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The Garden of Forking Paths

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,773 ratings  ·  187 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 ...more
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Published June 24th 2010 by Penguin Audio (first published 1941)
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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,
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
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
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
Borges’ stories are so dense – it took me several hours to read this tiny volume (54 pages); I’d usually read a novella twice the length in half the time. This collection is a perfect introduction to the work of a writer who can seem intimidating to the uninitiated. It has given me the confidence to read more Borges, and that seems to me exactly what these small Penguin Modern collections should do.

I’ve said this before, but there’s a special thrill to reading a famous writer’s work and
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 this
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
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 ...more
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!
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
Wow! I do have the complete short stories of Borges in the household, but had the chance to pick up on that. Meanwhile I did purchase this little book of short stories by Borges in Japan for reading on my flight back to Los Angeles, and it's an amazing experience, especially when I'm suffering from jet-lag. "The Book of Sand" is the story for book collectors and those who are fascinated with collections. I identify with the leading character, in the sense of having such a sacred volume. Then ...more
I do not think I had ever read any of Argentinian author Borges' work before picking up the forty-sixth Penguin Modern,The Garden of Forking Paths. I was not entirely sure, from other reviews which I have seen of various pieces of Borges' work, whether this would be for me. Collected here are several 'fantastical tales of mazes, puzzles, lost labyrinths and bookish mysteries, from the unique imagination of a literary magician', and all were first published during the 1940s. They have been ...more
Sometimes magical realism really works for me (and then it really works for me) and sometimes it doesn't. Most of these stories are very heavy on the fantastical, fairytale aspects of magical realism which I found a little confusing at times. I might just need to re-read them at some point though.
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
“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.”
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.
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
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 ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
A fun little foray into Borges' expansive imagination. I love these little Penguin moderns for giving me a taste of famous authors I've maybe not read before. I'll definitely be picking up more by Borges.
Marija (Inside My Library Mind)
This is a great little collection, centered around labyrinths. I really adore Borges' writing, it's whimsical and really masterful, and I really enjoyed these little stories. His prose is a lot like a dream - you never know exactly how you got there, but it's still so magical and immersive. Definitely recommend
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.
Nick Traynor
I did enjoy this collection of short stories and the common theme of labyrinths/puzzles running through them, although they were very brief, which was a shame. This was my first exposure to Jorge Luis Borges and I would like to read something more substantial from him.

The Garden of Forking Paths – nothing particularly original or special. So complicated in the beginning, it was difficult to get going. 3/5

The Book of Sand – really short, insubstantial story but an interesting idea. 4/5

Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
That dude sure likes labyrinths huh
Marts  (Thinker)
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Visit my poetic review here: https://formuchdeliberation.wordpress...
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
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.
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!
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. This was a nice introduction to Jorge Luis Borges and I now know that I'm not at all ready to read one of his novels. These short stories were just right. Not all, but the ones who were are brilliant (Book of Sand. Book of Sand. Book of Sand!!!).
Βασίλειος Μέγας
Clement Peng
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.
Walter Schutjens
An ironic parabole on the workings of time.
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
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On Paths Unknown: The Garden of Forking Paths - with spoilers 10 13 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 ...more
“In a riddle whose answer is chess, what is the only prohibited word?” 21 likes
“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.” 10 likes
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