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Jorge Luis Borges: what made him so good?

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Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine writer who would have celebrated his 112th birthday today (and wouldn't have found anything odd about it), was one of the most beloved Latin American storytellers of the twentieth century. He was also an early contributor to magical realism, a genre of literature in which the abnormal is presented to readers alongside the mundane.

Borges was a master of the technique. His specialty was imagining entire novels, encyclopedias, or even libraries, and then reviewing them as if to mock literary critics. One of his more popular tales, 'Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,' is told from the position of a man reading the work of the fictional author Pierre Menard. Menard believed that by immersing himself thoroughly in the life of Miguel de Cervantes, the as 17th-century Spanish poet who wrote Don Quixote, he will naturally produce identical work. Menard turns out to be right, but the modern era differentiates his prose from Cervantes's.

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