ashok's Reviews > The Book of Imaginary Beings

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 03, 11

Read from February 24 to March 03, 2011

This book is an anthology of mythical and literary creatures described in the inimitable style of Borges. There are 120 different passages documenting such fauna , the following is from "Fauna of Mirrors" :

In one of the volumes of the Lettres edifiantes et curieuses that appeared in Paris during the first half of the eighteenth century, Father Fontecchio of the Society of Jesus planned a study of the superstitions and misinformation of the common people of Canton; in the preliminary outline he noted that the Fish was a shifting and shining creature that nobody had ever caught but that many said they had glimpsed in the depths of mirrors.

Father Fontecchio died in 1736, and the work begun by his pen remained unfinished; some years later Herbert Allen Giles took up the interrupted task.

According to Giles, belief in the Fish is part of a larger myth that goes back to the legendary times of the Yellow Emperor. In those days the world of mirrors and the world of men were not, as they are now, cut off from each other. They were, besides, quite different; neither beings nor colors nor shapes were the same. Both kingdoms, the specular and the human, lived in harmony; you could come and go through mirrors.

One night the mirror people invaded the earth. Their power was great, but at the end of bloody warfare the magic arts of the Yellow Emperor prevailed. He repulsed the invaders, imprisoned them in their mirrors, and forced on them the task of repeating, as though in a kind of dream, all the actions of men. He stripped them of their power and of their forms and reduced them to mere slavish reflections.

This from "Cerberus" :

If Hell is a house, the house of Hades, it is natural that it have its watchdog; its natural that this dog be fearful.

Hesiod's "Theogony" gives it fifty heads; to make things easier for the plastic arts this number has been reduced, and Cerberus' three heads are a matter of public record.

A book to be owned, enjoyed and read over again.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Book of Imaginary Beings.
sign in »

No comments have been added yet.