Back in the thirties, Borges worked for an Argentinean women’s magazine called El Hogar–a magazine of middle-class attitudes and presumptions, roughly similar to Redbook in America today. I hadn’t known about these pieces until a few days ago, when I started reading Selected Non-Fictions, the wonderful volume that Viking has published. Borges’s prose is nutty and funny and unexpected at almost every turn. Here’s an example, from a portrait of Theodore Dreiser, the American writer:

Dreiser’s head is an arduous, monumental head, geological in character, a head of the afflicted Prometheus bound to the Caucasus, and which, across the inexorable centuries, has become ingrained with the Caucasus and now has a fundamental component of rock that is pained by life. Dreiser’s work is no different from his tragic face: it is as torpid as the mountains or the deserts, but like them it is important in an elemental and inarticulate way….