their murderous national honor than toncheat them at cards and bribe them withntheir own money? It’s too bad MissnThe Magic & Power of WordsnBorges: A Reader: A Selection from thenWritings of Jorge Luis Borges; edited bynEmir Rodriguez Monegal and AlastairnReid; E.P. Button; New York.nItalo Calvino: If on a winter’s night antraveler; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich;nNew York.nby Carson Dalynlogether, the Borges Reader (editednby Emir Monegal and Alastair Reid) andnItalo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night antraveler offer an excellent opportunity tonscrutinize what the major writers of thenmodern world are up to. Both the Argentinenand the Italian are literary heavyweightsnwho have thoroughly masterednthe craft and who have influencednreaders, imitators and critics. Borges hasnwritten so many essays, poems, parodies,nnovels and detective stories that hisnmyriad decorations, degrees and accoladesnrival the number of works fornwhich he has received them. Calvino,nnot yet so famous as Borges, is “a recognizednmaster of allegorical fantasy.”nThe Borges Reader is informative andnserviceable, containing poetry as well asnshort fictional sketches, essays and prosenselections. Some readers, of course, willnbe pleased to have such a variety ofnBorges’s works conveniently anthologizednin one volume, while others willncavil at the omissions necessary to achievensuch a goal. The real interest of thisnReader, however, lies neither in the specificninclusions nor in the general exclusions,nbut in the attitude towardnlanguage which Borges evinces in all ofnhis texts. As one critic remarked: “FornDr. Daly is professor of English at thenUniversity of Notre Dame.nKrementz wasn’t taking pictures whennRunyon was alive and looking us straightnin our eyes. DnBorges books and men are consubstantial,nand the world and the Word are onlyna letter apart. By imagining (as he oftenndoes) stories to be true, and truth a story,nBorges seeks to secure for himself an immortalitynsomewhat more literal thannmost writers aspire to. No other writer sondesperately wants to become a book,nnone is so concerned for his shelf-life.”nThese words suggest two facets ofnBorges’s attitude toward language. First,nhe relishes the artificial disguised as thenauthentic and the real masquerading asnthe fake because they enable him toncreate his own reality. In so doing, Borgesnattributes to language the power of annabsolute which simultaneously revealsnand conceals. Second, he manipulatesnthe revelatory and the mysteriousnthrough language, attempting to benmore than an author. By his fiction disguisednas fact he is vying for the positionsnof a linguistic high priest, of a magiciannpracticing semantic legerdemain, of angod conferring reality and unreality,nmortality and immortality.nBorges reveals himself in several ofnthese guises in the Reader. In hisn”Preface to the Unending Rose,” for example,nhe says, “The word must havenbeen in the beginning a magic symbol,nwhich the usury of time wore out. Thenmission of the poet should be to restorento the word, at least in a partial way, itsnprimitive and secret force.” Borges tracksnthis primitive and secret force in order tonconvey it in his own writing, to penetratenthe true meaning of the words he findsnelsewhere. Probably one of the most intriguingnstories in the Reader, “ThenHandwriting of God,” focuses on thisnsearch. The imprisoned narrator—anmagician who is the last of an order ofnpriests of an unnamed god—spendsnyears trying to fathom the symbolic mes­nnnsage that the god is trying to send himnbefore he finally realizes that the god hadnconfided “his message to the living skinnof the jaguar” in the cell next to his. Thenpriest devotes more years to learning thenconfiguration of the spots, fixing in hisnmind the “black forms running throughnthe yellow fiir.” In trying to decipher thisncode, he is confronted with the questionnwhich intrigues Borges: “What type ofnsentence . . . will an absolute mind construct?n… A god, I reflected, ought tonutter only a single word and in that wordnabsolute fullness.” Finally, he deciphersnthe divine formula and, in so doing, experiencesnthat which transcends languagenbut, paradoxically, he who cannnow read “the handwriting of God”nrefiases to decipher it for others becausenhe has passed out of the realm of languageninto the ineffable; “But I know I shallnnever say those words . . . Whoever hasnseen the universe, whoever has beheldnthe fiery designs of the universe, cannotnComments by Ranald Reagan, Edwin J.nFeulner. William F. Buckley. Jr.. JacquesnBarzun. Milton Friedman, Russell Kirk,nWlllard C. Butcher, Philip M. Crane, TomnWolfe and more…n… in The Rockford Institute’s 1981nannual report of progress.nSend us your name and address andnwe’ll send you a complimentary copynof our fifth anniversary report.n; SEND ME A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OFn1 THE ROCKFORD INSTITUTE’Sn1 1981 ANNUAL REPORT OF PROGRESSn1 Mail this coupon to:n1 The Rockford Institutenj 934 North Main StreetnRockford,IL 61103nNamen1 Addressn1 City State ZipnJniS9nJuly/Attgii8tl98Sn