Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


Collected Fictions (1988)

by Jorge Luis Borges

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,844592,068 (4.6)102
The works of an Argentinian writer who took the detective story and turned it into metaphysics. They range from the 1935 A Universal History of Iniquity, a series of biographies of reprehensible evildoers, to the surrealistic August 25, 1983 in which Borges meets himself as an old man.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 102 mentions

English (58)  Spanish (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Essential reading.
  Crokey20 | Feb 24, 2023 |
Jorge Luis Borges is what Neil Gaiman wants to be. Both authors have a magical aspect to their writing, but for me, Gaiman tends to fall off the knife's edge of maintaining that consistent logical magic. Which makes Borges's writing all the stranger, because much of it actually seems almost random at times, but somehow he makes it all work.

This is partially because many parts of this seem like an almost reality of fiction… it's hard to tell what Borges is taking from other writers and what he's inventing whole cloth. Is nothing previously written? Is everything? Much of the writing is steeped in South American culture and history, particularly that of Argentine and Uruguay. Borges borrows, molds, marries, and deconstructs the histories and legends until it's not clear where reality ends and fantasy begins. Maybe there is a time when such spectacles happened, and our history just remembers it differently.

The magical aspects and ideas are so foreign in their concept that they always feel just out of reach. It's an idea that flits just on the edge of reason. Maybe all things are possible. Maybe a coin can have one side, maybe a man can be all men, maybe Shakespeare's memory can live on with another man so that he almost feels he is both himself and the Bard.

I wrote recently about the movies that may not exist without the film 8½, but I wonder the same with Borges. This is The Twilight Zone before The Twilight Zone. Certainly there are stories with ironic twists written before, but I have to imagine there's a straight line from some of Borges's work to the "What if?" ideas of The Twilight Zone, and by extension, all of its imitators.

An idea that recurs often in Borges's fiction is that a man does not have a fixed identity, yet man repeats endlessly in himself and other men. The most distilled version of this is the story 'Everything and Nothing' about Shakespeare. It posits that Shakespeare was never sure who he was, so constantly reinvented himself in the ideas of other people. (Sounds a bit like David Bowie, don't it?) From that constant need to reinvent and find who he was, we now have the most influential English-language body of work outside of The Bible. Married with this is the idea that your existence is inconsequential. It sounds nihilistic, but Borges is not. Your life may have no meaning save that you inspire a line of a poem. But what if it was the most beautiful poem ever to exist, and without your life-inspired line, it would fall apart? Your life lived, breathed, loved, lost, died; solely to exist and destined by God to live on and serve a greater beauty. Many may read it but none will ever know your name or the reason you did what you do. Borges reveals the questions of humanity inside his magical things.

A few lines I liked:

- ...but then, all our lives we postpone everything that can be postponed; perhaps we all have the certainty, deep inside, that we are immortal and that sooner or later every man will do everything, know all there is to know.

- there are those who seek the love of a woman in order to stop thinking of her, to put her out of their mind…

- The universe may change, but I shall not, thought I with melancholy vanity.

- ... in her walk, there was (if I may be pardoned the oxymoron) something of a graceful clumsiness...

- ...I enter the library. Almost physically, I can feel the gravitation of the books, the serene atmosphere of orderliness, time magically mounted and preserved.

- A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples the space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, dishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.

- The truth is that no one can hurt us except people we love.

- ...there are events that cannot be held to ordinary measures of time.

- No two mountain peaks are alike, but anywhere on earth the plains are one and the same.

- In order truly to see a thing, one must first understand it.… The savage cannot really perceive the missionary's Bible; the passenger does not see the same ship's rigging as the crew. If we truly saw the universe, perhaps we would understand it. ( )
  gideonslife | Jan 5, 2023 |
He may be considered a classic, but to my mind most of these stories just meanderd pointlessly then petered out. ( )
  SChant | Nov 22, 2022 |
One doesn't just read Borges, one experiences Borges.

The first book I read of his [The Book of Imaginary Beginnings] left me disappointed. I don't recommended reading that book first. I also thought he could of done a lot better with that book. With this book, I'm now a fan of Borges. I don't think he's the best short story writer I've come across (I'll get to that later), but I do think he knew what he is talking about and he can tell a story well.

Borges is kind of known as the master of metafiction. This book is called Collected Fictions, but let's use that term lightly. Some of these stories read like non-fictions. Some read short prose poems. This isn't your typical storytelling. Most of these stories will make you go to places you never been to before. Or maybe you'll travel to a time before you were born. Whatever it was, you don't need drugs are alcohol to experience Borges. Borges will take you anywhere you want and you can be whoever you want.

You can compare his style to almost any author you have read. Why? Well he himself has read a ton of books and shows. However, he mentions Shakespeare, Dante, and 1001 Nights constantly. I would recommended reading up on your classics before Borges. You don't really have too, but he kind of expects his reader to know what he is talking about some of the times. This short story collection isn't for readers who dislike old books or fancy writing styles. Borges loves the classics with passion. He kind of reads like a snob at times, but I totally get where he's coming from. He just wants you to read, understand, and love the books he loves.

One author that I thought he was similar with, that I'm not sure others would compare, is H.P. Lovecraft. They both place you in this dreamlike/realistic world. You become the characters in these stories, you share their thoughts and feelings. However, Lovecraft makes you feel insane and unconformable as Borges makes you feel intellectual and safe. I actually prefer Lovecraft over Borges. Lovecraft wrote about New England (my home) where Borges mostly wrote about Argentina (somewhere foreign to me).

Location and language is another factor that I feel like I have to bring up in this review. I feel like I can't fully understand everything Borges wrote in these stories. It helps to know about Argentina, it's history, and the Spanish language. I only speak English. This book is translated in English, but at times I feel like the translation is off. I feel like if I knew Spanish and read this in Spanish I would get more for these tales. Most translated books I don't feel like this, but this book is different. I think it's because Borges was a translator himself and langues, as these stories show, are important to him.

This isn't a book I'd recommended to others unless I know exactly what you like. Yes you might read a lot, but I feel like you have to study the books you like to full get this. I honestly hate saying this, but this is one book I feel like having a degree in English/literature helps. Of course I'd probably never have read this book if it wasn't recommenced from one of my favorite professors in college. I can see why she would recommended this book. ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
The long labyrinthian Lovecraft-esque stories from early on in his career didn't do much for me however the shorter pieces from later on in his life are quite lovely. ( )
  Popple_Vuh | Oct 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Borges, Jorge Luisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buckley, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fernandez, JessePhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurley, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed


You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
In 1517, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, feeling great pity for the Indians who grew worn and lean in the drudging infernos of the Antillean gold mines, proposed to Emperor Charles V that Negroes be brought to the isles of the Caribbean, so that they might grow worn and lean in the drudging infernos of the Antillean gold mines.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC
The works of an Argentinian writer who took the detective story and turned it into metaphysics. They range from the 1935 A Universal History of Iniquity, a series of biographies of reprehensible evildoers, to the surrealistic August 25, 1983 in which Borges meets himself as an old man.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (4.6)
1 2
1.5 1
2 11
2.5 4
3 40
3.5 11
4 181
4.5 35
5 587

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 188,562,400 books! | Top bar: Always visible