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Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

Fictions (1944)

by Jorge Luis Borges

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,343781,234 (4.4)186
Recently added bycipeciop, injeneralpeters, logos-nomos, private library, jmadelbecq, marbas, sunil_kumar, omarjaimes
Legacy LibrariesGraham Greene, Danilo Kiš
  1. 70
    Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (Carnophile)
    Carnophile: While Ficciones is a subset of Collected Fictions, it is nice to have two translations of the same material. Each translator captures nuances the other misses.
  2. 60
    The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges (VanishedOne)
  3. 61
    Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Carnophile)
    Carnophile: Both books are liesurely contemplations of fantastical situations, not plot- or character-driven, but conceptual.
  4. 20
    The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (lewbs)
    lewbs: Borges admired The Martian Chronicles. The two books have much in common.
  5. 00
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (fundevogel)
  6. 00
    The Periodic Table by Primo Levi (Eustrabirbeonne)
  7. 01
    Minor Angels by Antoine Volodine (Eustrabirbeonne)

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» See also 186 mentions

English (60)  Spanish (7)  French (3)  Italian (3)  Portuguese (2)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
The imagination I have seen exhibited here is unlike any other I have ever read. ( )
  Lugalbanda | Feb 8, 2019 |
Pensa num livro perfeito. ( )
  Adriana_Scarpin | Jun 12, 2018 |
Este livro merece cinco estrelas; só não leva por uma razão: eu ainda não conheço bem a obra do senhor Borges e creio que só um conhecimento mais aprofundado permitir-me-á atribuir pontuações mais elevadas. Seja como for, é um pequeno grande livro. Muito bom. ( )
  Joel.G..Gomes | Jan 12, 2018 |
One of the earliest memories of reading that I have is one of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. The idea that there is another world beyond or through the mirror in one's parlor is a fabulous way to introduce the flights of fancy that little Alice was prone to engage in as I had learned in Carroll's earlier book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I am reminded of this experience because of the importance of mirrors in the writing of Jorge Luis Borges as he privileges the mirror and his stories as books appear as mirrors for reality. Just as in Carroll the mirror image presents a reflection that is backwards and always seems a bit wrong; however, it is wrong in a way that one only senses and cannot actually identify with any hope of specificity. My own dreams, and perhaps yours, often seem to be similarly twisted, even absurd, reflections of reality.

In Ficciones Borges has included nine short fictions in part one and ten even shorter works called "artifices" in part two. I like every story in the first part but my favorite has to be "The Library of Babel" which, for readers, has to encompass the notions of heaven and hell all in one twisted story.

The first story in this collection, "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, is an example of the importance of mirrors as it begins with the following sentence: "I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia."(p 5). Additional stories share favorite places of Borges whether they be a garden in the case of "The Garden of Forking Paths", or the library as in "The Library of Babel". The latter of those two stories would have to be my favorite, and perhaps the favorite of many readers as readers who love libraries. Borges' library is a cheerless and even fearful place. With its incalculably vast size suggesting infinity it can seemingly be a nightmare more than a dream. Yet there is always the possibility of finding hope hidden in the vastness of infinite space. While Borges himself spent several years in a dull library job cataloging books the imaginary library of Babel seems to defy any cataloging. Just like a world reflected in a mirror, "absurdities are the norm" in this library while disorder reigns. Conundrums also abound as with the notion that everything that has already been written, yet there are always new and definitively different books that one may encounter.

The worlds depicted in Borges' stories are filled with blank spaces, the ideas and ideals are abstract rather than personal, yet they yield a personal response. Those unwilling or unable to fill in some of the blank spaces with their own imaginations may find something lacking. No amount of further writing would help though all of the stories are short, even as short stories go with the second part filled with "Artifices" that are typically no more than two or three pages long. Just as the stories beckon with suggestions of ruins, lotteries, libraries, and gardens; so do the artifices with titles that invite you to partake of death, miracles, swords, differing visions of Judas, and the rise of the Phoenix. Infinite libraries suggest stories from an imagination that also may have been infinite.

The world of Borges' fiction expands to encompass more than reality. These short narratives reveal conflicting emotions, motives, and desires shared by all humans and explore what he imagines as a tortured struggle for salvation or perhaps merely redemption. His genius gives rise to flights of the imagination unique in my experience. My love for these narratives stems from their presences as magical works of a literary master. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 20, 2017 |
Even as a child, the Argentinian master storyteller Jorge Luis Borges lived among books and various languages -- myths, legends and literature from many civilizations and cultures: Spanish, Chinese, Persian, Nordic, to name just a few. His greatest childhood memory was his father's library; he was reading Shakespeare in English before the age of twelve; by the time he was an adult, Borges turned his mind into one vast library.

Borges did not write long, involved novels like David Copperfield, The Brothers Karamazov, Sister Carrie or Ada. Not even close. Not even a novella. Why is this? One reviewer comments that Borges was something of a dandy and a pure aesthete, a writer who saw brevity as a virtue and associated length with ennui. Also, brevity lends itself to a fleeting, dream-like quality the author was seeking. Perhaps this is accurate or perhaps not so accurate, but, in any case, it is certainly our good fortune Borges wrote the way he did.

Borges wrote poetry, essays and tales, some tales as short as a paragraph, others several dozen pages, and still others, most of his tales in fact, five to twelve pages. With one longer exception, the seventeen tales in the collection are in this five to twelve page range and all have a baroque quality, that is, they are written in a rich, lush language and refer to many ancient, archaic, esoteric and classical sources. To give a reader new to Borges a taste of these tales, I will focus on two: The Circular Ruins and The Babylon Lottery.

The Circular Ruins
A wizard paddles his canoe downstream to a temple in ruins. We read, “The purpose which guided him was not impossible, though supernatural. He wanted to dream a man; he wanted to dream him in minute entirety and impose him on reality.” What kind of effort will this wizard have to exert to accomplish his task? Borges writes, “He understood that modeling the incoherent and vertiginous matter of which dreams are composed was the most difficult task that a man could undertake, even though he should penetrate all the enigmas of a superior and inferior order; much more difficult than weaving a rope out of sand or coining the faceless wind.” The narrator makes reference to Gnostic cosmogonies and the creation done by demiurges as the wizard reflects on his task; there is also a deep concern and dread in the mind of the wizard, when we read, “He feared lest his son should meditate on this abnormal privilege and be some means find out he was a mere simulacrum. Not to be a man, to be a projection of another man’s dreams – what an incomparable humiliation, what madness!” Turns out, as events and realities unfold, the wizard comes to understand more completely what it really means to be humiliated and to be part of a dream.

The Babylon Lottery
The first person narrator of this tale is himself a man of the city of Babylon and shares his reflections on power, chance, gaming, logic, symmetry, labyrinths, time, zero and infinity as well as his being, in turn, a proconsul and a slave and his having severed the jugular of sacred bulls and, at another point in his life, having been declared invisible. He goes on to tell us how he was able to live such a life: “I owe this almost atrocious variety to an institution which other republics know nothing about, or which operates among them imperfectly and in secret: the lottery.” Deep into his musing, he recalls a discussion where it was said, “ . . . if the lottery is an intensification of chance, a periodic infusion of chaos into the cosmos, would it not be desirable for chance to intervene at all stages of the lottery and not merely in the drawing?” How did the narrator arrive at this statement and what does a specific philosophy of chance imply for the city’s famous game? Rather than answering these questions, permit me to note how the narrator offers possible alternatives at the end of the tale regarding how one can view the company responsible for the lottery; and how one can view the lottery itself; and, yet again, how one can view the city of Babylon. We can easily imagine Borges lingering on these questions and possibilities long after he finished writing his tale. ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Borges, Jorge LuisAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blanchot, MauriceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bonner, AnthonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Håkansson, GabriellaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurley, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kerrigan, AnthonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lucentini, FrancoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reid, AlastairTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sturrock, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Temple, HelenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Todd, RuthvenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Esther Zemborain de Torres
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I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia.
Debbo la scoperta di Uqbar alla congiunzione di uno specchio e di un'enciclopedia.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Un falso paese scoperto "nelle pagine di un'enciclopedia plagiaria", Uqbar, e un pianeta immaginario, Tlön, "labirinto ordito dagli uomini" ma capace di cambiare la faccia del mondo; il "Don Chisciotte" di Menard, identico a quello di Cervantes eppure infinitamente più ricco; il mago che plasma un figlio nella materia dei sogni e scopre di essere a sua volta solo un sogno; l'infinita biblioteca di Babele, i cui scaffali "registrano tutte le possibili combinazioni dei venticinque simboli ortografici... cioè tutto ciò ch'è dato di esprimere, in tutte le lingue" e che sopravviverà all'estinzione della specie umana; il giardino dei sentieri che si biforcano; l'insonne Funes, che ha più ricordi di quanti ne avranno mai tutti gli uomini insieme.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802130305, Paperback)

Reading Jorge Luis Borges is an experience akin to having the top of one's head removed for repairs. First comes the unfamiliar breeze tickling your cerebral cortex; then disorientation, even mild discomfort; and finally, the sense that the world has been irrevocably altered--and in this case, rendered infinitely more complex. First published in 1945, his Ficciones compressed several centuries' worth of philosophy and poetry into 17 tiny, unclassifiable pieces of prose. He offered up diabolical tigers, imaginary encyclopedias, ontological detective stories, and scholarly commentaries on nonexistent books, and in the process exploded all previous notions of genre. Would any of David Foster Wallace's famous footnotes be possible without Borges? Or, for that matter, the syntactical games of Perec, the metafictional pastiche of Calvino? For good or for ill, the blind Argentinian paved the way for a generation's worth of postmodern monkey business--and fiction will never be simply "fiction" again.

Its enormous influence on writers aside, Ficciones has also--perhaps more importantly--changed the way that we read. Borges's Pierre Menard, for instance, undertakes the most audacious project imaginable: to create not a contemporary version of Cervantes's most famous work but the Quixote itself, word for word. This second text is "verbally identical" to the original, yet, because of its new associations, "infinitely richer"; every time we read, he suggests, we are in effect creating an entirely new text, simply by viewing it through the distorting lens of history. "A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships," Borges once wrote in an essay about George Bernard Shaw. "All men who repeat one line of Shakespeare are William Shakespeare," he tells us in "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius." In this spirit, Borges is not above impersonating, even quoting, himself.

It is hard, exactly, to say what all of this means, at least in any of the usual ways. Borges wrote not with an ideological agenda, but with a kind of radical philosophical playfulness. Labyrinths, libraries, lotteries, doubles, dreams, mirrors, heresiarchs: these are the tokens with which he plays his ontological games. In the end, ideas themselves are less important to him than their aesthetic and imaginative possibilities. Like the idealist philosophers of Tlön, Borges does not "seek for the truth or even for verisimilitude, but rather for the astounding"; for him as for them, "metaphysics is a branch of fantastic literature." --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:01 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the gargantuan powers of imagination, intelligence, and style of one of the greatest writers of this or any other century. Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal's abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. More playful and approachable than the fictions themselves are Borges's Prologues, brief elucidations that offer the uninitiated a passageway into the whirlwind of Borges's genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his skepticism, and his obsession with fantasy. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything in between.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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