Galeano on Borges: "elitist, racist, very reactionary"

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at
Sat Dec 2 19:33:34 MST 2000

En relación a Galeano on Borges: "elitist, racist, very reactio,
el 2 Dec 00, a las 13:30, Louis Proyect dijo:

> Eduardo Galeano: ...
> Borges, on the other hand, has never had a special place in my heart. I
> don't feel the electricity of life in his work. I admire his style, his
> skill, his craftmanship. He was an intellectual, a man with only a head. No
> heart, no sex, no stomach -- just a head. A brilliant, super-smart head. But he
> was elitist, racist, very reactionary. He paid homage to military dictators like
> General Videla in Argentina and Pinochet in Chile. I don't feel close to him. He
> was un escritor sentado -- a seated writer, an intellectal in the library.

Yessss, yesssss, yesssir! So that Galeano shares my views on that old craftsman
who had nothing to do with actual life!

By the way, the void of feelings in Borges is what made him the best
representative of the Argentinean oligarchy, a class to which he did not belong
actually. This class was absolutely sterile as regards art and human feelings,
save for their well trained rage against our people and their love for the
laziness and futility of a life of rentiers.

As to Borges, he was more of a high middle class environment, and during the
30s he was given a post at a City Library in Buenos Aires through the offices
of one of his oligarchic patrons, Victoria Ocampo, so that he could go on
living with some degree of dignity. In fact, he did no work at all there, and
one of the characteristically ironic, brutal and absolutely fair acts of
justice of Peronism was that he was transferred to another job in the Buenos
Aires Municipal administration, that of inspector of henhouses!

He is said to have attempted a failed suicide the night that his friend Estela
Canto, a translator who truly belonged to the oligarchy, bought him the clothes
to attend an oligarchic party and ended the ball by telling him "No, Jorge, you
do not belong to us". A despicable character, but worse yet, a person unable to
dare a deep feeling of any kind. And the oligarchs and the pro-oligarchic
"leftists" still want to make this nothing into a "national poet"!

> Neruda was engaged with the world in a different way. In his poems, we see the
> celebration of life, of fruit, of the sea, of love.
> Are you suggesting that Neruda was a better writer -- or a better man --
> because of his left-wing politics? The passage on Borges in Memory of Fire
> doesn't seem as generous as your portrayal of Neruda.

There is a mistake here. Neruda was a man, Borges was an empty container with
the shape of a man. Galeano is right again when he says:

> Perhaps it's true that, in the book, I am more generous to Neruda than to
> Borges, but not because of their respective political commitments. Reading
> Neruda, I feel that here is somebody who was living through the horrors and
> marvels of life, and was falling and rising up again, and was hurt by the blows
> of love and time and death. I feel there is an electricity of life inside some
> of Neruda's works that is missing from most of Borges's works. In some of
> Borges's works I feel it, but always in a painful way, as something sad -- but
> very valuable too.

As Borges himself was (once) honest enough to say: "I have made the worst sin a
person can make: I have not been happy".

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

More information about the Marxism mailing list