Google has celebrated what would have been the112th birthday of Jorge Luis Borges with a homepage doodle to celebrate the famous Argentine writer’s achievements; in particular his surreal approach to literature.
The doodle is a montage which shows an elderly man staring at a colourful labyrinth of staircases, forking paths and a library, which when clicked on returns search results for the Argentine maestro of the written word.
It makes particular reference to the Borges’ story ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ published in 1941 which the author described as a hypertext novel. Hypertext is the computer text which links readers immediately to other texts and so many consider the work as one that captures the spirit of what would eventually become the internet.
Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires on 24 August 1899. His family included British ancestry and so English along with Spanish were the principal languages of the home. Aged fifteen he moved with his family to Switzerland where he attended school.
Already fluent in English (Borges translated Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince into Spanish when he was nine) he learnt French and received his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. After living in Spain from the end of World War One, the family moved back to Argentina in 1921 .
There Borges started his career publishing poems and essays. His writing displayed much influence from American and European writers like Poe, Kipling, Chesterson and Twain and he soon became internationally renowned.
His first publication of short stories was The Garden of Forking Paths in 1941 and was later followed by perhaps his most famous collections, Fictions and El Aleph in 1944 and 1949 respectively. He later often collaborated with friend and fellow Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares.
Borges was stringently anti communist and anti Perón and often criticised fellow Latin American writers who had leftish tendencies. He had what some call a life-long fear of women and sex and despite being married, separated from his wife after three years and moved back in with his mother where he lived until her death at ninety-nine.
Borges himself, who had suffered a head injury in youth which left him nearly entirely blind during the last ten years of his life, died in Geneva on 14 June 1986 of liver cancer.
Despite a mammoth career which spanned decades Borges was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature but his writings continue to be widely read all around the world and he is perhaps Argentina’s most famous writer.