An afternoon with Borges in Buenos Aires

Wednesday, 30 April, 2014

In 1976, Patrick Richardson was an impoverished, 25-year-old writer, living in a garret in Amsterdam. To escape the oncoming Dutch winter, he set off to Latin America. You won’t believe what happened next. Well, you can, actually, because this is not an Upworthy story. In Buenos Aires, he met his literary hero, Jorge Luis Borges. Snippet:

“Have you read my stories?”

“All of them!”

“I have done my best, although I must apologise for their poor quality.” Borges was renowned for his humility, authentic or otherwise.

“No, really, you’re too modest.”

A playful expression flitted across his countenance. “Perhaps you are familiar with the story of what occurred when Goethe visited a brothel in Hanover?”

“No, but I’d love to hear it.”

The long, convoluted story, which I have forgotten, lasted for five minutes, until he questioned me about my journey in South America and my life in Amsterdam as a writer. At last, after what seemed a lifetime, a man in a stone-coloured suit came down the gangway, mounted the steps on to the stage, and leant over him. “It’s time to go, Señor Borges,” he said in a hushed voice. “You have an appointment at three.”

An afternoon with Jorge Luis Borges is published in today’s Independent.

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