from “Firing Line” (1977) with William F. Buckley Jr.; Guest: Jorge Luis Borges

In 1977, the renowned Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges engaged in a remarkable conversation with the American conservative William F. Buckley Jr. on “Firing Line.” This conversation, available on YouTube, centered on the subtleties of language and its impact on literature and society.

Borges, a master of the Spanish language and one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, surprisingly expressed his preference for English. He considered English a nuanced and rich language compared to other languages, including his native Spanish. When asked about his preference, Borges explained that English has a vast range of words and expressions, partly due to its origin as a Germanic and a Latin language. The richness of the English language makes it an ideal language for conveying complex ideas and emotions.

I find English a far finer language than Spanish. Why?

Jorge Luis Borges

Borges also emphasized the critical role of translation in preserving the beauty and meaning of texts. As a passionate translator himself, he emphasized the importance of capturing and preserving the spirit and essence of the original work in translations, so that readers can experience the true beauty and meaning of the text.

Borges’ appreciation of language and translation highlights how our cultures and experiences are deeply rooted in the languages we use. Precise expression of ideas and emotions is crucial to understanding our world and the world of others.

The conversation between Borges and Buckley highlights the significance of recognizing and appreciating the complexity and beauty of different languages. This understanding enables us to bridge cultural divides and appreciate the world of literature and culture.

In a time when cultural exchange and understanding are more important than ever, the conversation between these two great thinkers serves as a reminder of the power of language and its role in shaping our world.

Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.: Borges: South America’s Titan
Source / Copywrite:

Episode S0267, Recorded on February 1, 1977

Guest: Jorge Luis Borges

For more information about this program, see:…

For more information about the Firing Line broadcast records at the Hoover Institution Archives, see:…

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