. But outside of Madrid and Barcelona, most viewers will have to watch Helen Mirren’s cut-glass vowels in The Queen transformed into a lisping Castillian accent. Mr Allen has come to love his voice in Spanish, and has met Mr Pera a number of times. The last time, in 2003, Allen joked that Mr Pera made him sound more heroic than he really was. In return, Mr Pera congratulated Allen on playing himself “almost as well as I do”. ...more in The Times

'Unloved' Woody Allen to quit United Kingdom: First New York tired of Woody Allen; now the neurotic director has decided London does not appreciate him either and has opted to take his film maker’s art to Spain. Allen, 71, moved from Manhattan three years ago, first to make Match Point with Scarlett Johansson, then Scoop, and finally rejected the lure of Paris to film a third movie in London, Cassandra’s Dream. He said that he loved filming in Britain because of the creative freedom and the “beautiful” grey skies. He embraced the capital’s landmarks such as the Royal Opera House, the “gherkin” skyscraper, Tate Modern and the London Eye. Scoop, made in 2006, failed to get a cinema release in Britain, however, and there are already questions over Cassandra’s Dream, which was shot last summer with Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell and Tamzin Outhwaite. Now Allen has felt it necessary to move on again. In June he will quit Britain and make his next film in Barcelona. It will star Penelope Cruz, who was most recently seen in Volver. He may also cast Johansson again. Jordi Hereu, the mayor of Barcelona, has long been a fan of Allen and the two men have had several meetings. Although most of the film will be shot in the Catalan capital, he will also shoot in Oviedo in the north. “For some cities and countries, having Woody Allen making a film there is like a papal visit,” said Adam Dawtrey, European editor of Variety magazine, the film industry journal. Nonetheless Allen, who claims that he pays no attention to reviews or box office grosses, is running out of audiences and financial backing. He once scored regular critical hits with films such as Annie Hall, Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters, but in the past decade his movies have lost their cachet. In 1992 his then girlfriend Mia Farrow found pictures of Soon-Yi Previn, her adopted daughter, naked. Allen, who was having an affair with the girl, split with Farrow; Soon-Yi became his third wife in 1997. The Hollywood studios had wearied of Allen, who always resisted playing by their rules, and eventually Jean Doumaniam, his long-time producer and friend, refused to back him any more. When Allen looked abroad for help the BBC came to his rescue and funded most of Match Point. The corporation also put up £500,000 towards the £2m needed for Scoop, but instead of a hoped for cinematic release last year it went straight to DVD. Scoop, which featured Johansson as an American trainee journalist in London, as well as Ian McShane and Allen himself, was meant to be a comedy. “But it wasn’t funny,” said Graham McCann, a biographer of Allen. According to McCann, Allen failed to find his touch in England. He described Match Point, a murder mystery romance set at Wimbledon, as the “movie of a visitor to London”. He added: “The film seemed in a time warp, although it was meant to be set now.” Allen also showed that he had a tin ear for British dialogue as nearly all the characters spoke in stilted upper-class accents. Or, as Dawtrey put it: “Match Point was not social realism.” Dawtrey suggested that Allen made a tactical mistake in moving to Britain: “Most Americans disliked him and his films because he gave the impression that he was superior to them. Europe liked him and his films because he reinforced our belief that we were intellectually superior to the Americans. [He then] made the mistake of actually making them here.” ...more in The Times

Poet and publisher Alessandro Gallenzi has stepped in to ensure that the Calder Bookshop remains in The Cut and continues to be a focus for literary talks and events: John Calder, founder of Calder Publications & Bookshop, was joined by Alessandro Gallenzi to make the formal announcement during last week's Thursday night poetry evening. During February it was revealed that the shop would close unless a buyer was found. John Calder expressed concern about the loss of his shop manager who had moved back to Scotland and a pending rent rise. Last month Calder Publications sold its rights to Samuel Beckett's works to Faber. Now Alma Books, founded by Alessandro Gallenzi, and Oneworld Classics of Oxford have stepped in to ensure that Calder Publications survives along with its well-known shop opposite the Young Vic theatre in The Cut. Alessandro Gallenzi confirmed that Calder Publications will continue as a separate company and with its own imprint. John Calder is remaining part of the company and host of the popular literary evenings. "I expect to go on working for nothing for the new people but I'm going to give rather more time to my own writing and to my theatre company, the Godot Company" declared the 80 year old author and publisher. The Rome-born and now Richmond-based Alessandro Gallenzi, who also founded the Hesperus Press, runs the Alma Press with his wife Elisabetta Minervini. 'Alma' is Spanish for 'soul' and was chosen to emphasise the importance they place in quality rather quick mass market sales. Oneworld Classics is an independent publisher launched this year by Juliet Mabey and Novin Doostdar of Oneworld Publications and Alma Books. [from the Southbank Newsletter in SE1]

The Calder Bookshop Theatre
51 The Cut, London SE1
(Opposite to The Young Vic Theatre)
Box Office Tel. 020 7593 1520

Publisher John Calder has been a champion of great writing through the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st: Beckett, Miller, Robbe-Grillet, Duras, Barker, Trocchi to name a but a few. He may soon be forced, through rising rents and lack of subsidy, to leave his eclectic bookshop at 51 the Cut, Waterloo where The Bookshop Theatre, London's tiniest theatre, has been home to the Godot Company. This 40 seat performance space was created last year to present short plays and readings within the context of an independent bookshop: Theatre and Bookshop - two Davids in a world of Goliaths.

We invite you to see this talented and dedicated company perform the work of a playwright some regard as the greatest writer since Shakespeare [except for Borges of whom Beckett was a contemporary - in 1961 both shared the Formentor Prize awarded by a number of publishing houses which implies a simultaneous publication or their works in many European languages.].
If the experience inspires you to help us find a new home or rescue the present one then all the better.


EXERCISE IN STYLE (Queneau) March 29 Thursdays

BECKETT'S WOMEN March 16, 23, 30 Fridays

From 13th to the 30th of March the Godot Company * perform a three week season of Samuel Beckett's shorter works, the best of last years 6 month season plus readings from 3 European writers.
Every Tuesday/Wednesday and Friday at 7pm for 1 hour. Tickets £7 (£5 concessions)

* Virginia Byron, Karin Fernald, Tamara Hinchco, Michael Howarth, Tim Hardy, Oengus MacNamara, Alex McConnell, Jim McManus, Stuart Marquis, Peter Marinker, Peter Pacey, Tony Rohr, Alison Skilbeck, Tracey Wood & Michael David.

John Calder is about to auction copyright of Samuel Beckett: The British copyrights to much of the oeuvre of Samuel Beckett may soon be up for auction following the decision of his Scottish publisher, John Calder, to retire at the age of 80. Calder, described by Scotland on Sunday as the country's greatest publisher and "an enfant terrible of the Swinging Sixties", owns the rights to 19 winners of the Nobel prize for literature and has published writers as diverse as Eugene Ionesco, Marguerite Duras, Henry Miller and William Burroughs. First to bid for Beckett's novels is expected to be Faber & Faber, which owns the copyright to Waiting for Godot. Calder applied to the great man's French publisher in 1955, just too late to secure the plays, and they were snaffled by Faber. Calder said at the weekend: "I have been at it for 58 years and I can't keep going for ever. Like a family dog, I want to see it go to a good home."... read more in The Guardian

On Borges and his friends
Interview to the poet Betina Edelberg
A fragment on Borges, his Mother and women.

National Radio of Argentina, 24 August 2002
Turn on the radio to listen in Spanish a fragment of the interview in Spanish
The full interview can be listen at the private Members Club



Sir Derek Walcott, Poet & Playwright, a Nobel Laureate dies at 87 years...
William Shakespeare is 400 years young! Join the Celebrations in the World's stage...
Daniel Sibony's Seminar 2019-20 in Paris ...
'Anatomy of Influence', a new work by Harold Bloom ...
Bioy reveals in his diaries that his lifelong companion Borges lived his final years in fear of the "bizarre" character of his assistant Miss Kodama...


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