Jorge Luis Borges: The man behind the Google Doodle
Jorge Luis Borges, known for his speculative fiction writing, is celebrated with a Google Doodle today. The illustration resembles Borges' own work, a peek into the future from the perspective of a man alive before digital computers.
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Borges was born in Buenos Aires and moved to Switzerland with his family in 1914. He was taught at home by his parents until the age of 11. With a large home library within his reach, Borges learned to speak many languages. Later Borges would say, "if I were asked to name the chief event in my life, I should say my father's library."
The Google Doodle shows a complex scene of an aging man overlooking great architecture from behind glass. Study the illustration and you will find a library on the right and images from “The Garden of Forking Paths,” a short story of his in which Borges describes the future in multiple ways. But, of course, he had never enjoyed the wonders of a digital computer, so even his scenes of a far-flung future have a distinctly retro feel.
While he was not a sci-fi writer himself, Borges contributed much to science fiction. He's best known for writing about dreams, labyrinths, libraries, animals, fictional writers, religion, and God. His most famous works were "Ficciones" and "The Aleph."
Unable to support himself as a writer, he worked as a librarian, a lecturer and a professor of literature, teaching at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1954, one of his short stories, "Emma Zunz," was made into a film under the name "Days of Hate." In the late 1950’s, Borges had lost his sight completely, but continued to write. Having never learned to read Braille, he received the help of his mother, to whom he was very close.
Borges never received a Nobel Prize for his work and he once joked that, "Not granting me the Nobel Prize has become a Scandinavian tradition; since I was born they have not been granting it to me."
He died in Geneva, Switzerland, in June 1986.
Google has celebrated other well-known writers in previous doodles. Some of our favorites are the Hans Christian Andersen flipbook logo, Roger Hargreaves' 16 different colorful cartoons, and the interactive submarine in honor of fellow science fiction writer Jules Verne.
[Editor's note: This story has changed from its original form to better reflect Borges' work.]