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Collected Fictions

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4.58  ·  Rating Details ·  16,442 Ratings  ·  707 Reviews
Jorge Luis Borges has been called the greatest Spanish-language writer of our century. Now for the first time in English, all of Borges' dazzling fictions are gathered into a single volume, brilliantly translated by Andrew Hurley. From his 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity, through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, these enigmat ...more
Paperback, US / CAN, 565 pages
Published September 30th 1999 by Penguin (first published 1998)
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Robin Hi Sandra,

Sorry, I missed your question until today!

I'm no expert about Latin American literature, but I can tell you why I think Borges is so great.…more
Hi Sandra,

Sorry, I missed your question until today!

I'm no expert about Latin American literature, but I can tell you why I think Borges is so great. First off, he was writing in the category of magic realism before Marquez. He laid the groundwork for all kinds of new possibilities by reviving the classic traditions, like the epics DON QUIXOTE, THE ODYSSEY, and then playing philosophical havoc with them. As far as I know, he was one of the first genre blenders. He fused metaphysical and fantastical elements with the real, seducing the reader to believe what he was writing by way of footnotes and historical references. All this, with a blend of irony, humor, lyricism, that make his work unforgettable. At least, to me :-).(less)
Brenda Conry While clearly dealing with fictional entities, I think because it was meant to be read more as one would read an encyclopedia the publisher chose not…moreWhile clearly dealing with fictional entities, I think because it was meant to be read more as one would read an encyclopedia the publisher chose not to include it in the fiction collection. (less)

Community Reviews

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Cecily

For the last year or so, I've been working at a film studios.

As I wander around the site, what I find most fascinating is not star-spotting (they tend to be shielded from prying eyes anyway) but the many and varied pre-production activities needed to make the magic of cinema a reality: building sets and props; puppet-people in motion-capture suits; food carts for the crews; the whir of industrial generators; cabling for light and sound; the making of costumes, weapons and jewellery. Real, tang
...more
Glenn Russell
Jun 12, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing


There exists a relatively small amount of commentary on this short riddle-like tale written by the Argentinian fabulist Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Perhaps the reasons have to do with the impenetrable, sphinxlike nature of the secret cult he speaks of and the existence of what Borges refers to as the Secret (that’s with a capital S) of this secret cult being, well, a secret. So, with all the secrecy, I will keep my comments brief. Below my comments I have included the tale itself.

From the to
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Dolors
Mar 21, 2013 Dolors rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of puzzles
Shelves: read-in-2013
“You who read me, are You sure of understanding my language?” Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”

Even though I read Borges’s “Collected Fictions” in Spanish, my native tongue, I have to confess I didn’t understand half of it. Presumptuous of me to think I would. Famous for being the founder of postmodernist literature and influenced by the work of fantasists such Edgar Allan Poe and Franz Kafka, whom I adore, I was naive enough to assume I would be able to untangle Borges’s labyrinthin
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BlackOxford
Humbled by the Word

The Master. What educated person could live without his factional fiction? Borges created a genre which itself is now a fact in Western culture. And that fact, inadequately but accurately put, is that words lie. They can lie beautifully and even beneficially, but they nevertheless lie. And we love them for it.

Words cannot reveal but oh how they point, often to opposing points of the compass. Words do not cut the world at its joints but separate off bits of reality arbitrarily
...more
s.penkevich
Sep 24, 2011 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Do yourself a massive favor and read Borges. He can deliver more plot and twists in 2-5 pages than many authors do in 300. Every page will blow your mind as you loose yourself in the brilliant labyrinth of his words. Read it. Now.
Mala
Mar 25, 2013 Mala rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The Brainy Ones


You who read me—are you certain you understand my language?

Imagine you are watching a highly recommended, multiple awards winning, foreign-language film- it's everything you expected it to be, then, suddenly, the subtitles stop working- how annoying! But you are hooked; you can't stop watching– welcome to the Borgesian Labyrinth!

The 'Collected Fictions' consists of the following nine collections- 'A Universal History of Iniquity', 'Fictions', 'Artifices', 'The Aleph', 'The Maker', 'In Praise of
...more
Lynne King
Islam tells us that on the unappealable Day of Judgement, all who have perpetrated images of living things will reawaken with their works, and will be ordered to blow life into them, and they will fail, and they and their works will be cast into the fires of punishment.

Only Borges could possibly have made such a statement at the beginning of a short story called “Covered Mirrors” under “The Maker” (1960) in this multi-faceted selection of mesmerizing and fascinating short stories.

Why I began wit
...more
Alex
Deep in Don Quixote, for a while I convinced myself that Cervantes had written the footnotes too, and the Quixote commentators the editor cited were actually made up by Cervantes. He messes with you like that: he plays so many tricks that you end up thinking anything is possible.

Four months later I pick up Borges, and...here he is doing exactly that. Writing essays about imaginary books, with footnotes pointing to other imaginary commenters on the same imaginary books. Layer on layer of fiction.
...more
Pantelis
Oct 08, 2016 Pantelis rated it it was amazing
Borges... An almost imaginary being... Boy and old man during his entire life ... Narrator of Moebius strips.. Homer and Tiresias... He gave us a premonition of the internet... He was the Aleph...
Jonfaith
Dec 08, 2014 Jonfaith rated it really liked it
Fame is a form--perhaps the worst form--of incomprehension.

I can recall the first time I discovered the name Borges. That marks a near singular occasion. It was 1990 and I was thoroughly enjoying my Philosophy of Religion course and curious about nihilism. This engendered another retreat to the library and there on the opening page of some text was a quotation from this strange figure. It was a few minutes later when I had culled a number of texts from stacks. Like many a reader and a number of
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
No one wants to get reading=assignments from a Review. But you’ve got one here. If Borges is not Required Reading, he is Highly Recommended Reading. Which amounts to the same thing.

Listen. Borges is one of those masters of the short form, one of those That without which not, as the scholastics may have it. He is pantheonic. Kafka? Beckett? Barthelme? Edgar Allen Poe? Yep. Borges is one of those guys. And you know how you know nothing about the history of English Literature if you don’t know Shak
...more
Jason Koivu
Feb 04, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Reading Jorge Luis Borges's Collected Fictions is like being thrown into the ring with a merciless prize fighter, getting the shit kicked out of you, and loving every minute of it.

These pieces felt more like punches than short stories. Borges jabs to your head, jarring your brain with damning conversations with his future self, invented libraries of the Universe and stories that make you feel like a lost kid on your way to Algebra class but accidentally ending up in Trigonometry. Then he switche
...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This is perhaps my favorite story from the Ficciones collection, as well as Borges’ himself. In the prologue to Artifices, Borges comments:
Of “The South,” which is perhaps my best story, let it suffice for me to suggest that it can be read as a direct narrative of novelistic events, and also in another way.
The main character is Juan Dahlmann, a mixture of German and Spanish ancestry, whose life is mundane but who dreams vaguely of a more romantic life, inspired by the Flores side of his heritage
...more
Nathaniel
Aug 15, 2007 Nathaniel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: semifiction
My favorite tidbit about Borges is that he has been written into other authors' stories more than just about any other 20th century author. Neil Gaiman's Destiny and his Garden of Forking Paths, Umberto Eco's mad monk Jorge of Burgos, Zampanò from House of Leaves - and those are just the ones I've come across in my own reading. I'm sure the real Borges (should one miraculously manage to find him distinct from all the "false" Borgeses) would be amused to find that he has become an archetype. But ...more
Trevor
Jul 12, 2008 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
When I was at university we had to read this guy. Look, to be honest I didn’t really like him at the time. He seemed pompous and too clever by half. I liked some of his stuff – the story that begins this collection ‘Borges and I’ is marvelous and even that younger version of me could see just how great that was as a piece of writing. I’ll see if I can’t attach it to the end of this.

When I tried to read Labyrinths I became increasingly confused and annoyed. He was talking about endless libraries
...more
Ben Winch
One of the most famous lines in Spanish literature is this: Nadie lo vio desembarcar an la unanime noche: “No-one saw him slip from the boat in the unanimous night...”

(‘A Note on the Translation’, from Selected Stories, by Andrew Hurley)

‘No-one saw him disembark in the unanimous night...’

(‘The Circular Ruins’, from Labyrinths, translated by James E. Irby)

Now I’ll admit I don’t know much about translation , nor do I read Spanish, but I feel sure that Hurley’s translation is far from literal. Whe
...more
Szplug
Jul 29, 2010 Szplug rated it it was amazing
There are few other writers whose work has lingered in my mind to the same degree as has Borges. His short stories are a metaphysical perfume whose aroma, so startling and heady upon the first inhalation, arises, unbidden, at certain points of thought or recollection, working its peculiar and powerful transformative and transfigurative memes upon the seemingly stolid principles that order our universe. The Library of Babel wrenches the brain like a sudden stop upon a dreamy hexagonal rollercoast ...more
Junta
Apr 01, 2015 Junta rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Knife fighters, gauchos, writers, translators, kings, warriors, mysterious women, poets, gods.
May 13, 2015

I saw by the digital panel on the microwave that it was past eleven. I began walking back towards my room with my glass of water. I experienced, as I had at other times in the past, the resignation and relief we are made to feel several weeks before final exams, and final paper due dates of the semester. For a procrastinator, the rational mind knows that the most important thing is to get some study done each day - however, his natural, or shall we say primal instincts are unmatched
...more
Biswajit Chakraborty
“বোরহেসের পরতি আমার পরবল অনুরাগ, পরতি রাতে তাঁর লেখা পড়ি। বুয়েনোস আইরেস থেকে একটিমাতর জিনিসই কিনেছি আমি আর তা হল বোরহেসের রচনাসমগর। আমি যেখানেই যাই আমার সযুটকেসের ভেতর খনডগুলি থাকে, পরতিদিন পড়ি, এবং তিনি এমন একজন লেখক যাকে অপছনদ করি; কিনতু পাশাপাশি, তাঁর গলপগুলি ফাঁদতে গিয়ে তিনি যে সুর আর সবর বাঁধেন সেটা আমার ভীষণ পছনদ।”-গযাবরিয়েল গারসিয়া মারকেজ

এই বই সেই বই নানা বই পড়ার ফাঁকে অনেক সাহস করে একদিন ধরে ফেললাম হোরহে লুইস বোরহেসের “Collected Fictions” বা সমগর কথাসাহিতয। আর পড়ে গেলাম এক গোলকধাঁধায়। প
...more
Sentimental Surrealist
One of those books that gets a five on principle. I don't feel that Borges' entire bibliography is worth five stars on a story-by-story or book-by-book basis, but that's got more to do with the fact that nobody's is (and the fact La memoria de Shakespeare that is mostly Borges retreading The Book of Sand-era Borges - "August 25, 1983" reminds me too much of "The Other," and "Blue Tigers" swipes its central concept from "The Book of Sand" - the title story is amazing, but the rest is worth skippi ...more
Adam
Jul 23, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
The absolute bible...a twisting labryinth that changes everytime you read it and slowly infects all you read.
Mara
Sep 30, 2007 Mara rated it it was amazing
I had to return this to the library before I could fully finish it, but it gave me some real "food for thought" as they say, when it comes to writing. Borges breaks every writing rule in the book, "Show don't tell", "Center on your protagonist" "Begin with action, not exposition" and shows that the rules are for neophytes to "tolerable-up" their writing, not for a master whose rare gift transcends any finger-waggling from stuffy rule-makers. Borges writes like a fascinating dinner party guest wh ...more
Justin Evans
Aug 17, 2013 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
"Hey guys, what's going on?"
"The party's over. That, Justin, is how late to the party you are. It is over."

I have no idea why it took me so long to get to Borges. Perhaps because I mostly read second hand books, and nobody trades in his books? Perhaps because I spent a solid portion of my youth believing that only tremendously depressing books could be interesting? Perhaps because, had I read him before now, I would have been enraged at his disinterest in politics and then his proud 'liberalism
...more
Yulia
Sep 03, 2007 Yulia rated it liked it
Borges is a literary mathematician but he has no understanding of the human heart. Still, it's impossible not to be curious what his equations create.
Matt
Jul 22, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing
This book is the complete fiction writings of Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. My initial disclaimer is that there is no way to do justice to a work of this magnitude in a single review, just as there is no way to do it justice after only a first reading.

Anyone who has read Borges will recognize common objects that show up continually in his writings such as labyrinths, gauchos, knife fights, war, jaguars, and books (some of which are fabricated).

For those with little knowlege of the history
...more
Caroline
Oct 01, 2012 Caroline rated it did not like it
I was hesitant to post anything about this book. Given the stature of Borges it would have been easier just to pretend that I'd never read it. Well, the truth is I hardly did read it. I found his style impenetrable. For me there was no way into these stories, I was just stuck on the outside, with a book full of words on my lap.
Bryn Hammond
Jan 29, 2013 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing
Shelves: imagined-fiction
Superlative.
I think of him as science fiction. Like... Yoon Ha Lee. Intellectual intrigue and the spirit of adventure. Few 20th century titans are as fun as this. A reader's writer (he wanders byways of everything ever written, everywhere); a writer's writer (just terrific craft and hauntingness). This translation often took me by the throat; I can't remember the last, I see there's controversy about translations.
Roya
Mar 02, 2016 Roya rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-story
What I love about this, is, well, everything.
L1w0lf
Jun 09, 2007 L1w0lf rated it it was amazing
Borges is a name that's thrown about quite frequently in 'intellectual' circles. I heard his name from a friend who used to constantly claim that Borges was the greatest author never to win the Nobel Prize. I was intrigued and bought this particular book, an English translation from the original Spanish of this Argentinian writer.

First thing I realized was, that the guy who recommended Borges had never really read a word of Borges! Because he never told me what these stories were *really* about,
...more
Ned Mozier
Oct 08, 2016 Ned Mozier rated it really liked it
This collection tests my rating system, since translation, time and my own ignorance limit a proper evaluation. But the enjoyment, inventiveness and pure craftsmanship demand at least 4 stars.

I took this in bite size pieces over a year and a half. It was good, often great, but dense like fudge and required careful reading when fresh (not the half awake bed-time reading that I like to do). This corpus spans a great writer’s life, and it taught me much about the settling of South America, in parti
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Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (Spanish pronunciation: [xoɾxe lwis boɾxes], Russian: Хорхе Луис Борхес) was an Argentine writer and poet born in Buenos Aires. In 1914, his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school and traveled to Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in Surrealist literary journals. He also worked as a libra ...more
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“I have no way of knowing whether the events that I am about to narrate are effects or causes.” 92 likes
“To say good-bye is to deny separation; it is to say Today we play at going our own ways, but we'll see each other tomorrow. Men invented farewells because they somehow knew themselves to be immortal, even while seeing themselves as contingent and ephemeral.” 34 likes
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