The Art of Fiction No. 39
Interviewed by Ronald Christ
The Paris Review
Winter-Spring 1967, No. 40
BORGES: [...] I remember the first novel in English I read through was a Scottish novel called The House with the Green Shutters.
INTERVIEWER: Who wrote that?
BORGES: A man called Douglas. Then that was plagiarized by the man who wrote Hatters Castle—Cronin—there was the same plot, practically. The book was written in the Scots dialect—I mean, people instead of saying money speak of bawbees or instead of children, bairns—that's an Old English and Norse word also—and they say nicht for night: that's Old English.
INTERVIEWER: And how old were you when you read that?
BORGES: I must have been about—there were many things I didn't understand—I must have been about ten or eleven. Before that, of course, I had read The Jungle Book, and I had read Stevenson's Treasure Island, a very fine book. But the first real novel was that novel. When I read that, I wanted to be Scotch, and then I asked my grandmother, and she was very indignant about it. She said, “Thank goodness that you're not!” Of course, maybe she was wrong. She came from Northumberland; they must have had some Scottish blood in them. Perhaps even Danish blood way back.