Jorge Luis Borges (Buenos Aires, 1899 – Geneva, 1986) was one of the most outstanding Latin American writers of the 20th century.

His unparalleled prose made this Argentine of illustrious origin a worthy author of analysis and study in his time. He came to sound strongly for the Nobel Prize in Literature, although he never won it, probably because of his right-wing ideals. He did win, among many other distinctions, the Miguel de Cervantes Prize.

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Borges’ most famous phrases

In this article we will know the most famous phrases of Borges . They are famous quotes that we have extracted from his numerous books, interviews and conferences.

1. Be careful in choosing your enemies because you end up looking like them.

If we confront someone, we are likely to end up adopting their same defense strategies. Great thinking.

2. Let every man build his own cathedral. Why live on other people’s old works of art?

An ode to self-fulfilment and not to be carried away by the conquests of the past.

3. Universal history is that of one man.

One sentence to be freely interpreted.

4. There may be enemies of my opinions, but I myself, if I wait a while, can also be an enemy of my opinions.

It’s just a matter of giving yourself time to find weaknesses in your own thoughts…

5. One is not what one is by what one writes, but by what one has read.

The greatness of reading is that it makes us wiser. Writing is only the logical consequence.

6. I don’t know to what extent a writer can be revolutionary. For now, he is working with the language, which is a tradition.

A curious thought that might make us think.

7. I’d like to be brave. My dentist says I’m not.

An ironic phrase from the great Borges.

8. “Always” is a word that men are not allowed to use.

The mere conception of something eternal is, in itself, a utopia.

9. You are not ambitious: you are content to be happy.

How do you interpret this sentence of Borges?

10. There are communists who claim that to be anti-communist is to be fascist. This is as incomprehensible as saying that not to be Catholic is to be Mormon.

A reduction to the absurd, about one of the most used fallacies to delegitimize the opinion of another person.

11. If we really saw the universe, maybe we’d understand it.

Perhaps we live too absorbed in forms of life that take us totally away from understanding what surrounds us.

12. How else can one threaten other than death? The interesting thing, the original thing, would be for someone to threaten you with immortality.

Another irony of the Argentine genius.

13. We all walk towards anonymity, only the mediocre come a little earlier.

A solemn reflection on the unnecess of fame.

14. Literature is nothing but a directed dream.

About the conjunction between prose and building a castle in our own minds.

15. Death is a life lived. Life is a death that comes.

About the future, the past, and its ultimate reality.

16. I think it’s better to think that God doesn’t take bribes.

About the Church (and other religions) and its desire to accumulate wealth and goods.

17. I have not cultivated my fame, which will be ephemeral.

A great phrase by Borges, always reluctant to the supposed honeys of fame and popular acceptance.

18. We are our memory, we are that chimerical museum of fickle forms, that pile of broken mirrors.

Always great and creative, with this famous quote full of poetry.

19. Only that which is gone is what belongs to us.

Perhaps in allusion to the place occupied by people and experiences that are no longer there, but which remain in our minds.

20. Happiness does not need to be transmuted into beauty, but misfortune does.

Intriguing reflection that can make us think.

21. Dollars: It’s those reckless American bills that have different values and the same size.

On the value of money, very present in his work and little among his hobbies.

22. I’m alone and there’s no one in the mirror.

A certain nihilism floods this thought.

23. Time is the best anthologist, or the only one, perhaps.

A particularly famous phrase that perfectly sums up the meaning of life.

24. Dreaming is the oldest aesthetic activity.

To recreate and to imagine realities that our unconscious draws.

25. You’re in love when you realize someone else is unique.

About falling in love: something we’ve all felt at one time or another.

26. For the Argentinean, friendship is a passion and the police are a mafia.

A brief uncomfortable portrait of the average Argentine citizen, in the eyes of the porteño.

27. I have ever suspected that the only thing without mystery is happiness, because it justifies itself.

A brilliant reflection that could only be born from the pen of the writer born in Buenos Aires.

28. Over the years I have observed that beauty, like happiness, is commonplace. Not a day goes by that we are not, for an instant, in paradise.

Poetic and beautiful thought that can cheer us up on a cloudy day.

29. I do not speak of revenge or forgiveness; forgetting is the only revenge and the only forgiveness.

Impressive the way he rationalizes and gives a positive outlet to these negative feelings.

30. The verb to read, like the verb to love and the verb to dream, does not support ‘the imperative mood’.

“The letter, with blood enters” would be, according to Borges, a tremendous mistake of our educational system.

31. I have committed the worst sin one can commit. I have not been happy.

Tormented and lonely, Borges regretted not having lived more enthusiastically.

32. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t do drugs, at least. I would say that my only vices are Don Quixote, The Divine Comedy and not to read Enrique Larreta or Benavente.

About his few but curious vices.

33. Fatherhood and mirrors are abominable because they multiply the number of men.

A hint of his misanthropy.

34. Tyrannies encourage stupidity.

Simple but vehement phrase charging against dictatorships.