Say you’re one of history’s very best speculative fiction writers. You could do worse than to snag a Google Doodle for your 112th posthumous birthday.
Take a virtual bow, Jorge Luis Borges, you’ve been so honored. The Argentine poet, essayist, short-story writer and philosopher is the subject of today’s Google homepage picto-logo, which takes the form of his many elaborate, cryptic, insightful and often simply playful stories. The man in the picture is presumably Borges, gazing on his works—a kind of art deco pastiche of the labyrinths, staircases, libraries and “forking paths” that inhabited his fiction.
(PHOTOS: A History of Google Doodles)
He was born on August 24, 1899 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and lived until June 14, 1986, aged 86. He published his first book of poetry, Fervor de Buenos Aires (The Fervor of Buenos Aires) in 1923, thereafter embarking on a remarkable writing career that culminated in works like El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths) in 1941, a collection of eight short stories which explores the labyrinthine nature of metaphysics and language, and Ficciones (Fictions) in 1944, another short story collection that contains much of his best known work.
His opposition to Argentine president President Juan Domingo Perón once landed him in hot water. In 1946, after opposing Perón’s military dictatorship for years in speeches and essays, Borges was removed from his post as librarian and “promoted” to a job as a chicken and rabbit inspector (the Peronist regime was overthrown in 1955 and Borges became director of the National Library in Buenos Aires).
“It’s Borges, the other one, that things happen to,” wrote Borges in one his better known shorts. “Years ago I tried to free myself from him, and I moved on from the slums and outskirts of the city to games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now, and I shall have to think up other things. So my life is a point-counterpoint, a kind of fugue and falling away—and everything winds up being lost to me, and everything falls into oblivion, or into the hands of the other man.”
“I am not sure which of us it is that’s writing this page.”
PHOTOS: The Story of Google Doodles
Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.