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# The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel

by

"The Library of Babel" is arguably Jorge Luis Borges' best known story--memorialized along with Borges on an Argentine postage stamp. Now, in

Written in the vein of Dougla ...more

*The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel*, William Goldbloom Bloch takes readers on a fascinating tour of the mathematical ideas hidden within one of the classic works of modern literature.Written in the vein of Dougla ...more

## Get A Copy

Hardcover, 192 pages

Published
September 1st 2008
by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published August 25th 2008)

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## Community Reviews

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May 11, 2011
Paul Bryant
marked it as probably-never

**Book shelf enlargement**is an issue that many men consider at some point during their lives. It is not uncommon for men to feel embarrassed or anxious about the size of their book shelves, from a young age all the way through life. The ladies do not like to see books stacked in corners of rooms, unsightly and hap-hazard. Fortunately, for the many men between the ages of 18-80 who are looking to add inches to their book shelves, there are a number of shelf enlargement products and treatments out ...more

Mar 25, 2017
Celebrilomiel
rated it
liked it

Recommended to Celebrilomiel by:
Ellise

Shelves:
to-read-in-2017,
numbers,
read-in-2017,
nonfiction,
wishlist,
to-reread,
0-interlibrary-loan

Fascinating, accessible, and thought-provoking.

In the first-person-singular sections that bookend the first-person-plural mathematical chapters, Bloch's prose had such a friendly and humorous tone that I liked him right away and went from merely intellectually open to fully invested and eager to see what he had to say on approaching Borges' short story through the lens of mathematics. He was like a best friend who delights you with his presence as well as his turn of phrase and makes you instan ...more

In the first-person-singular sections that bookend the first-person-plural mathematical chapters, Bloch's prose had such a friendly and humorous tone that I liked him right away and went from merely intellectually open to fully invested and eager to see what he had to say on approaching Borges' short story through the lens of mathematics. He was like a best friend who delights you with his presence as well as his turn of phrase and makes you instan ...more

The complete text of "The Library of Babel" is included here ...more

As a book of mathematics, this is an absolutely wonderful book! Very fun—very easy to follow for aspiring mathematicians of all calibers! Five out of five!

As a book on the literature of Borges, this is a terrible book. Incredibly reductive in its approach to the importance of mathematics in Borges' work. Very easily a one out of five.

This book was not so much an exploration of the intersection between mathematics and literature as it was a sort of fun excuse to explore some wonderfully co ...more

An indefinite number of ... hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. ... Twenty bookshelves ... line four of the hexagon's six sides... One of the hexagon'...more

Jan 09, 2016
to'c
rated it
it was amazing

Recommends it for:
Borges fans, math fans, and anybody else interested in expanding their mind.

One would have to write like Borges himself to praise this book adequately. I only grant five stars to books that expand my mind in some great and meaningful way and Mr. Bloch certainly succeeded in doing that. In many ways Borges' "Library of Babel" is one of his simplest and most accessible stories. The Universe as a gigantic library. Yet it is full of too much depth to be contained in that very library. Mr. Block now informs us that there is far more depth to be found than you may have imagin
...more

*The Library of Babel*is the best example of how Borges brilliantly weaved mathematical ideas into his fiction. This book explores some of the mathematical implications of this ingenious short story. Bloch has a great eye for spotting hidden idea in the story and then expanding upon them. The best was using the Library as a universal Turing machine.

"The librarian’s life and the Library together embody a Turing machine, running an unimaginable program whose output can only be interpreted by a godlike external observer. A user. A reader."

If you have the slightest interest in mathematics, Borges, or glimpsing infinity, I'd suggest you track this one down through a library system at once. I don't think there's another book like it in the world. It's such an unusual that I can ...more

While it didn't quite live up to the GEB plug, it was pretty darn good. As someone with a kinda of mathy background in a technical field, I thought the first few chapters were a little weak but a nice warm up. I especially liked the chapter on Topology, which had the most in depth coverage.

I learned a few new things, got a goo ...more

If you got as far as calculus in your math studies then you can probably follow most of the math without too much trouble. If you are a fan of Borges, there is a lot here about his math background and interests that you probably didn't know an ...more

Jun 16, 2012
Jon Gauthier
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Casual math geeks

Shelves:
math

Very accessible; written in a lively and exciting tone that I wish were more common in this genre!

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