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January 20, 1985|KENNETH FUNSTEN

Seven Nights by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Eliot Weinberger (New Directions: $14, hardcover; $5.95, paperback). The revered Argentine poet and prose writer has had to make his living lecturing--for more than 40 years. This book collects his heavily corrected versions of seven such evenings. Proper, plain use of syntax gives them the fluidity of good talk, but Borges' distilled meanings read like strings of epigrams and pith. Special are appreciations of Dante's "Divine Comedy" and the anonymous "Thousand and One Nights." "Blindness" touches on Homer and Milton but concentrates on Borges himself. Inheriting gradual loss of sight that has left him unable to read since 1955, Borges nevertheless believes that this--like all life--has purpose: "Those things are given to us to transform, so that we may make from the miserable circumstances of our lives things that are eternal, or aspire to be so."

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