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The Garden of Forking Paths

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,890 ratings  ·  190 reviews
"The Garden of Forking Paths" (original Spanish title: "El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan") is the title story in the collection El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (1941), which was republished in its entirety in Ficciones (Fictions) in 1944. It was the first of Borges's works to be translated into English by Anthony Boucher when it appeared in Ellery Queen's Myster ...more
Audiobook, 10 pages
Published June 24th 2010 by Penguin Audio (first published 1941)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
El Jardín De Los Senderos Que se Bifurcan = The Garden of Forking Paths, Jorge Luis Borges

The Garden of Forking Paths is a 1941 short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges.

As the story begins, Doctor Tsun has realized that an MI5 agent called Captain Richard Madden is pursuing him, has entered the apartment of his handler Viktor Runeberg, and has either captured or killed him. Doctor Tsun is certain that his own arrest is next. He has just discovered the location of a new British
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Written in 1941, The Garden of Forking Paths is a fascinating short story set during the first world war. The story introduces a Chinese spy living in England and working for Germany during the war, 1916. His cover has just been blown and he is on the run with sensitive information.

He travels to meet one person who might be able to deliver this information to Germany.

And at this point, everything changes... to a hard science fiction thesis! (Think: Multiverse)

I enjoyed this story immensely, main
Ian "Marvin" Graye
The Universal Library

If life (or a life) can be construed as a text, then the universe might be (analogous to) a library:

"The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries."

This early, 1941 collection is a mini-gallery of Borges stories that revolve around construction and interpretation, imagination and understanding, of the universe. On the way, it takes in time, space, meaning, truth, consciousness, our selves and our rel
The basest of art’s temptations: the temptation to be a genius” (from The Approach to Al-Mu’tasm). In this collection, Borges proves that he succumbed. And I’m very glad he did.

I have the Collected 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 second, published in 1941, and this is where Borges starts to blow my mind.

Some of these stories are initially rather opaque
Side note: today (August 24) is Borges' aniversary and here is a great article on his vision of Time:


I learned about this story in Paul Halpern’s book The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality . The author mentioned it when explaining Feynman’s theory ‘sum over histories’ about the multiple paths taken by particles interaction at quantum level.

I don’t think science was in Borges mind when written th
Steven Godin
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ingenious! it's a riddle, a parable, and a philosophical story all rolled into one, that requires to be read more than once. Beautifully written by Borges who really sucks you into his world, and, like always, there is a deeper meaning to things than one first thinks, and themes of time and the infinite are ever present. Dazzling stuff! ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review to come sometime in the near future when I finally get enough time to myself to write reviews for everything I've read recently. I got very strong Bioshock Infinite vibes from the concept, which is always a good thing, and it also put me in mind of the superb Doctor Who episode called The Girl Who Waited- both of these, of course, came into being long after this short story was published, which makes it all the more impressive for still being so intriguing despite all the spins various me ...more
“This web of time – the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries – embraces every possibility. We do not exist in most of them. In some you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not.”
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
You are having breakfast this morning. Cereals. You are also floating in the middle of the ocean now, alone in a raft, trying to survive a shipwreck three days ago. Both are true as well as all the millions of possibilities about you and everyone else.

Goodreads quote for today by Janet Frame: "There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water." Yesterday, it was: "Am I alive and a reality, or am I but a dream?" (Edgar Rice Burroughs). Two of the many num
dc craig
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Borges is a philosopher's writer: He uses literary narratives as a vehicle for expressing the ideas of philosophy and, in particular, epistemology. The reason why his work is so important is that it places literature more securely onto a knowledge footing. The human experience is described not just persuasively on its own terms, but within a framework of well-developed theories of truth and knowledge.

The Garden of Forking Paths deals with a number of epistemological concepts. The most prominent
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite an interesting short story, especially when the concept of time is being talked about- my eternal object of horror.
The magic realism of Borges always tickles my interest in the most curious of ways.
Cymru Roberts
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: latin-american
“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” and “An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain” are the stories here that stand out most to me. They comprise a genre of short story that I’ll call “apocryphal” for lack of a better term, because they outline works that don’t exist (that is, one can’t go to the library and check them out, or order them from Amazon, or can they?!). Although there may be examples of apocryphal literature before Borges, he must be the genre’s champion. The homages of later writers onl ...more
RJ from the LBC
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Uses a WWII spy story as a framing device to discuss the idea of the many possibilities that lie beyond each choice and the idea that each outcome could be seen as a separate reality, a labyrinthine "Garden of Forking Paths." ...more
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I imagined it infinite, no longer composed of octagonal kiosks and returning paths, but of rivers and provinces and kingdoms . . . I thought of a labyrinth of labyrinths, of one sinuous spreading labyrinth that would encompass the past and the future and in some way involve the stars.

Written in 1941, The Garden of the Forking Paths is my first taste of renown Argentinian writer Borge Louis Borges, credited as the progenitor of magical realism, a literary movement weaving fantasy into the realist
Saba Gohar
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish it was a full length novel. Such great writing. Such great story line.

A manuscript is letting us know about a German spy who has to complete a mission as his co-conspirator is killed. As he is led to the house that reveals a history about his ancestor that confluences a maze/labyrinth and the book he wrote, he completes his mission in an astonishing way.

Excellent writing!
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book deserves to read more than 1 time to digest. A book about imagination and recursion. The last story starts to question chronologies and causality of events happened in the world; ending in a absurd way and leaving reader wondering not only the story but also the real world.
Lucie Goroyan
I thought of a maze of mazes, of a sinuous, ever growing maze which would take in both past and future and would somehow involve the stars.
Kelly Hopkins
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An exhilarating spy story combined with magical realism. Borges proposes that time is infinite and its path forks forward based on the decisions made when faced with choices. The reader is left seesawing on the premise of fate versus free will (and likely ruminating on how choices/decisions may have altered their own lives). This notion goes one step further when the characters are allowed to become unbound from decision making and can occupy all paths concurrently thus creating multiple paralle ...more
Jimmy Ele
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was a bit torn as to how to rate this work of Borges. On the one hand it contains the awe inspiring "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" as well as "The Library of Babel", "The Garden of Forking Paths", "The Circular Ruins", and the "The Approach to Al-Mutasim". On the other hand it suffered from the pedantic overly detailed works that go by the names of "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote", "A Survey of the Works of Herbert Quain", and "The Lottery In Babylon". In the end, the amazingness of those ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite story to teach in world lit. It is a great detective story on the surface, and a philosophical ideology that will blow your mind. what if every decision you made or didn't make happened. each decision doesn't shut down the other options, they happen too. everything happens. there are multitudes of other yous doing everything you ever thought about. where would you be now? there you are too. ...more
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There're good books and bad books. A few - great books. Then there're some works (The garden of forking paths is one of them) which are beyond such unnecessary and tempting classifications. These are the ones that make you feel proud as a human being coz you can marvel at how impressively humans ( at leat one of them, named Borges) have evolved. Sheer brilliance. Read it . Just read it. ...more
Matthew Frack
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really liked all these short stories. I think the eponymous first one is the best, but each of the short stories was interesting and well-written. I love the way Borges writes about time and space, it's amazing. ...more
Ian Lindstrom
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, classics
Very interesting. Makes me want to read more of his stuff.
Jessie Gaston
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
v together collection of stories
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
About to cry and moan. After reading that. No reason. Drowning in the flood of tears and regrets. Long to go, but fear to go.
Βασίλειος Μέγας
Rachel J.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On magic, labyrinths, the mind, infinity, reality, creation, and so forth... Borges' short stories are somewhat of a puzzle in themselves to decipher - but it's all fun. ...more
Pete Majarich
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elaborate and brilliant. Stokes the imagination.
Harry Doble
Jorge Luis Borges is a writer who came to my attention at just about the right time for me. Three quarters of the way through majoring in literature during my Arts degree, his stories spoke to the excitement of all the new ideas buzzing around my head as well as the creeping influence of philosophical scepticism brought on by my studies in philosophy. A librarian during his lifetime, Borges took flashes of inspiration from his esoteric knowledge of classical and antiquarian literature to write s ...more
Keith Murphy
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
First time reading this author. His writings honestly feel like a gift.
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On Paths Unknown: The Garden of Forking Paths - with spoilers 10 14 Sep 15, 2015 01:49PM  

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Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo, usually referred to as Jorge Luis Borges (Spanish pronunciation: [xoɾxe lwis boɾxes]), 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 wo ...more

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