This blog discussed in previous posts the disgraceful situation in which the definitive Borges/di Giovanni translations, which were the result of a close, day-by-day collaboration between Borges and di Giovanni, are no longer available in bookshops due to the eccentric directions of Borges's widow Maria Kodama. Kodama has arranged for grossly inferior translations to be made through Andrew Hurley, translations which now constitute the "official" (i.e. approved by Kodama) version of Borges's work available in the English language.
Before the great Borges/di Giovanni translations, Borges was known in the English language largely through a set of highly uneven translations by a wide variety of translators. Such translations were often agreed by Borges in his earlier years made as a means of getting rid of persistent people. This was precisely the situation which Borges later set out to resolve through definitive translations. Borges's close collaboration with di Giovanni, whom Borges invited to Buenos Aires, over four years from 1968-71, yielded English translations of such virtuosity that they established Borges's reputation as an international literary giant. They were more than translations; they were an opportunity for Borges to revise his life's writing, and constituted his last consistent literary effort. Borges himself described them as his definitive work. Since their replacement by the Hurley translations, an almost perfect reversal has taken place. In the English language at least, Borges is being transformed once more through Hurley's inferior translations from an international literary titan into a largely unknown and obscure Spanish master. Borges himself would have perceived the irony of his re-translation into obscurity through a second-rate translator. It is a fitting subject for one of his metaphysical fictions. Meanwhile, we can only regret that such irony appears to be beyond Borges's widow and her literary agent Andrew Wylie, otherwise known as The Jackal.