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A Universal History of Iniquity

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,726 Ratings  ·  208 Reviews
In his writing, Borges always combined high seriousness with a wicked sense of fun. Here he reveals his delight in re-creating (or making up) colorful stories from the Orient, the Islamic world, and the Wild West, as well as his horrified fascination with knife fights, political and personal betrayal, and bloodthirsty revenge. Sparkling with the sheer exuberant pleasure of ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published July 27th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published 1935)
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The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Best Books of the Decade: 1930s
101st out of 456 books — 787 voters
Ficciones by Jorge Luis BorgesThe Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis BorgesThe Book of Sand and Shakespeare's Memory by Jorge Luis BorgesLabyrinths by Jorge Luis BorgesHistoria universal de la infamia by Jorge Luis Borges
The Best of Jorge Luis Borges
7th out of 18 books — 30 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Glenn Russell
Oct 10, 2014 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing
From his early years the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges lived among books and languages, classical literature from many civilizations and cultures: Chinese, Persian, Nordic, Spanish, to name several. His greatest childhood memory was his father's library; he was reading Shakespeare in English at age 11; by the time he was an adult, Borges turned his mind into one vast library. Therefore, it is a bit ironic this bookish man chose to write an entire collection of tales about men of sheer act ...more
Mike Puma
Apr 16, 2015 Mike Puma rated it really liked it

Briefly: A catalog, a biographical dictionary of vile people with a worldwide range, real and/or imagined (imagined, certainly, even the real). This owes a debt to Marcel Schwob’s Imaginary Lives and to which J. Rodolfo Wilcox owes a debt for having enabled The Temple of Iconoclasts (which I’ll now return to liking quite a lot), and more recently, providing premise for Roberto Bolaño’s Nazi Literature in the Americas (which I read first, bassackwards, I).

4 stars for a fun, creepy read, made more

...more
Cecily
"Reading... is an activity subsequent to writing - more resigned, more civil, more intellectual" (the closing words to the preface of the first edition).

I have the Complete Fictions (with copious translator's notes), but am splitting my review of that into its components, listed in publication order: Collected Fictions - all reviews. This is the first, published in 1935.

I had read several profound and passionate reviews by friends, and felt the building lure of Borges, aided by a growing awarene
...more
Ian Vinogradus
Mar 02, 2015 Ian Vinogradus rated it really liked it
"In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing."

Oscar Wilde


Exercises in Style

These stories are fascinating exercises in style.

They effectively document the development of Borges' style at a time when "he was a shy sort of man who could not bring himself to write short stories, and so amused himself by changing and distorting (sometimes without aesthetic justification) the stories of other men."

Matter of Fact

As Borges said in an earlier Preface, "the stories are n
...more
Luís Blue Coltrane
Most of the stories that make up the Universal History of Infamy (an intentionally emphatic title) are imaginary biographies of historical figures such as Billy the Kid, Monk Eastman Gang leader or pseudo-Muslim prophet Hakim al-Moqannâ.
Under the apparent grandiloquence hiding in fact humble and pleasant stories. They are almost all written in the same style, abusing long enumerations and pompous and superfluous adjectives. A style that Borges describes in the prologue of baroque. Their about ot
...more
Carla
Feb 04, 2016 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Talvez pelo fascínio que o Velho Oeste sempre exerceu sobre mim, o relato que mais me marcou destas universais e infamantes histórias de Borges, tenha sido "O assassino desinteressado Bill Harrigan", breve narração da atribulada e breve vida de Billy the Kid, morto aos 21 anos pelo Xerife Pat Garrett, acusado de 21 mortes "sem contar os mexicanos".

Zuberino


এই বইটির বাংলা শিরোনাম করা যেতে পারে "কুখযাতির সারবজনীন ইতিহাস"। কোন কোন বোদধার মতে বোরহেসের তরুণ বয়সে লেখা এই বইটির মাধযমেই লযাটিন আমেরিকান মযাজিক রিয়ালিজম বা যাদু-বাসতবতার পদযাতরা শুরু। তবে এটা সংখযালঘু মতামত। যাদু-বাসতবতার কলাসিক উপাদান বলতে আমরা যা কিছু বুঝি, তা এখানে মোটের উপর অনুপসথিত। এখন পরযনত যাদু-বাসতবতার পিতৃতব কিউবার ঔপনযাসিক আলেহো কারপেনতিয়ের-এর ঘাড়েই বরতায়, এবং "কুখযাতি" পড়ার পরে সেই মতামত হুট করে বদলে ফেলার কোন সঙগত কারণ খুঁজে পেলাম না।

তবে হযাঁ, বিংশ শতাবদীর সাহিতযে ভয়ংকর পরভাবশাল
...more
Lourdes
Aug 21, 2014 Lourdes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Temerosos de la Metáfísica y el Absoluto. Y todos los demás.
Recommended to Lourdes by: Todos
Leer Historia Universal de la Infamia es ir a la caza de la delgada línea roja. Ésa que separa, imperceptible, la realidad y la ficción. Sucede que, en esta antología de relatos criminales, Borges se apropia de historias verídicas (sin duda, caídas del ambar de viejas páginas policiales o de las polvorientas leyendas de antaño) y las envuelve en una atmósfera fascinante. En una telaraña de detalles asombrosos, que son una reescritura de lo real y que, incluso, lo perfeccionan.

Curioso: el autor l
...more
Mohammad
صفحات كتاب از چوبه دار و مجازات شدگان و تبهكاران و دزدان دريايي انباشته شده و واژه بي عدالتي و شرارت در عنوان كتاب،ترس و هيبت بر مي انگيزد،اما زير اين همه طوفان هيچي و پوچي است.همه اش فقط ظاهر است و براي همين است كه شايد خوانندگان بتوانند از آن لذت ببرند.
M. Sarki
Jun 05, 2015 M. Sarki rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable read and much better than some have mentioned in their criticisms. Borges' style is so natural and free. It is as if he is sitting there in front of you, relaxing, relating his story to our sharpening delight.
Vit Babenco
Mar 03, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe it is impossible to overvalue Jorge Luis Borges’ influence on the modern intellectual literature – however much we think he did, he did even more.
Similar to sounds, skilfully combined by a composer into a harmonious sequence, turning into melody, simple words, cunningly used by an adroit author, turn into intellectual music.
“The runaway expected his freedom. Lazarus Morell’s shadowy mulattoes would give out an order among themselves that was sometimes barely more than a nod of the head
...more
Miquixote
Aug 01, 2016 Miquixote rated it it was amazing
Apparently the term "magical realism" movement began here.
Original real criminal stories altered.
But Borges himself criticizes it: "when art flaunts and squanders its resources"; "the irresponsible sport of a shy sort of man who could not bring himself to write short stories, and so amused himself by changing and distorting (sometimes without aesthetic justification) the stories of other men"; "under all the storm and lightning, there is nothing."

My first Borges read, i really liked it even if h
...more
Ümit
Daha iyi yazılabileceğine inandığım tarihi-yarı kurmaca biyografiler bütünü.
Mariel Zani Begoña
Muy bueno. Definitivamente seguiré leyendo a Borges

Really good. I will definitely continue reading this author
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
May 02, 2013 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jayaprakash by: jayaprakash@gmail.com
Another re-read. Young Borges working his way toward fiction by playing with fact. Perfidious individuals from history and legend stride through the pages of this slim book, spreading death and fear across 4 continents before coming to, for the most part, sticky ends. A great preamble to a unique body of work, but don't let this be your first or only Borges.
نرگس
این کتاب انگار نوشتنش برای بورخس تمرین بوده، خوندنش هم تمرینیه. مسابقه تو کتابهای دیگهاش اتفاق میافته. ...more
Tiago Diogo
Apr 27, 2016 Tiago Diogo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um Mundo de bandidos. Bandidos poéticos com muito swag.
Justin Evans
Mar 07, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I somehow managed to get a BA with a focus on comparative literature and continental philosophy and then a PhD with a focus on twentieth century literature without reading any Borges. How did that happen? Well, any time I tried to read South American 'magical realist' literature I broke out in hives of boredom, and I thought maybe Borges was to blame; in addition, I thought, and still think, that Borges might be responsible in part for recent developments in the anglo-american literature of conc ...more
Isil
Jun 04, 2012 Isil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
http://okudumdanoldu.blogspot.be/2012...

Her ne kadar bitirmem uzun sürmüş olsa da çok eğlenerek okudum bu kitabı. Dünyanın ve tarihin her tarafından toparlanmış öyküler var bu kitapta. Sudan'dan Arjantin'e, Çin'den İran'a kadar. Aslında büyük ihtimalle gerçekten yaşamış kişilikleri alıp biraz çarpıtarak hikayeleştirmiş.
Esasen Arjantin'deki bir gazetenin pazar ekine yazdığı yazıların toparlanması bu kitap ama zamanında çok ses getirmiş.

Bendeki nüsha İletişim Yayınları 10. baskı. Bunu neden söylüy
...more
Tanuj Solanki
According to Borges, the stories here were meant for nothing graver than light entertainment. But today their chief purpose may well be to provide access to the writer's early dabbling. And yes, there are numerous signs of what was to come. There are mirrors here, and recursive systems, and hoaxes, and some mind-boggling endings too.

Though the stories are straightforward, re-reading provides greater pleasures, as with all Borges. The trivia is that each story was written as contribution to a wee
...more
Aysun
Apr 09, 2015 Aysun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Benim asla böyle cümleler kurmak aklıma gelmezdi dedirten, muhteşem anlatıma sahip yarı kurgu yarı gerçek hikayeler. Hemen Borges'in kronolojik olarak yazılmış 2 kitabını daha sipariş verdim. okurken çok eğlendim çoook.
Karin
Jul 31, 2016 Karin rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I have decided that since it will take me a while to get through Collected Fictions, that I will go ahead and talk about each "book" as I finish it.

A Universal History of Iniquity is interesting, though not mindblowing. Borges definitely has a great style, even when he is wholesale lifting stories from other collections.

The one original story, "Man on Pink Corner" went beyond the interesting into the good. It does a good job of setting the atmosphere and feel of a specific time and place. It did
...more
Nicolás
Aug 16, 2016 Nicolás rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Infamia...maldad, crueldad. El libro tiene una recopilación de hechos y biografías de personajes infames rn la historia de la humanidad, los relatos que más me gustaron, son: "El atroz redentor de Lazaro Morell", "La viuda ching, Pirata", "El asesino desinteresado", "El Espejo de tinta", "El tintorero enmascarado, hákin de merv".
Ubik 2.0
Bozzetti? Suggestioni.

Nel giudicare la “Storia universale dell’infamia” non si può ignorare che il maestro argentino pubblicò questi scritti alla spicciolata su un quotidiano locale, 10 anni prima delle opere di narrativa che gli diedero la fama.

Va da sé che attendersi un’opera complessivamente paragonabile a “Finzioni” o “L’Aleph” è un approccio vano oltre che ingeneroso nei confronti di una raccolta che pure presenta chiari elementi già in grado di riverberare il genio dell’autore destinato a
...more
Simon
It is very interesting to read such a historically important writer in the evolution of world literature before he developed the signature style he is best known for today. Jorge Luis Borges is today best remembered as the grandfather of not just Latin American magical realism but also metafiction as we know it today, and while the stories found within "A Universal History of Iniquity" fit neither categorization there is a strong red thread running through them linking to those exact movements.

T
...more
Paddythemic
Aug 15, 2015 Paddythemic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a gallery full of ROGUES (unusual suspects who are sourced in the index) populate this collection of stories; not hyper-detailed, but rather "zoomed-out" like the pointed recollections of a historian. i could read this over and over. utterly brilliant.

THE CRUEL REDEEMER LAZARUS MORELL - poor white southern trash con artist. mississippi/slavery.

THE IMPROBABLE IMPOSTER TOM CASTRO - weak entry. meh...

THE WIDOW CHING - PIRATE chaos on the yellow sea abates unexpectedly.

MONK EASTMAN, PURVEYOR OF INIQ
...more
Shane
Mar 21, 2012 Shane rated it liked it
I wondered why Borges had regurgitated, in his own interpretation, a rogues’ gallery of historic figures who had met the most inglorious ends. Was this fiction, practice for the fiction to come, or a commissioned set of synopses of these historic villains’ lives? Then I stumbled on a Wikipedia entry that explained that as part of his editorial work at the newspaper Crítica, Borges had written these pieces, some as a cross between non-fictional essays and short stories, and the others as literary ...more
El Avestruz Liado
Jan 26, 2013 El Avestruz Liado rated it really liked it
Writing a long review seems an exercise of redundancy to me: there are already many reviews in english and any spanish speaking reader worth his salt already worships Borges (if not the case, just go and read him and stop reading reviews).

Suffice to say that this is his first work, a compendium of fictional criminal chronicle he did for a newspaper. It is entertaining, of course: that is the purpose of such newspaper sections. The great merit of these stories lies not the -quite generic- content
...more
Murat G.
Mar 27, 2015 Murat G. rated it liked it
Shelves: ekitap-pdf
Tr. Alçaklığın Evrensel Tarihi. Borges, dünya tarihindeki dolandırıcı/üçkağıtçı/alçakları anlatıyor. Özellikle ilk hikayedeki Lazarus Morell, hem Amerika kıtası tarihi, hem Hristiyanlık/din ve sömürü etkileşimi çerçevesinde benim açımdan kitaptaki en etkileyici anlatı. Bunun yanısıra "Onur kırıcı görgü hocası Kotsuke no Suke", Peçeli Sahte Peygamber Hâkim bin Haşim (Mukanna), "Hanım Korsan Dul Ching" de diğer ilgi çekici anlatılar.
Ryan
Jan 17, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A catalog of bad persons and their wrongdoings. Entertaining and funny, and sometimes scary. There are many novels inside this encyclopedia novel. The tradition of writing down personal histories in compressed form (vignettes), popularized here by Borges, clearly extends to contemporary writers. Cases in point: Nazi Literature in the Americas and Written Lives. In these histories are multifaceted representations of multi-faced evil and vanity, potent even in small doses.
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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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“Éste es el final de la historia de los cuarenta y siete hombres leales —salvo que no tiene final, porque los otros hombres, que no somos leales tal vez, pero que nunca perderemos del todo la esperanza de serlo, seguiremos honrándolos con palabras.” 0 likes
“El Ángel me decía que los carneros no eran del color de los tigres, el Satán me decía que el Poderoso quería que lo fueran y se valía de mi astucia y mi púrpura. Ahora yo sé que el Ángel y el Satán erraban la verdad y que todo color es aborrecible.” 0 likes
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