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The Book of Sand and Shakespeare's Memory

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  10,361 ratings  ·  692 reviews
Alternate cover edition — ISBN: 0141183829

'One of the most remarkable artists of our age' - Mario Vargas Llosa. The Book of Sand was the last of Borges' major collections to be published. The stories are, in his words, 'variations on favourite themes...combining a plain and at times almost colloquial style with a fantastic plot'. It includes such marvellous tales as "The C
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 159 pages
Published April 5th 2001 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published January 1st 1975)
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Glenn Russell
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Aesthetic experience is extraordinary in the sense that it is always ours alone, uniquely ours. And some aesthetic experiences hit us right between the eyes with a knockout punch - these are encounters we will never forget. One such encounter was my reading this collection of stories by Jorge Luis Borges some thirty years ago. The images of the book of sand with its infinite pages, the hermit looking for a one-sided disk, an author's pristine lovemaking with a beautiful woman - for me, all aesth
Bill Kerwin
May 18, 2007 rated it really liked it

This is one of Borges' last books, and many of the pieces here are less than his best.

"The Congress," however, is a tale of the microcosm as powerful and effective as "The Aleph," and "The Book of Sand" is also one of Borge's finest stories. "The Sect of Thirty" is an excellent short piece, and the theological implications of this account of heresy are both disturbing and illuminating.

Don't expect too much, and you will enjoy watching an old master at work.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
There's something really sensory and textured about JLB's fiction writing. Reading his work always invokes the distinct smell of dusty leather-bound books, the creaking sounds of flawed wood floors lightly tread upon by anonymous figures in the corridors of giant, empty houses, the odors of burnt coffee and blackened toast, a wind-gust through a broken and off-kilter porch chime. A little stuffy at times, but in that charming, quirky professor sort of way, the one who always wore mod-colored twe ...more
“It’s not the reading that matters, but the rereading.”
So true of all JLB’s works

I have the Collected Fictions, but am splitting my review of that into its components, listed in publication order: Collected Fictions - all reviews. The Book of Sand is the eighth, published in 1975.

After the generally quite straightforward stories of Brodie's Report, this is a (welcome) return to more mystical, metaphysical tales.

This review does NOT include the four stories published as Shakespeare’s Memory.

Vit Babenco
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By The Book of Sand Jorge Luis Borges continues his lifelong trek through the paradoxical land of human mind.
In The Other he meets himself in person but his doppelganger is younger and they have a grand intellectual discussion. Well, I too meet myself every day in the mirror but so far we have no conversations – God forefend!
“I find my sadness over the death of that man (who most emphatically was never my friend) to be curiously stubborn. I know that I am alone; I am the world's only custodian o
So much of how we react to the books we read is determined by circumstance and expectation. When I read Borges' Fictions at the beginning of this year, I had heard a lot about the author and had very high expectations. I did enjoy Fictions, but in all honesty it didn't quite match my expectations, and I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have.

Now, reading The Book of Sand and Shakespeare's Memory, the circumstances are different. After having consumed so much Beckett, with his abstract int
Ashley Daviau
While I did enjoy a couple of these stories, for the most part I was left feeling quite bored by this collection. I don’t know if it’s because I was reading in French which isn’t my first language or because the book is a translation and the magic got lost in translation, either one is entirely possible! I am still glad I read it though, it’s something I never would have read before and I’m enjoying pushing my reading comfort zone a bit!
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books are made to be reread, says Borges in one of his short stories. I definitely have to reread this oneX maybe in one year, maybe in ten. or maybe one short story a month. short story is not completely accurate. Borges has the power to create whole universes in just a few pages. there are so many motives and themes in this book, it is simply overwhelming. He talks about love, about alterego, about writing, about infinity, about death, about words, about heresy. His erudism is overwhelming, hi ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, read-2019
Once upon a time… once upon a long time when I was in high school we read one of Borhes’ stories, I don’t remember which one but I remember liking it a lot. And ever since that day I got it into my head that I would like his other stuff—don’t ask me why, I just did—albeit it took me years to get my hands on something of his and to actually see if that’s true.

Sadly, I didn’t feel much while reading this. I liked The Other, A Weary Man’s Utopia, The disc and The Book of Sand, but at the same time
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In this short story, you can find a Scotsman, a discussion on bibliophilism and on a not very famous - but known to every reader - feeling that some books take over your soul. I had books like the book of sand in my life. Some I had to stop for a period. They took over too much of my imagination and of my life too if I'm honest.
I loved those books and felt sad when I finished it. This story is about these feelings. You should read it. It's so small. And so significant, it could only be the semi
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Stirred by the Telling

"The Book of Sand" doesn't quite have the cohesion of "Brodie's Report", but it almost compensates for it in the diversity of its subject matter and style.

There is a similar interest in the mechanics of metafiction. Borges introduces the first story, "The Other", by describing an incident like this:

"I didn't write about it then because my foremost objective at the time was to put it out of my mind, so as not to go insane. Now, in 1972 [three years later], it strik
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's Borges: if you get it, you love it, if you don't, oh well, if you're not sure, you shouldn't start with this at all, but with the more inescapable Fictions + The Aleph.

Also you can be mean to HP all you want, Jorge, but you still wrote a piece of fan fiction for him! Ha-ha, you like Lovecraft!
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jayaprakash by:
Shelves: fantasy, borges
A re-read, actually, and a different translation, but anyway.

I don't see this as lesser Borges at all. The stories rarely have the stunning extrapolative gymnastics of Ficciones or The Aleph, but I think they have a more serene, wistful charm that places them as high as the former works. 'Ulrikke' is Borges' only romantic fiction, and it partakes of the strangeness of an MR James story. His Lovecraft tribute, 'There Are More Things' anticipates both Aickman and Ligotti in its assimilation of Lo
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fail to see what could have made so many people feel disappointed by this book. Perhaps it's just the fact that unlike most English speaking Borges readers, I was already well accustomed with Borges' less fantastical and erudite stories and poems instead of viewing him solely through the prism of Labyrinths. I found the whole book wonderful and painfully sad at the same time. I think my feelings towards it would be best explained by a quote from the book itself: I felt what we always feel when ...more
তানজীম Rahman)
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Borges is like Kafka for people who aren't morbidly depressed.
They both looked at the modern age through the lens of mythology and dreams. They managed to describe truths about the condition of the modern man, using not merely drab realism, but imagery previously reserved for epics and legends.
But that's where the similarities between these two great authors end, at least in my opinion.
Kafka looked at the modern world and saw monsters. Monsters whose tentacles take the forms of family, career,
Lucas Leite
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More impressions in my personal blog of reviews

It wasn't iPad, neither internet, it was sand (or paper)

"The number of pages in this book is no more or less than infinite.
None is the first page, none the last"
Jorge Luis Borges - The Sand Book

Reference to one of the tales, The Book of Sand is a small compendium of 13 short stories of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Together, these stories have in common the fantastic nature of the peculiar writing of Borges. But more than that, the 13 st
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fascinating. Now I understand why people practically worship Borges. This book is the literary equivalent of a hot cup of real tea. Not a herbal infusion, but real, distilled camellia sinensis leaves. It is a smooth read, sometimes bitter and sometimes relaxing.

The stories in The Book of Sand are important for the way they deal with their respective themes. Most of the stories aren't particularly exciting on their own, one must relish their true meaning. It is a hedonistic read, but it also has
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whether you write for fun, casual interest, or because you're seriously pursuing a career in the field, you will inevitably come across writers who inspire you. Sometimes they inspire you because they're so terrible you think surely you can do better & sometimes they inspire you because they're so good they get your creative blood flowing in a frenzied rush & you can't wait to pick up a pencil & get to it. Jorge Luis Borges doesn't fall in either of these categories, he falls into the category i ...more
Bob Newman
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: latin-america
Borges hits his private bullseye yet again

I don't know much about Jorge Luis Borges the man; I'm not an expert on him as a writer either. However, I do know that nobody can write a certain kind of story better than he. His specialty is to describe, in short, succinct sentences of utmost clarity, situations of eerie strangeness, earthy gaucho confrontations, or encounters with arcane religious figures. THE BOOK OF SAND is another volume of such stories that range over many centuries and thousands
This book is titled "The Book of Sand" after one of its short stories. In that short story, The Book of Sand is called such because it is a book with no beginning and no end and no pattern to its pages. I think it makes a suitable title for the collection of stories as a whole, though for slightly different reasons. When I read this book, trying to keep a grasp on the stories and their meanings and interconnectedness was like trying to hold a handful of sand - always slipping away, finding ways ...more
E. G.
The Book of Sand (1975)
--The Other
--The Congress
--There Are More Things
--The Sect of the Thirty
--The Night of the Gifts
--The Mirror and the Mask
--A Weary Man's Utopia
--The Bribe
--Avelino Arredondo
--The Disk
--The Book of Sand

Shakespeare's Memory (1983)
--August 25, 1983
--Blue Tigers
--The Rose of Paracelsus
--Shakespeare's Memory

A Note on the Translation
Notes to the Fictions
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading Borges has been on my list for years now. Finding copies of his books though, has been anything but straightforward, which, in hindsight, feels quite apt. In any case, it was more than worth it.

Borges' literary output in the fiction department consists of numerous short stories (mostly under 10 pages long), that manage to condense a number of themes within them.

The stories touch upon various themes and ideas, reflecting Borges' own interests and reading. They jump from mathematics, phil
102nd book for 2018.

These stories just didn't click for me. I found neither the characters nor the ideas particularly interesting. I'd be willing to try one of his more famous collections at some later point, but this first exposure to Borges left me cold.

Perhaps I should wait until my Spanish is sufficiently improved that I can tackle him in the original.

Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first story ("The Other") feels like a story that Borges not only could have written in his sleep, but did; the second ("Ulrike") didn't even have that much going for it, as it failed to elicit any connection from me at all. "The Congress" comes third, and is probably what I would consider the best story here; I hoped that the collection just got off to a slow start (like this story did, progressing from an initial banality that seems intended to lull the reader into a false sense of normalc ...more
Written in his later years, Borges's The Book of Sand (1975) and Shakespeare's Memory (1983) have sometimes been treated almost as "geriatrica" suffering from a diminishing imagination, if not from diminishing craft—as Hurley explains in the Introduction. Which is unfair: I agree with Hurley's bold reply that we should think about whether these stories simply could not have been written by a younger man.

I do not mind solitude; after all, it is hard enough to live with oneself and one’s own pec
A magnificent book by Borges.

Like Calvino (if it's a fair comparison, I believe so), we are involved in the stories portrayed by this brilliant writer.
El libro de arena finds Borges returning to old ideas while simplifying his writing approach. By this I don't mean his style becomes just easier to read; it is purified, cropped down till you have just the essential, le mot juste. I still believe Borges is sort of a one-trick pony, which makes this short story collection the less successful among his works. As great as the titular story or El otro are, to name some, I can't help but feel he has done this in a much better way in his masterpiece, ...more
Descending Angel
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borges
Two late works by Borges. The Book of Sand made up of 13 short stories and Shakespeare's Memory, 4 short stories. All of them are expertly written with no fat on any of them. They all deal with similar themes. Highlights ~ "the mirror and the mask" "undr" "a weary man's utopia" "the book of sand" "the rose of paracelsus" and "Shakespeare's Memory".
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Todd
Actually, I'm reading it in Spanish. But Goodreads doesn't have El Libro de Arena as an option...yet.

I'm really enjoying Borges, he has such a unique and consistent style. So unusual, imaginative and poetic.
Hagai Palevsky
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Outside awaited other dreams.
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On Paths Unknown: The Book of Sand 4 13 Sep 17, 2015 12:18AM  
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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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