I’ve done most of my reading in English. I find English a far finer language than Spanish. For many reasons. Firstly, English is both a Germanic and a Latin language. Those two registers. For example, any idea you take, you have two words. Those words won’t mean exactly the same. For example, if I say ‘regal’, it’s not the exactly the same thing as saying ‘kingly. And if I say ‘fraternal’ it’s not the same thing as saying ‘brotherly’. Or ‘dark’ and ‘obscure’. You’ll recall the difference between the ‘Holy Spirit’ and the ‘Holy Ghost’, since ‘ghost’ is a fine, dark Saxon word, whereas ‘spirit’ is a light, Latin word. And there’s another reason, which is that of all languages, English is the most physical of all languages. You can do almost anything with prepositions.
— Borges, interview
The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things. Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.
I do not know which of us has written this page.
— Borges, ‘Borges and I’ (trans. J. Irby)