Borges once said that many philosophical tomes could be distilled into a few pages. Many of the densely packed writings in Labyrinths demonstrate that Borges could actually perform these magical distillations and do it beautifully.
I recommend starting with the short stories “Funes the Memorious,” “The Circular Ruins” and “The Secret Miracle.” The companion piece to “Funes the Memorious” is “A Fragment on Joyce,” which you can find in Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions (page 220).
A tremendously challenging set of stories, so dense and often convoluted that I had to read some of them several times to penetrate the narrative. Some are dream-like; all are atmospheric, the narrative perhaps leading nowhere. Yet each story and essay draws you into its particular 'labyrinth' for a short, fascinating walk in a dark corner of Borges' creative mind.
Uber-librarian and 20th century’s master storyteller. His library career was cut short after he was demoted to a position of poultry inspector at Buenos Aires’ farmers market (!!!) but as a storyteller he delivered, within the pages of this collection, a tale of the absolute library: it contains not only every book ever written but every book ever to be written as well; all in all, some 1.956 times 10 to a degree of 1,835,097 items, a fraction of this enormous number being more than enough to fill the known universe with books! Its librarians, overwhelmed with the glut of information, resist suicidal despair by seeking solace in a new religion: faith in the existence the complete index of library’s contents.
A collection of short stories to confound & enchant! Borges' writing is sort of a 'twilight zone' for intellectuals -- and check out the story, "The Library of Babel" to really 'push the envelope'!
Fiction today seems to be an extension of other forms of media, requiring the same diligence from the reader as a blog or a text message. Borges brings us back to a time when authors sought to challenge their readers, to expand their perception, to leave them better for the experience of engaging with the work. Appropriately for a work titled 'Labyrinths', Borges does more to establish structure and geography in his stories than most authors (instead of focusing on character development, for instance). The result is a world in which the characters are perpetually lost (also appropriate), occasionally find their footing, only to slip (at times blissfully) into something infinite. Borges is fantastic, but not in the same way as Marquez. Somehow, the fact that Borges is less beholden to the 'realism' of 'magical realism', allows him to create a world that is more plausible. It's no coincidence that Gleick's 'The Information' references Borges repeatedly. Because 'magical' does not have to be impossible.
Jorge Luis Borges is Argentina's most reknowned author, who is
particularly known for his short stories, poems, and essays, and deeply philosophical, esoteric themes.
Labyrinths was a wonderful introduction to his work. The title
is just right because the biggest thing I came away with was the
feeling that I had been reading the literary version of an M.C. Escher painting. Borges constantly has the reader questioning reality, especially the realities of time and space.
I got this copy from the library. I started off wanting to read Borges because I knew that many of his works had literary themes, centering on books and writing. They do, but I found so much more than that! I have called other writers brilliant, but Borges was brilliant almost to the point of being on a different plane.
I'm not sure I completely understood all of the stories and/or essays, but that's o.k.. I definitely want my own copy, because it seems meant to be read over and over again, with the reader coming away with a different perspective, a different understanding each time.
I would really love to own all of his work. He completely blew me away! More than any other author, Borges has made me think and question, made me want to jump off and research other authors and works which he mentioned, and made me want to read other authors in whom I could see
his influence. I think if I were stuck on a desert island with only
one book, it would have to be one of his!
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