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The Aleph and Other Stories

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  36,599 ratings  ·  1,784 reviews
Full of philosophical puzzles and supernatural surprises, these stories contain some of Borges's most fully realized human characters. With uncanny insight, he takes us inside the minds of an unrepentant Nazi, an imprisoned Mayan priest, fanatical Christian theologians, a woman plotting vengeance on her father’s “killer,” and a man awaiting his assassin in a Buenos Aires g ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published July 27th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published 1949)
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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 ·  36,599 ratings  ·  1,784 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing

We have all experienced different dimensions in our life, to name just three: waking, deep sleep and dreaming. Yet when it comes to describing or imagining the afterlife, I’ve read very few accounts postulating how awareness could shift between various levels; rather, life (or lack of life) after death tends to be portrayed as an uninterrupted hum all at one frequency, the three major frequencies: 1) awareness within a specific form, like a light body 2) formless awareness, that is,
Ahmad Sharabiani
EL aleph = The Aleph and Other Stories, Jorge Luis Borges

The Aleph and Other Stories is a book of short stories by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The title work, "The Aleph", describes a point in space that contains all other spaces at once.

The work also presents the idea of infinite time. Borges writes in the original afterword, dated May 3, 1949 (Buenos Aires), that most of the stories belong to the genre of fantasy, mentioning themes such as identity and immortality. Borges added four n
Vit Babenco
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every story is a step beyond…
Our twentieth century had inverted the story of Mohammed and the mountain; nowadays, the mountain came to the modern Mohammed.

Isn’t it about the modern omnipresent mass media?
‘When I opened my eyes, I saw the Aleph.’ ‘The Aleph?’ ‘Yes, the only place on earth where all places are – seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending.’

As The Aleph is a locus of the entire world, so the stories by Jorge Luis Borges are the epitome of the entir
Bill Kerwin
May 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing

This is a masterful collection by a writer of genius. I believe The Aleph is just as good as Fictions," and Fictions is as good as any book of short pieces produced in the 20th Century. If you like paradoxes, puzzles, doppelgangers and labyrinths used as metaphors for the relation of microcosm to macrocosm and the fluid nature of personal identity, then this is the book for you.

These stories are profound, but they are written in such an entertaining traditional narrative style that they might o
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spanish-american
Down and Out in Lovecraft and Borges

At some point (but not today) I intend to do a review of Borges and Lovecraft together. Not to say anything important but merely to understand how they depend on one another. I think it is clear that Borges borrowed from Lovecraft. And I think it is just as clear that we read Lovecraft in light of what Borges did with the genre of fantasy/horror.

At least a half dozen stories have been identified by readers as ‘cross-overs’ as it were from Lovecraft to Borges.
The 'Aleph' is a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brightness which lives under the ninth stair of a dark basement in Buenos Aires. The basement is in the house of would-be poet, Carlos Argentino Danieri, whose life's work is a never-to-be-completed poem, inspired by the images he claims to see in the iridescent sphere, and which becomes an impossibly detailed geography of the world as revealed to him by his many sessions lying on the basement floor gazing up at the Aleph.

The story o
It is always a pleasure for me to read Borges. So I read with delight each of the short stories in this collection.
Borges, always faithful to his style and magic, transports his reader to extraordinary places to discover fabulous things and stories. He doesn't tell. Borges builds labyrinths.
From the new metaphysics (if you will) to the new detective, to the philosophical but mythological tale, we lose ourselves to find ourselves more intelligent, as Claude Mauriac said.
For Borges, who has always
The Artisan Geek
Hardest book I have ever read, but I appreciate it a lot!

Yessss! Pulling up with my squad on this one! Reading this with my diverse classics book club coming month :)

You can find me on
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Anything can drive a person insane if that person cannot manage to put it out of their mind” – even… “a map of Hungary”! Obsession is the unifying theme of virtually all these stories, which is apt, because I’m beginning to be a trifle obsessed myself. It is perhaps most central to The Zahir.

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 fourth, pu
Borges's book had the gift of revealing an idea to me, which, after all, I already had, somewhere in the corners of my mind.
Literature repeats endlessly the same few themes, the only thing that changes is the time of writing and reading. The main themes used by Homer are found in contemporary works too. Though, the perspective is different. Borges is fascinated by this idea of the text that is written endlessly, that only by getting lost in this re-reading of the text - will we come to understa
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stevenson, Wells, Twain, Verne, the Arabian Nights, were some of the references for Borges very early on, back in Argentina. At his father’s library he read a lot. Then he went to Europe...

Borges: “American, old and a blind poet “ he realized once, later in life. Afterwards he had to live up to it and face old age as a “time of happiness”; the “animal being dead…man and soul go on”.

Borges “a shy man who longed for oblivion” (“siempre tímido”, as he said of himself). But not shy stories
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You're avoiding a single star, Borges, simply because I try my best not to dish them out. There's little value in reading if one is going to try consider ways to dislike doing it. I love your ideas, but not your executions. Reading through the contents list, I can easily choose five or six stories whose very conception alone excite me(The Immortal, The Zahir, The Writing of The God, The House of Asterion), but you continually bashed me over the head with names, places, dates, literary and histor ...more
I know why I didn't write a review. I wrote several reviews about Borges' books and I got tired of saying how amazing this writer was. Is. Will always be. This is one of the greatest short stories collections I've ever read. There are ordinary situations combined with magical events, sometimes very subtle, sometimes not. But it's there. And they're all beautifully written. Stories like "El Inmortal", "Emma Zunz", "La casa de Asterión" or "Los teólogos" are outstanding pieces of literary work tha ...more
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Borges my brain usually feels fried, so excuse all the nonsense in this review. My intention was never to write anything about it, to let it flow, to carry on with my life. But trust me, after reading this magnificent writer, and specially such writings as the ones collected in El Aleph, life's never the same. My brain may be fried, but my soul feels somewhat soothed.

Reading him is like facing the Zahir: something that seeds in one's soul a never-ending obsession in life's groundle
Katia N
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read Borges in my early twenties, I liked it, but was not totally overwhelmed. So this time around I did not know what to expect. And this time around I am totally in awe to his genius. I would finish the story and go back to the beginning to read it again. This collection was written later that The Fictions. And it is better to read them in the order they’ve written. “Fictions” creates the universe. And makes you to look at it with the new eyes. This is darker, more diverse and more ground ...more
Roy Lotz
This is the second Borges book that I have read (though the first in Spanish), and I have found that my reaction was an echo of the first. With Borges, I have the constant sensation that the writing is superlative and the style very much to my taste; yet somehow I often manage to be uninspired. The typical Borgesian themes—the collapse of personal identity, the sense of a mysterious connection, the obsession with a sort of occult understanding of a higher reality—make me uneasy, and at times str ...more
I’m starting to wonder if books I read this year should be rated on a curve: I’m not sure that I would feel the same way I do about some of them if I was reading them under “normal” circumstances vs. reading them in lockdown and hearing upsetting news every other day…

I was very much looking forward to sinking my teeth into Mr. Borges collection of short stories “The Aleph”; I knew the prose was beautiful, and that his interest in subject matters such as time, death, mazes, occultism and surreali
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What is there to say about Jorge Luis Borges that hasn't been said before?

Not much. Borges is a wonderful story-teller. His world is one of mysticism and magic, and paradoxically, of raw realism. It's a world of serious philosophical thoughts and of detective plots. The Aleph is a window for everything that the world contains; perhaps that is the perfect description of Borges's stories.

I must admit, however, that some of the stories didn't awe me that much. I infinitely prefer when Borges write
Feb 04, 2015 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
This is the 2nd time I try to read these stories. This time I tried in Spanish (very bad idea- too difficult for my level) and then came back to the Romanian translation.

I liked the ideas (such as for the Immortals) but the author continually put references of different names, places, dates, literary and historical citations that in my opinion made the story unpleasant to read. I understand the author is very well read and he drew inspiration from all the book he cites (Iliad, Hamlet, etc) but
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What is divine, terrible, and
incomprehensible is to know oneself immortal.

Borges has always been there for me. That strange name I encountered a lifetime ago in a book about nihilism. The marvel of those stories, that surfeit of wisdom. The different configurations and yet I return to these stories like the coins and mirrors in the tales themselves. The infinite pairings: barbarians and those that go native. The theologians and the cyclical. The gauchos and the poets. It is the sly tales of reve
Ian "Marvin" Graye
The Last Words of Christ the Lord

A friend of my ex-wife’s (it’s not necessary that you know his name or hers), though at the time of his death a committed atheist, was awarded a Doctor of Sacred Theology by an American University after the publication of his biography of the late Pope, which was generally well received, even in Roman Catholic circles.

He was a great frequenter of antiquarian bookshops in Rome, at one of which he encountered and purchased for his future studies a collection of bo
Mark André
Jul 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
Interesting. Imaginative. Readable. Definitely out of the common groove. I like this guy.
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I remember reading Ficciones earlier this year. The feelings it inspired in me were marvelous, and I felt the little grooves and folds and wrinkles of my brain expanding leaf by leaf. I went into this volume (containing The Aleph and The Maker) expecting a similar feeling, and I… kind of got it? If you think about it, in a way, it’s very Borgesian. I glanced at infinite wisdom and reality for a moment and continue to chase that high forever – knowing that I may never see it again as long as I li ...more
Debbie Zapata
This was my first attempt with Jorge Luis Borges. I had heard of him for years, but never managed to actually read him.

As with any short story collection, there were some I liked, others I was indifferent about, and others I could not get interested in at all. There was a wide variety of stories here, not all were the 'magical realism' style that Borges is so famous for, although the title story El Aleph is supposed to be his masterpiece of that genre (according to the back cover of my edition)
Mar 31, 2022 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 20th-century

Reading Borges is such an exhausting experience—the dry, pseudo-scholarly tone, the literary and historical allusions, the constant flipping back and forth between the text and the endnotes. A story of a couple of pages takes on the density of an entire novella. In Ficciones, his most celebrated collection, this is far outweighed by the highly complex, abstract stories that read as though they were dreamed by a distant god. It’s for these glimpses into the infinite that I read Borges
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Want a great description of what it's like to look at the World Wide Web through a browser for the first time? Read the long beautiful paragraph in which Borges describes his first look into the Aleph.

I keep coming back to these stories and those in Labyrinths. Borges captures so much, so quickly.
Renée Paule
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heavy going in places, but lovely short stories just the same.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I found this book on a shelf at a library two days ago. The name of the author sounded familiar, but I did not know from where. I picked it up and opened it on a random page, which happened to be the first page of the short story "The House of Asterión".

It was one of the most stunning things I had ever read. Needless to say, I brought The Aleph home with me that day.

Since then I've been reading. It would be a lie to say I understood everything, that I caught every reference. Maybe that even ad
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I'll just quote Umberto Eco (one of my favorite authors and the writer of one of my favorite books, "The Name of the Rose"): "Though so different in style, two writers have offered us an image for the next millennium: Joyce and Borges. The first designed with words what the second designed with ideas: the original, the one and only, World Wide Web. The Real Thing. The rest will remain simply virtual."
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

In its beginning and in its end are thoughts of a woman. Then there is a sudden, plaintive cry in the middle about her with the author identifying himself.

The beginning:

"On the incandescent February morning Beatriz Viterbo died, after a death agony so imperious it did not for a moment descend into sentimentalism or fear, I noticed that the iron billboards in the Plaza Constitucion bore new advertisements for some brand or other of Virginia tobacco; I was saddened by this fact, for it made me rea
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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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