From With Borges, published by Thomas Allen Publishers in 2004.
He talks about Perón but tries not to mention his name. He tells me that he had heard that in Israel, when someone tries out a new pen, instead of signing his name, he writes the name of the ancient enemy of the Hebrews, the Amalekites, and then crosses it out, thousands of years later. Borges says he will continue to cross out Perón’s name whenever he can. According to Borges, after Perón came into power in 1946, anyone who wanted an official job was required to belong to the Peronist Party. Borges refused and was transferred from his position as assistant librarian in a small municipal branch to inspector of poultry at a local market. According to others, the transfer was less injurious but equally absurd: to the Municipal Apiary School. Whatever the case, Borges resigned. After his father’s death, in 1938, Borges and his mother depended entirely on his librarian’s salary and, after his resignation, he had to find another way of earning a living. In spite of his shyness, he started to give public lectures and developed a style and a lecturing voice that he still uses. I watch him prepare for a talk he has to give at the Italian Institute of Culture. He has memorized the whole thing, line after line, paragraph after paragraph repeated until every hesitancy, every apparent search for the right word, every happy turn of phrase is soundly rooted in his mind. “I think of my public speeches as the shy man’s revenge,” he says, laughing.