October 25th, 2012 / 10:39 am
Massive People

Is this Borges? Meaning Jorge Luis Borges?

My pal Elf came across this picture, in poster form, at the school where he works. (Here is is for sale online.)

Anyone know the story behind it? Did JLB have something to do with it, or does it refer to some other Borges?

(I found this thread debating it, but it’s hardly conclusive.)



  1. Grant Maierhofer

      I don’t know but I now A. want to transfer to Elf’s school and B. wish I had more excuses to Google authors “ice skating,” because that’s basically what he’s doing, I guess, kinda. Any idea what it says under his name there? Might prove useful in your research, man.

  2. A D Jameson

      It reads, “Place de la Concorde,” which is where the photo was taken. Sorry to have omitted that!

      My own suspicion is that this has nothing to do with Jorge Luis Borges, and is a photo of or by some other Borges—but I can’t be certain.

  3. Grant Maierhofer

      I will say that the other thread made me instantly want to go running back to the space-aged wide open discourse of the HTMLGIANT comment boards. Phew, that’s much better.

  4. deadgod

      If–as seems likely from links at that thread–the photographer’s name was “Borges” (and that name got attached to that image even as early as the ’30s, thanks to how cool the picture was seen to be then??), then that’s the labeling principle, right?

      –and the ‘Jorge Luis Borges ice-blocking on the boulevard’ story, while fun and, I guess, Magrittey, is moon-landing-in-Nevada, born-in-Nairobi grade rumor-crack.

      [By the way, the guy isn’t really ice skating, is he? He’s, eh, street-ice-block-skiing – by a ‘water-skiing’ analogy.]

  5. A D Jameson

      Wasbach there is rude, but I admire his insistence on documentation.

  6. Grant Maierhofer


  7. Scott Carver


      Owned by Getty, via Keystone. It doesn’t say anything about Borges, and I feel like the stock photo folks would have kept track of that. And it doesn’t look like him, really.


      “Borges’s father died in 1938. This was a tragedy for the writer as the two were very close. On Christmas Eve that year, Borges suffered a severe head injury; during treatment, he nearly died of septicemia. While recovering from the accident, Borges began playing with a new style of writing for which he would become famous.” (Wikipedia)

      Maybe this is the photo PRECEDING his severe head injury?!

  8. A D Jameson

      Maybe it’s how he received the severe head injury?

  9. A D Jameson

      My guess is that the photographer’s name was Borges, and this photo has nothing to do with JLB. And I think that because it seems to me that if JLB was involved with this photo, then it would be easy to find evidence of it—like, it would be a well-known photo of him…

      But stranger things have happened. For instance, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to find out conclusively whether that photo of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue is a fake or the genuine article. (I’ve heard sincere arguments made for both, and have never bothered spending the time to track down the truth, assuming that truth is trackable.)

      Also, the moon landing photos. No way can they be real…

  10. A D Jameson

      Oh, postibreakup commented on the photo itself, pointing out this book:


      I looked for a copy in the I-Share catalog, but couldn’t find one there. Elf found copies at Princeton’s Library, as well as at U-Mass Amherst. The next time he’s near one of those schools, he’s going to try strolling into their libraries and see whether he can’t peek at the book…

  11. Grant Maierhofer

      I think each week someone should post something mysterious that needs answering and everyone around should then assemble to answer it. A D perhaps it’s a weekly column that writes itself? This has been golden.

  12. A D Jameson

      Excellent idea! I will try to do more of this.

      Putting this up reminded me of this older post. As I explain there, I had intended to call on the powers of the internet to help me figure out what a particular song it was, but then Jeremy M. Davies went and found it before I could finish & post it.

  13. mimi

      and so who is the song? what is it?

  14. mimi

      it’s awesome

  15. deadgod

      The telling detail in supposedly ‘outer-space’ pictures of Earth is how spherical they show the planet.

  16. Kent Johnson

      Eliot Weinberbger, whose translation and annotation of Borges’s Complete Non-Fiction won the NBCC a number of years ago, wrote yesterday to say that there’s little chance the photo could be of JLB.

      Borges would have been nearly 40 if the photo was taken in ’38. The guy there looks quite a bit younger.
      Still, one could imagine Borges doing something like this in Europe before he came back from there in 1921–he was one of the central figures of Ultraismo, a very energetic a-g group centered in Madrid.

  17. Shane Anderson

      nope. the accident was much more silly (read for: banal) than that.

      ‘Borges had gone to fetch a girl on calle Ayacucho, some five blocks from where he lived at avenida Pueyrredón, in order to accompany her home for dinner with his mother. The elevator was out of order, so he decided to run up the stairs, but in the poor light he knocked his head against a newly painted casement window that had been left open to dry.’

  18. Scott Carver

      I prefer the Paris Ice-Boot Hypothesis. :)

  19. A D Jameson
  20. A D Jameson

      The post answers that question, and more!

      (But it’s Fantastic Everlasting Gobstopper, also known as Death By Chocolate, also known as Angela Faye Tillett.)

      (It took me over ten years to find this out.)

  21. A D Jameson

      So maybe it’s after he suffered the head injury that he decided to go street ice-skating?

  22. A D Jameson

      Thank you, Kent!

  23. mimi

      ah! thank you! i should have read in detail the post you linked to in your comment, but alas i did not, regrettably, so sorry

      but i did just now read it, and intend to follow every link in it and listen to every listenable as the time fairy allows

      so thank you, yes, thank you, and i hope you are having a super-fantastic friday night where-ever (and in whatever timezone) you may be

  24. A D Jameson

      No problem, mimi! It is always a pleasure to hear from you.

      I am in the Central Time Zone, as I am in Chicago. Specifically, I am in the Logan Square neighborhood, in Chicago. Even more specifically, I am in my apartment in the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago. That’s not very exciting, I know, but I just got home from school, and it was a long day…

      Cheerio, A

  25. Borges and Ice | HTMLGIANT

      […] other one, the one called Borges, is the one who skates at the Place de la Concorde on blocks of ice. I walk through the streets of the 8th Arrondissement, and stop for a moment, perhaps touristically […]

  26. A D Jameson