Borges: I thoroughly dislike Tom Sawyer

According to the Literary Saloon, yesterday was the birthday of Jorge Luis Borges. It happens that I just received an advance copy of The Paris Review Interviews: Vol. I, which includes a long Q&A with the author from July 1966. Here’s a bit:

Look here, I’m talking to an American: there’s a book I must speak about – nothing unexpected about it – that book is Huckleberry Finn. I thoroughly dislike Tom Sawyer. I think Tom Sawyer spoils the last chapters of Huckleberry Finn. All those silly jokes. They are all pointless jokes; but I suppose Mark Twain thought it was his duty to be funny even when he wasn’t in the mood. The jokes had to be worked in somehow. According to what George Moore said, the English always thought ‘better a bad joke than no joke.’

I think that Mark Twain was one of the really great writers, but I think he was rather unaware of the fact. But perhaps in order to write a really great book, you must be rather unaware of the fact.

The book – which includes interviews with Bellow, Bishop, Didion, Hemingway, Eliot, and other heavyweights – comes out this November from Picador.