Brandon's Reviews > Collected Fictions

Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
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Feb 21, 11

it was amazing
Read in February, 2011

Notes on Borges:

Favorite Stories:
Library of Babel
The Immortal
Funes, the Memorious
The Aleph
Inferno, I, 32
Blue Tigers
Shakespeare's Memory


"Homer composed the *Odyssey*; given infinite time, with infinite circumstances and changes, it is impossible that the *Odyssey should *not* be composed at least once. No one is someone; a single immortal man is all men. Like Cornelius Agrippa, I am god, hero, philosopher, demon, and world--which is a long-winded way of saying that *I am not.*"

The Immortal (p191)

"At last I believe I understood. To die for a religion is simpler than living that religion fully; battling savage beasts in Ephesus is less difficult (thousands of obscure martyrs did it) than being Paul, the server of Jesus Christ; a single act is quicker than all the hours of a man. The battle and the glory are easy..."

Deutsches Requiem (p231)


"A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, 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."

Afterword to MUSUEM, Buenos Aires, October 31, 1960. (p327)

"Friendship, you know, is as mysterious as love or any other state of this confusion we call life. In fact, I have sometimes suspected that the only thing that holds no mystery is happiness, because it is its own justification."

Unworthy (p355)

"No one may capture in a single instant the fullness of his entire past. That gift was never granted even to Shakespeare, so far as I know, much less to me, who was but his partial heir. A man's memory is not a summation; it is a chaos of vague possibilities. St. Augustine speaks, if I am not mistaken, of the palaces and the caverns of memory. That second metaphor is the more fitting one. It was into those caverns that I descended." (p513)

"As the years pass, every man is forced to bear the growing burden of his memory." (p514)

Shakespeare's Memory

The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. From any hexagon one can see the floors above and below--on after another, endlessly. The arrangement of the galleries is always the same: Twenty bookshelves, five to each side, line four of the hexagon's six sides; the height of the bookshelves, floor to ceiling, is hardly greater than the height of a normal librarian. One of the hexagon's free sides opens onto a narrow sort of vestibule, which in turn opens onto another gallery, identical to the first--identical in fact to all. To the left and right of the vestibule are two tiny compartments. One is for sleeping, upright; the other for satisfying one's physical necessities. Through this space, too, there passes a spiral staircase, which winds upward and downward into the remotest distance. In the vestibule there is a mirror, which faithfully duplicates appearances....Light is provided by certain spherical fruits that bear the name "bulbs." There are two of these bulbs in each hexagon, set crosswise. The light they give is insufficient, and unceasing.
...Each wall of each hexagon is furnished with five bookshelves; each bookshelf holds thirty-two books identical in format; each book contains four hundred ten pages; each page, forty lines; each line, approximately eighty black letters. There are also letters on the front cover of each book; those letters neither indicate nor prefigure what the pages inside will say....There are twenty-five orthographic symbols.

The Library of Babel
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