Combine travel writing, Sicily, and the short-story writer Jorge Luis Borges, and I’m all in. This is exactly what the Spanish journalist and critic Alejandro Luque does with his travel memoir, Borges in Sicily.
Like many readers today, Luque possesses a near-obsession with the universally acclaimed Argentinean writer. As a fan myself, I can easily muse on the idea of the master of dream-like philosophical short stories drifting across the mythic island of Sicily with it’s abundant Greek ruins, exotic influences, and long and complex history. It is indeed the perfect historical landscape for a metaphysical mind like Borges’.
“There is a Talmudic legend about three men who go in search of God. One became insane, the other died, and the third met himself.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges
In 2003, Luque engages in what he calls a “small grand tour around Sicily” along with 3 friends, following in the footsteps of Borges who took his tour of the island in 1984. Luque was able to do this by studying a book of photography of Borges’ trip taken by the renowned Sicilian Magnum photographer Ferdinando Scianna.
Grand Tour or not, Borges in Sicily is an engaging travel journal written by a first-time visitor to the island, and Luque’s interpretations of the peculiar Sicilian characteristics are insightful and fun. There are many references to different Sicilian literary figures, poets, and musicians, which swept me along on the journey.
And of course, many references and quotes are included by the master of the mystical, Borges himself. Luque’s thoughts and insights are philosophical, deep and thought-provoking also; and it’s clear that this was an authentic journey of discovery both internally and externally, for the author as well as his subject. As it turns out, Borges in Sicily was indeed a delightful journey.
“We walk slowly. I close my eyes. I’m not sorry to leave behind the abstract semidarkness of centuries, the swell of remote voices fading little by little at each step we take; instead we have the pleasure of rejoining the hustle and bustle, in the common light of the here and now.” ~ Alejandro Luque – Borges in Sicily
A brilliant little book by a Spanish journalist, Alejandro Luque, who retraces the journey of Sicily taken by the great writer Luis Borges near the end of the Argentinian’s life. Filled with quotes and reminiscents by/of Borges, it is part travel journal, part literary muse. For the author it was a discovery of Sicily, as well as a further realization of his fascination with Borges; two worthy endeavors! Loved the book.