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La biblioteca de Babel

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  4,840 ratings  ·  242 reviews
Cuento "La biblioteca de Babel".
ebook, 12 pages
Published (first published 1941)
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4.46  · 
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 ·  4,840 ratings  ·  242 reviews

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In Borges's short story, the world consists of a gigantic library which contains every possible book that can ever be written. So, somewhere, there must logically be the book, the one that reveals the Library's secret! Unfortunately, there is no filing system, and no one has any idea of how to find the elusive book. In fact, it's challenging even to locate one which contains a meaningful sentence: most of them are gibberish from beginning to end.

Well, our own world isn't quite as bad - but it's
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I read "The Library of Babel," one of Jorge Luis Borges’ most famous stories, as part of the Ficciones collection. “The Library of Babel” posits a universe in the form of a library made out of connected hexagonal rooms, each room filled with books and the barest necessities for life. Each book contains 410 pages, with 40 lines of 80 letters each. There are 25 letters and punctuation marks in the alphabet. The Library contains every possible combination of those letters. Most of the books are com ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey, you. Yea, I am talking to you! Do you want to get freaked out by the sheer magnitude of an idea that's right in front of you? Step right in!

In this short story, Author Jorge Luis Borges envisions a universe in the form of a vast library, a library of meticulous pattern and structure. In this library, you can find an incomprehensible number of hexagonal rooms with a specific number of books: Books that contain all knowledge of the universe. But here is the catch: All this knowledge is mixed
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, this is a short story, but there is so much in it that I reread it a half dozen times, found a few audio readings and looked up summaries trying to grasp the whole story. Basically its weird, but cool.
In this guys universe the world is made up of libraries. Each room is a hexagon with two small closets. One is a bathroom and the other is a room to sleep standing up. People are born, live and die in these rooms.
Now here is where it gets really bad. There are only four shelves of books in
For a book to exist, it is sufficient that it is possible. Only the impossible is excluded.”

Paradoxes abound in this allegory that has aspects of The Blind Watchmaker, especially DNA, and also the Infinite Monkey Theorem.

I have the Collected Fictions (with copious translator's notes), but am splitting my review of that into its components, in publication order: Collected Fictions - all reviews. This is one of the the longer stories in The Garden of Forking Paths, published in 1941.

The universe
Mar 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: argentina
Found this to be a great analogy to the world we live in. Everyone seems to have the answer to all of life's problems, but the issue is it's not so simple to sort through all of the variables when you have little to no means of measuring each option. That's pretty much how I read this short story, in life it is feasible to live the 'perfect' life, since the variables are there, however since there is no distinctive guide to do so, we are forced to do our best to sort through the gibberish (in th ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the brief prose piece The Four Cycles Jorge Luis Borges wrote that there are only four stories in the world: the story of war, the story of return, the story of search and the story of sacrifice (Troy, Ulysses, Jason, Christ).
“Four are the stories. During the time left to us we will continue telling them, transformed.”
And there is no other writer who can retell these four stories the way Jorge Luis Borges does transforming them into intellectual labyrinths and scholarly conundrums.
He turns
Steven Godin
Borges's philosophical short-story describes the universe in terms of an infinite library constructed in a series of hexagon galleries in which the books contain every possible combination of letters, spaces and punctuation marks providing a metaphor for thinking about knowledge and truth. As a paradox of infinite possibilities, some of the volumes within turn out to be what appears to be complete gibberish, Some go nuts from the despair of trying to logically understand and catalogue every book ...more
Vimal Thiagarajan

You who read me - are you certain you understand my language?

Understanding? Certain? Wouldn't even pretend. A Kaleidoscope of earlier ideas like Borel's dactylographic monkey theorem, Pascal's metaphor and Robert Burton's variations, a mathematical thought experiment with infinities and labyrinths that employs cabalistic reasoning which blurs the infinite and the finite with philosophical implications that puts the Gita in mind, a melting pot of motifs that would influence Eco's influential mast
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jorge Luis Borges, one of the most imaginative writers I have come across, could have been a mathematician, a physicist, a philosopher or a theologian. I can see his influence on Umberto Eco in the manipulation of text and the blending between fiction and reality. To read Borges is to immerse myself in a magical world where the concept of infinity manifests in space and time, where the boundary between dream and reality fades, where the past and the future converge into an instant, where levels ...more
John Wiswell
Sep 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Jorge Borges, fantasy readers, sci fi readers, anyone with an underappreciated imagination
Easily one of the strangest books I've ever read. I actually ordered it by accident, thinking it was an anthology. But actually this entire slender volume is devoted to one Borges short story, complete with beautiful etchings showing that his impossible library is actually possible. While it's not worth the cover price for everyone, anyone who dismissed his fictional library should flip through these pages and see that he wasn't writing flippantly. As "Library of Babel" was possibly Borges' most ...more
Ramona Arsene
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
" I am perhaps misled by old age and fear, but I suspect that the human species - the only species - teeters at the verge of extinction, yet that the Library enlightened, solitary, infinite, perfectly unmoving, armed with precious volumes, pointless, incorruptible, and secret-will endure."
Mohammed Amarnah
Before you read this book, drink a cup of coffee and solve a math problem or two (preferably a geometrical problem, and it would be great if it involved hexagons).

This is definitely not an easy book. At least not for me. But it is amazing, full of imagination and wonder! :)
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Works best as a philosophical exercise contemplating the nature of the infinite and the human process for decoding reality.
This is a fantastic and thought provoking book. I first heard of it while reading this essay by Christopher Rowe.

I know that Borges is really discussing the history, and completeness, of human knowledge but his essay, as Rowe suggests, has marked implications for those trying to create a universal library today. Such entities might include Google or Amazon, amongst others. The sheer futility of gathering every last letter of every last book that has ever existed, or that could possibly have exis
Aiden Heavilin
This story is not fiction. The library of babel exists. You can view it here:

At present, the site has catalogued every possible combination of 3200 characters. You can read how its done on the site – its really incredible. You can type in any paragraph, from the opening of your own novel to the end of your favorite thriller, and find that it already exists in a specific page of a specific book on a specific shelf in the library.

Navigating the site is an eerie experie
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All books that will ever be written exist, we have just not created them yet. This is what Borges postulates with this short story. My initial reaction to reading this is that it is a mildly arrogant viewpoint. But then again, is it really less arrogant than us saying that we were the ones that wrote the book, that it was generated by the human mind? I don’t think we can answer for certain either of these things. What I do know is that this is a damn good short story.
David Lafferty
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of Umberto Eco and The Name of the Rose I knew that Borges and Joyce were required reading. This short story by Borges is brilliant and demands many more readings. His influence on Eco is clearly seen. Looking forward to reading more of his work, and then on to Joyce!
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine that the Universe could be a library....and the worlds its books. It's important that we all read this story because it's the story of our shared experiences... of our shared humanity. It's a short story yet an epic. And speaking anymore of it would disturb its outrageously imaginative story line. Read it. You will be glad you did! 4.5 stars.
Sandra Ramirez
"When I am dead, compassionate hands will throw me over the railing; my tomb will be the unfathomable air, my body will sink for ages, and will decay and dissolve in the wind engendered by my fall, which shall be infinite."
You who read me, are you sure you’re understanding my language?
Nope, not this time Borges. I still like you!!!
Lovely Fortune
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was really taken away by this short story we had to read in class. It presents a lot of questions about the meaning of language and how distinct each person's way of speaking, writing, interpreting, etc. varies. How can you ever really know exactly what a person is saying?

It also presents the question of whether or not words really matter or not when you live in a world where every possible thing that can be written has been written in this vast library--even the most random letter combinatio
SaBa Ch
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
(Perhaps my old age and fearfulness deceive me, but I suspect that the human
species --the unique species -- is about to be extinguished, but the Library will
endure, illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious
volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.
You who read me, are You sure of understanding my language?)

Anyone who loves books must read this short story by Jorge Luis Borges, ,It is incredibly, amazing <3
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extraordinary, thought-provoking, and intelligent. The story trods along the border of allegory/satire and pure fiction. Profound philosophical undertones too. Small enough to give a read without any prior-contemplation. :)
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
K is planning on reading something that appears to be influenced by this, so I made her read it.

...I had to follow along, of course.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantasm. I’m glad I am listening.
Ericka Clouther
This is my one of my favorite Borges short stories. It's an amazing philosophical thought experiment. (Note from a reread: The library in The Magicians anyone?)
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: librarians
Borges's short piece (the entire text is approximately twenty pages) revolves around the conceit of the library as a metaphor for the universe; each room a hexagon lined on four sides with shelves, and then the librarian's quarters (all are librarians) and then the doorway into the next identical room. It is the same both up and down and on all sides, an infinite regression of rooms filled with books, an infinite amount of books, and the sum of the library containing every permutation of letters ...more
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This work of pure beautiful imagination presents a world consisting of endless rooms, in which there are kept endless books. Books contain random letters, but every once in a while, one can find a book where, by pure chance, some of the random letters form a word. In this world, finding a book where every word makes sense, and even forms a story, is incredibly rare. These are the books our characters are after, but it can take lifetimes to find one, as the odds of such word compositions appearin ...more
Marc Ocana
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A short story yet vast in its attempt as an allegory of the universe. It explains man's endeavors at understanding the complexities of everything ever created, asking where and how and why our existence came about. The infinite hexagonal galleries signify how intense our universe is, and how it is expanding, both in the sense of space and of knowledge.

The library is said to contain everything that has ever been written, and everything that will be written, in all languages both dead and thriving
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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
“You who read me, are You sure of understanding my language?” 147 likes
“I know of a wild region whose librarians repudiate the vain superstitious custom of seeking any sense in books and compare it to looking for meaning in dreams or in the chaotic lines of one's hands . . . They admit that the inventors of writing imitated the twenty-five natural symbols, but they maintain that this application is accidental and that books in themselves mean nothing. This opinion - we shall see - is not altogether false.” 19 likes
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