efe-epaBy Tono Gil Buenos Aires

The limitless imagination writer Jorge Luis Borges displayed still amazes the world today 120 years after his birth in Buenos Aires.

Borges left a deep mark in history not only for his ingenious prose but for his very particular sense of humor.

Since he was only a child, Borges showed great interest in literature that would lead him to become a universal author and one of the most important writers, essayists, and poets of the contemporary world.

His figure is also key in Spanish-American Literature due to works that inspired several generations of writers.

Alejandro Vaccaro, the author of "Borges, life and literature" (2006), is a Borges biographer who has studied the author’s life and work for twenty years.

The researcher now heads the Argentine Society of Writers, a position that Borges also held between 1950 and 1953.

"It's like the sun, you don't have to get far away because it is slightly hot, but if you get too close it burns," Vaccaro told Efe.

The "concise" prose Borges crafted and his "beautiful" use of words "not seen in other writers" charmed Vaccaro.

Until his death in Geneva (Switzerland) in 1986, the famous writer built a legacy of stories, poems, and essays, with works such as "Fictions" (1944) and "The Aleph” (1949), although Borges confessed he was not proud of this period.

"Let others boast of the pages they have written; I'm proud of the ones I've read," Borges said.

His passion for reading pushed him to work as a librarian from 1937 to 1945 at a time he was already popular for his creations.

Ten years later he became the director of the Argentinian Library National Library Argentina, a position he held until 1974.

"It is very difficult to talk about a writer of the mid-twentieth century who has not felt the impact of Borges' work," the biographer said when naming Mario Vargas Llosa, Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco as examples.

Vaccaro is still waiting for the answers of questions, such as what was on Borges’ mind? And how did he come up with the unlikely situations that he presented in his stories?

"It is very difficult to place yourself in a mind with so much knowledge, he saw beyond everybody else," he added.

One important part of Borges’ character was sarcasm, a tool that he would use in his stories and also when talking about other works.

"Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) is a great novel, although perhaps fifty years would have been enough," Borges commented about one of Gabriel García Márquez masterpieces.

Vaccaro thinks that Borges' political position, anti-Peronist and conservative, not only generated controversy but also marked a distance between him and another great figure of Argentine literature, Julio Cortázar.

Borges' widow, María Kodama, had said on different occasions that her husband had never won the Nobel Prize in Literature due to "political issues".

The writer became blind in 1955 and, at the end of his life, he moved to Geneva to prevent the Argentine media from reporting on his life as he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Several weeks before his death, Borges sent a letter to Efe where he said he felt "mysteriously happy" being an "invisible man" in the Swiss city.

"I am a free man.

"I have decided to stay in Geneva because Geneva corresponds to the happiest years of my life.

"My Buenos Aires is still that of the guitars, of the milongas, of the water tanks, of the courtyards.

"Nothing of that exists now.

"It is a great city like so many others," he said in the letter. EFE-EPA

tgf/vm/ch