Rachel's Reviews > The Book of Imaginary Beings

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

's review
Aug 25, 12

liked it
bookshelves: summer-12

This book is great! Unlike Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Holly Black's Arthur Spiderwick's Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, which provide authoritative portraits of magical creatures in a particular fantasy world, The Book of Imaginary Beings compiles interesting stories and details about a diverse array of imagined beasts, drawing from both Western and Eastern mythologies. Borges's aim is not simply to delight his readers with whimsical stories couched in a satirical tone--though he manages this quite well--but to ascertain the true purpose of these beings in humanity's collective consciousness.

"We do not know what the dragon means," Borges writes in the Introduction, "just as we do not know the meaning of the universe, but there is something in the image of a dragon that is congenial to man's imagination, and thus the dragon arises in many latitudes and ages. It is, one might say, a necessary monster...."

This gets to the heart of what fascinates every fantasy lover or typologist. What are our profound hopes; our neurotic fears? What force drives us to tell the same stories over and over, resurrecting our favorite characters and their villains again and again?

Keep this noble cause in mind as you skim this book, and it will help you get through the drier bits. Not every entry sparkles with Borges's wit. Some unfamiliar creatures, like the A Bao A Qu or Animals That Live in the Mirror, are a joy to meet, while others could have remained obscure.

Read it before bed, and be sure to remember your dreams.
7 likes · flag

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

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Daria (new) - added it

Daria Great review. I want this book!

message 2: by Ana (new) - added it

Ana I read it before bed... And it's true. Dreamed some weird-ass dreams!

John My favourite part is all the two-headed creatures. It's somehow fascinating that it's such a common thing (apart from the one guy who denied its possibility). Also looking forward to the Minotaur entry, what with having come across Borges from reading House of Leaves

back to top