The Scientific Indian

Borges on Writers and Readers

From the preface of his Collected Fictions translated by Andrew Hurley.

Reading is an activity subsequent to writing–more resigned, more civil, more intellectual. (1935)

The learned doctors of the Great Vehicle teach us that the essential characteristic of the universe is its emptiness. They are certainly correct with respect to the tiny part of the universe that is this book. Gallows and pirates fill its pages, and the word iniquity strikes awe in its title, but under all the storm and lightning, there is nothing. It is all just appearence, a surface of images–which is why readers may, perhaps, enjoy it. The man who made it was a pitiable sort of creature, but he found amusement in writing it; it is to be hoped that some echo of that pleasure may reach its readers. (1954)

The second quote iluminates the first, doesn’t it? The writer goes on a wild adventure, a passionate flight of fancy with few boundaries. But the reader, he can’t do that. He willingly confines himself or herself to the imagination of the writer. The reader, by the very nature of her undertaking, is a more generous person than the writer?