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Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

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Here is a handsome edition of one of Borges' "ficciones," in a translation first published in Labyrinths in 1962. It's an important story in the Borges' canon, incorporating most of the author's philosophical and esthetic preoccupations in a typically brief compass. With great solemnity and a convincing array of scholarly detail (including annotated references to imaginary books and articles), Borges concocts a fable of an alternate world and its infiltration of our own. The reality of Tlön is idealist: material objects have no existence; language has no nouns; its principal discipline is psychology, since its inhabitants see the universe as nothing but a series of mental processes. A series of 24 illustrations accompanies the text. Their disturbing resemblances to our reality make them appropriate reflections of Borges's imaginative constructs.'
The Kingston Whig-Standard

78 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1940

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About the author

Jorge Luis Borges

1,802 books12k followers
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 worked as a librarian and public lecturer. Borges was fluent in several languages. He was a target of political persecution during the Peron regime, and supported the military juntas that overthrew it.

Due to a hereditary condition, Borges became blind in his late fifties. In 1955, he was appointed director of the National Public Library (Biblioteca Nacional) and professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1961, he came to international attention when he received the first International Publishers' Prize Prix Formentor. His work was translated and published widely in the United States and in Europe. He died in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986.

J. M. Coetzee said of Borges: "He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 135 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,380 reviews12k followers
February 15, 2023

Here are my top ten reasons you will enjoy this most inventive and ingenious tale:

1. Fabulist gone wild: This Jorge Luis Borges tale, especially the first few pages, reads like a cross between Philip K. Dick and a bibliophile on acid. There are enough references, many real, many fabricated, to keep a team of researchers burning the midnight oil. My advice: Have fun reading. I sense an author with initials JLB playing literary, metaphysical and many other types of games with his tongue deep in his cheek.

2. Mysterious Narrator: “From the remote depths of the corridor, the mirror spied upon us. We discovered (such a discovery is inevitable in the late hours of the night) that mirrors have something monstrous about them.” Mirrors are monstrous? Inevitable at night, really? Have to admit I’ve never myself had such a thought. The story is told in first person but are we entirely sure who is doing the telling?

3. Strange Uqbar: Those ancient orthodox believers from Uqbar exiled to a nearby island owned obelisks and lived in a way, as archeologists discovered “where it is not uncommon to unearth stone mirrors.” Stone mirrors? How exactly does a stone mirror work? Perhaps a mirror in a stone frame? Well, the narrator admits the document he and Bioy Casares are reading are less than clear, “Reading it over again, we discovered beneath its rigorous prose a fundamental vagueness.” Sound vaguely familiar? Like this fourteen page short story we have in our hands, perhaps?

4. Stranger Tlön: We learn Tlön isn’t a chaos or an irresponsible license of the imagination but it has its own set laws, at least provisionally. Provisionally? So, in a real sense, the license of the imagination rules out. This being the case, I’d love to travel there sometime.

5. Mind Games: For the inhabitants of Tlön, the world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; rather, it’s a series of independent acts. Wow! How cool is that? Whatever you are looking at, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling – it is all in the mind.

6. Mooning: There are serious language games and tricks going down in Tlön and the inhabitants are entirely serious. For example, when you point to the moon, you don’t see the moon or say the word ‘moon’; you are mooning.

7. The Right Word: On Tlön, there are poems made up of one enormous word. Now that’s poetry I could get into. Does anybody have one long word poem they would care to share?

8. Timeless: On Tlön, they do not perceive the spacial exists in time. Everything is seen as merely an association of ideas. I love it – a world without watches. Sounds like the inhabitants of Tlön take their leisure seriously, since without time and watches, it would be rather difficult to adhere to a work schedule.

9. Touchy-Feely: The geometry of Tlön is made up of two different disciplines – the visual and the tactile. I always wanted to know what all those triangles and circles and lines and points felt like.

10. The Unsaid: All the many subtle references to various theories and ideas. For example, one text states that “Mirrors and fatherhood are abominable because they multiply and disseminate that universe.” This written statement compared to what the narrator says Bioy Casares remembers the text saying – “mirrors and copulation are abominable because they increase the number of men.” Sounds like the narrator might be noting a Freudian slip made by his friend.

Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,048 followers
June 28, 2016
At work, I have a book called "Building the Uqbar Dinghy." It had never occurred to me, although I was aware of this Borges story's existence, that before the publication of this boatbuilding book, there was no such thing as an Uqbar dinghy. Now there is - presumably. Of course, that's exactly what the author was getting at when he titled the book (Borges is credited).

"Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is a wonderful musing on the relationships between ideas, the written word, and reality. The narrator tells the reader of discovering a seemingly unique article slipped into a single copy of an encyclopedia, detailing (but vaguely) the profile of a country called Uqbar. As it turns out, Uqbar may not exist (or, may not have existed?) in our world, but may exist in a parallel world called Tlön. Tlön may be wholly the invention of a secret group of intellectuals who have conspired to create a hidden imaginary history - but their fabulist inventions seem to be sneakily creeping their way into our existence.

The story is aesthetically appealing to any lover of fantasy worlds - and any bibliophile. It's delightfully multi-layered, with truth and fiction inextricably tangled. And it's beautifully written.

Read due to its nomination for the 1941 Retro-Hugos. This one gets my vote.
Profile Image for فايز غازي Fayez Ghazi .
Author 2 books3,927 followers
April 3, 2023
- قصة قصيرة يفترض فيها بورخيس وجود عالم موازٍ او عالم وهمي او مفترض او مخترع اسمه "إطلون"، يمتلك هذا العالم العديد من التفاصيل المثالية التي تشكل عالم الأفكار، كما انه يتقاطع مع العالم الحقيقي بتزويرات تاريخية قام بها البعض وعلى عدة اجيال، ويوضع هذا "التاريخ المتخيل والموضوع" في الأنسكلوبيديا الأشهر (الأنجلو امريكية - نسخة مضروبة).

- ذكرتني هذه القصة بإحدى "الثقافات" التي زوّرت التاريخ الفعلي ودأبت (وما تزال) على محاولات عديدة لإكتشاف تراث ما او آثار ما مفترضة، بل تعدتها الى خلق هذه الآثار (اعادة تصنيع وسرقة لآثار مجاورة) وطمرها للمطالبة بوعد مزعوم من اله مفترض في عصر ما!!
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,184 followers
September 9, 2015
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 the longest story in The Garden of Forking Paths, and deservedly so, published in 1941.

This is very post-modern, meta, or whatever such term you like, with references to Spinoza and Russell. It’s a first-person narration, mentioning real people, telling of a presumably fictitious group of people who plant clues about an imaginary world in authoritative sources (Orbis Tertius being a more comprehensive work in progress). Nowadays, con-langers or believers in Sherlock Holmes might do the same sort of thing on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the internet. Alternatively, conspiracy theorists would latch on to every snippet and claim the almost total lack of further evidence was proof of a sinister cover-up by malign and powerful forces.

“Mirrors and copulation are abominable, for they multiply the number of mankind.” This is paraphrased in "Hakim, The Masked Dyer of Merv", which is in the previous volume, A Universal History of Iniquity, and is the starting point here. It’s allegedly a saying from Uqbar, but investigation finds no mention of such a place – except in one (and only one) copy of an encyclopaedia, which has several pages about its geography, climate, culture and language. The fact (I use the word advisedly) they have “stone mirrors” and a “literature of fantasy” is pertinent.

“Tlon may well be a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth forged by men, a labyrinth destined to be deciphered by men.”

Furthermore, the idea and language of Tlon has infiltrated the real world (or rather, the real world within this piece of fiction penned by Borges), so what is real now? “A fictitious past has supplanted in men’s memories that other past, of which we now know nothing certain.” Is life imitating art, and Earth becoming Tlon?

The final challenge to reality is the “postscript” dated 1947, several years AFTER it was first published.

The much later story, Brodie’s Report, in the collection of the same name, has a similar idea: a mysterious document, describing strange people, found in a book: Brodie’s Report

Time and Language

This fascinating aspect has since been echoed by many, including perhaps Alan Lightman in Einstein’s Dreams.

Tlon is a planet in Uqbar’s mythology: “the world is successive, temporal, but not spatial” and about actions, not objects, so their language is based on verbs, not nouns (examples are given). In this fictional world, in some sense, things are not directly expressible – maybe fictional, even?

Some “deny the existence of time… the present is undefined and indefinite, the future has no reality except as present hope, and the past has no reality except as present recollection” (or even false memories of the past).

Even the maths is different; “the act of counting can modify the amount, turning indefinites into definites”, and they have two types of geometry, “tactile geometry” (like ours) and the more important “visual geometry”, which “is based on the surface, not the point; it has no parallel lines… as one’s body moves through space, it modifies the shapes that surround it”.

These philosophical beliefs mean “their fiction has but a single plot, with every imaginable permutation”.
Profile Image for Talieh.
28 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2015
بهترین داستان کوتاهی که تا حالا خوندم...

توانایی خلق یک دنیا، چیزیه که فقط تو نویسنده ها وجود داره. اونم نه توی همشون، نود درصد نویسنده هایی که برای خلق یک دنیای کاملا جدید تلاش می کنن با شکست روبرو میشن. اما این داستان... این دنیا... بیشتر از یه رمان هزار صفحه ای حرف توش هست. داستانی که نویسنده برای تک تک کلماتش باید ساعت ها فکر کرده باشه. و با توجه به آگنوسیست بودن بورخس، حتی نمیتونیم مطمئن باشیم که این دنیا واقعا وجود نداره! کما این که خود بورخس هم مطمئن نبوده قطعا.

کم تر داستان کوتاهی رو دیدم (یا بهتره بگم اصلا داستان کوتاهی رو ندیدم) که بتونه اینطوری با مغز و تخیل آدما بازی کنه و اینجوری آدما رو تکون بده. در عرض پنج هزار و خورده ای کلمه، نویسنده یه تاریخ خیلی خلاصه شده از تقریبا همه چیز و همه ی عروض جغرافیایی به دست می ده! دید بی نهایت وسیع بورخس، باعث می شه دنیای خواننده هم به اندازه ی دنیای خودش گسترده بشه. انگار همونطور که توی خود داستان گفته شده، جریان سیال ذهن نویسنده زمین و زمان رو به هم دوخته. انگار پای حرف های یه بیمار اسکیزوفرنیک نشستیم که رودخانه ی افکارش، دیگه با موتور منطق کار نمی کنه و تمام و کمال تبدیل به شهود شده.

به نظر من، این داستان خیلی بیشتر از کارهای جیمز جویس و فاکنر و ویرجینیا ولف، لایق عنوان جریان سیال ذهن هستش...

این داستان انقدر غنیه که ما با یکی دو بار خوندن ممکنه اونقدری که باید متوجه غناش نشیم. یه نمونه ی کوچیکش اینه که تو همین داستان، نویسنده خیلی ساده دو تا سیستم کاملا متفاوت برای زبان ارائه میده. چیزی که شاید حتی به چشم ما نیاد ولی این به خودی خود نشانه ی نبوغ بی حد و مرز نویسنده ست! این دو تا زبون، اگه دنبالشون کنیم، امکانات بی نهایت گسترده ای رو میتونن جلوی پای ما بذارن. امکاناتی که توی هیچ کدوم از زبونای هندواروپایی وجود نداره. نویسنده خیلی راحت این دو زبان رو معرفی می کنه و رد میشه. میشه گفت یه جورایی تواضع به خرج میده. ولی ما نباید انقدر ساده از کنار همچین نبوغ و همچین ابداعی رد بشیم... این داستان کوتاه پتانسیل اینو داره که یک سال تمام، روش فکر بشه...
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,495 reviews378 followers
August 8, 2015
How do you not love a story which states that "any book not containing its counterbook is incomplete" or describes a reality that recedes-and "longs to" recede" from reality?

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges is a story that baffled, frustrated, intrigued, and ultimately enchanted me. The discovery of an imaginary world whose language consists of verbs and in which there is no past or future excites the imagination. The dry tone in which the fantastic ideas are elaborated lend humor to this fantasy which examines many of the premises which we consider "natural" or, rather, act upon as real without examining. Borges references to Burke, Berkeley, and Schopenhauer connect the story to its philosophical pinning which it uses as a platform from which to take off.

I am reviewing Borges stories individually because they are each as rich as an entire novel (and take far longer to read and reread than their length would imply).
Profile Image for Chris.
765 reviews100 followers
April 9, 2023
The metaphysicians of Tlön do not seek for the truth or even for verisimilitude, but rather for the astounding. They judge that metaphysics is a branch of fantastic literature.

As reportedly the longest of Borges’ short stories, ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ is also one of his more philosophical and, indeed, fantastic. It describes the discovery of a previously unrecorded country called Uqbar, then its curious relationship to a place called Tlön and, further, the existence of something called Orbis Tertius.

In discussing the thinking of the Tlön metaphysicians Borges seems to be partly reiterating his own mode of thinking: philosophy is astounding, is fantastic, but he does it in a way which reflects his wonder, his reading, his imagination and his playfulness.

And I use the word ‘reflect’ quite deliberately because the author not only introduces the idea of a mirror at the very start but also aims, in the words of Hamlet, “to hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature” – the way we view our own world.

‘Tlön’ begins like a literary mystery redolent of, say, a ghost story by M R James which often opens with a scholar in a library: here a casual conversation between the narrator and a friend leads to an obscure volume of an encyclopaedia which asserts that “Mirrors and fatherhood are abominable”; but it happens to mention an equally obscure country called Uqbar. Situated somewhere in the region of Asia Minor, Uqbar boasts a national literature which is “one of fantasy”, a corpus which includes the invention of the imaginary world of Tlön.

The second section of the story hinges on the discovery of a tome, which discovery testified to the existence of a unique multi-volume 'Encyclopaedia of Tlön'. Inter alia Volume XI (HLAER – JANGR) focused on the peculiarities of Tlön’s languages: in the southern hemisphere the language contains no nouns but only impersonal verbs, their suffixes and prefixes acting as adverbs; in the north the unit is a monosyllabic adjective which acts as a metaphor.

It’s also revealed that the prevalent philosophy of Tlön is said to be a form of monism – that is, it is a subjective idealism that presumes the only reality is what one might personally perceive it to be. This philosophy may be illustrated by the way its inhabitants deny the reality of time, and therefore history. It proposes that (a) the present is indefinite; (b) the future has no reality other than as “a present hope”; (c) the past has no reality than as “a present memory”. The sense, I suppose, is of the perceiver being a rock in the midst of a boundless sea, or an astronomical body adrift in the infinity of space.

So much for Uqbar and Tlön; what of Orbis Tertius? In this short story published in 1940 is what represents for us a chronological impossibility, a Postscript dated 1947. In this, what is effectively a third part, we learn of the existence not only of a complete set of the 'Encyclopaedia of Tlön' but also of a body or group which can translate as the Third Sphere or the Third World.

And this brings us back to mirrors and paternity because the concept of Orbis Tertius seems designed not just to reflect our own world but, in some sense, to generate our perception of it. I am reminded of the description of Earth as the Third Rock from the Sun, following on from Mercury and Venus; and knowing that the god Mercury was the divinity of words, of communication, and Venus the goddess not just of erotic love but of adoration, of veneration, I see planets, divinities, and the tripartite structure of Borges’ story as all analogous to the invention of Uqbar, Tlön and Orbis Tertius.

We, inhabitants of planet Earth, living in our individual continuous presents, are effectively and also simultaneously inhabitants of Tlön, which has mysteriously become Earth. “Tlön,” Borges divines, “is surely a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth devised by men, a labyrinth destined to be deciphered by men.” We, both earthlings and Tlön-ites, wandering in the continuous present of our maze, can only hope to eventually arrive at some sort of destination where all will be revealed, where all will make sense, where we may all understand the universal language lost after Babel.

Impossible as it is to effectively summarise this very Borgesian piece, I shall merely conclude by emphasising what a tour de force this long short story is. Beginning with a conversation between two persons, the narrative gradually broadens out to encompass the whole world; its exact analogue is the set of mirrors Borges posits at the start of his discussion, mirrors which, placed opposite each other produce a near infinite number of images, inducing in the observer a discordant sense of what is real and what isn’t.

But that Borges essentially enjoyed writing this piece is made clear by his final comment – that he will continue revising “an uncertain Quevedian translation (which I do not intend to publish) of Browne’s Urn Burial". To say he intends rendering Sir Thomas Browne’s meditation on graves and death in the style of Browne’s Baroque contemporary, the Spanish poet, wit and master of conceptismo Francisco de Quevedo, suggests we should take nothing of what Borges says at face value; for conceptismo is the employment of elaborate conceits, mannered metaphors and verbal paradoxes, all designed to dazzle and delight the audience.
Profile Image for Erik Erickson.
147 reviews7 followers
July 24, 2011
Wow. This is so short but packed so densely with allegory and competing philosophic ideas. Borges masterfully mixes reality and fiction into rich layers. I'd strongly recommend visiting Wikipedia's entry after your first read.
Profile Image for Mateo R..
892 reviews114 followers
July 27, 2019

Menciones directas:
* Encyclopædia Britannica, de Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
* Die Erdkunde im Verhältnis zur Natur und Geschichte des Menschen, de Carl Ritter.
* The Analysis of Mind, de Bertrand Russell.
* Aporías, de Zenón de Elea.
* Parerga und Paralipomena, de Arthur Schopenhauer.
* Philosophie des Als Ob, de Hans Vaihinger.
* Dào Dé Jing, de Laozi.
* Las mil y una noches, anónimo.
* Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial, or, a Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Norfolk, de Thomas Browne.
* Mención a los escritores Adolfo Bioy Casares, Johannes Valentinus Andreae, Néstor Ibarra, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Alfonso Reyes Ochoa, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, David Hume, George Berkeley, Xul Solar, Baruch Spinoza, William Shakespeare, Charles Howard Hinton, George Dalgarno, Francisco de Quevedo.

Profile Image for Soorya.
149 reviews8 followers
February 22, 2017
Dense and disorienting. Borges is ambitious and very confident - you'd need to be to attempt something like this. (But perhaps a bit too confident at times; some parts sound glib). Large parts of it read like a thought experiment - a very peculiar one to say the least - and it quite frustrated me in places. But it's strangely very intoxicating.

I certainly wasn't expecting anything like this in the Retro Hugo short story ballot. It really stands out from the other finalists.

Profile Image for Farrah.
353 reviews
June 28, 2017
A fictional planet designed by Borges? Yes, please. Borges is the ultimate example of an author's ability to spiral fiction and reality. I guess that's why it's called a Borgesian literary device, imparting a feeling of reality to the fictional and the unreal to the real.

I loved all the details in this, and the attention to language, memories, time, and emotions...they're all different in this made up world of Tlon. But so real.
Profile Image for Andrei Vasilachi.
81 reviews79 followers
August 30, 2023

3.5 / 5

A cryptic short story in which Borges imagines a mysterious and fictional planet with different nations in which “Their language, with its derivatives—religion, literature, and metaphysics—presupposes idealism. For them, the world is not a concurrence of objects in space, but a heterogeneous series of independent acts. There are no nouns in the hypothetical Ursprache of Tlön, which is the source of the living language and the dialects; there are impersonal verbs qualified by monosyllabic suffixes or prefixes which have the force of adverbs. For example, there is no word corresponding to the noun moon, but there is a verb to moon or to moondle.” (p. 23)

It is a bizzare idea, but it is surprisingly well-developed — even if the story is short, Borges describes Tlön with enough detail for the reader to imagine a culture of beings that are truly alien to us and our way of living, yet have their own set of rules they follow. Also, the Wikipedia page on this story made a fascinating point on the fact that Western philosophy wouldn’t be possible without nouns:

“In a world where there are no nouns—or where nouns are composites of other parts of speech, created and discarded according to a whim—and no things, most of Western philosophy becomes impossible.” (Wikipedia)

So in a way Borges seems to be trolling us, mortals. What a mad lad, huh.

The planet of Tlön, albeit having different nations, is a monoculture, an extremely-idealistic one, in which its people “conceive of the Universe as a series of mental proccesses whose unfolding is to be understood only as a time sequence.”(p. 24). Or in other words, they view psychology as the main scientific discipline, and all the others are subordinate to it:

“To put it another way—they do not conceive of the spatial as everlasting in time. The perception of a cloud of smoke on the horizon and, later, of the countryside on fire and, later, of a half-extinguished cigar which caused the conflagration would be considered an example of the association of ideas. This monism, or extreme idealism, completely invalidates science. To explain or to judge an event is to identify or unite it with another one. In Tlön, such connection is a later stage in the mind of the observer, which can in no way affect or illuminate the earlier stage. Each state of mind is irreducible. The mere act of giving it a name, that is of classifying it, implies a falsification of it.” (pp. 24-25)

In a way, it may be implied that it is a culture where silence has real value? I’m not sure, but it’s intriguing. On that planet silence is good in itself, you don’t need to name and classify everything, and in trying to name it you may loose its essence. Now that I think of it, it seems very Oriental, something to do with Taoism, maybe?

“The metaphysicians of Tlön are not looking for truth, nor even for an approximation of it; they are after a kind of amazement.” (p. 25)

Also, this monotheism reflects on the way they deal with book authors and other artists, they have a world where the concept of plagiarism doesn’t exist because “all authors are one” — this one is probably the hardest to imagine, and seems especially strange:

“In literary matters too, the dominant notion is that everything is the work of one single author. Books are rarely signed. The concept of plagiarism does not exist; it has been established that all books are the work of one single writer, who is timeless and anonymous. […] A book which does not include its opposite, or “counter-book,” is considered incomplete.” (p. 28).

It seems to suggest a collective consciousness to which everyone contributes in his or her own way. Is this collective consciousness God? Is it a despotic tyranny? something else? Is it gibberish? Is it satire of Orientalism or of pseudo-psychology? Maybe. Maybe not. Borges lets you decide, he’s clearly not one to give you spoon-fed conclusions.

I particularly like his idea of a “hrönir” – a duplicate of something that maybe have been made from duplicates themselves and so on. They way in which Borges describes it seems to imply that he’s satirizing the notion of “original creations” in our human culture — we all plagiarize from someone who plagiarized from someone else (ad infinitum), it’s inevitable. But at the same time, it may be interpreted as a compliment for our ingenuity — plagiarism and storing information allowed us to build civilizations which surpassed a single consciousness —in a way, our libraries, sciences, discoveries, languages are all a work of a “collective consciousness” copying, making new breakthroughs, and passing over information. This idealistic planet of Tlön is not completely imaginary after all, as it has similarities with our own:

“One curious fact: the hrönir of the second and third degree—that is, the hrönir derived from another hrön, and the hrönir derived from the hrön of a hrön—exaggerate the flaws of the original; those of the fifth degree are almost uniform; those of the ninth can be confused with those of the second; and those of the eleventh degree have a purity of form which the originals do not possess. The process is a recurrent one; a hrön of the twelfth degree begins to deteriorate in quality. Stranger and more perfect than any hrön is sometimes the ur, which is a thing produced by suggestion, an object brought into being by hope. Things duplicate themselves in Tlön. They tend at the same time to efface themselves, to lose their detail when people forget them. The classic example is that of a stone threshold which lasted as long as it was visited by a beggar, and which faded from sight on his death. Occasionally, a few birds, a horse perhaps, have saved the ruins of an amphitheater.” (p. 30)

And yet here I am wondering … if what I said thus far is completely wrong, and if Borges wrote this convoluted little story just to laugh at us poor readers; and If he did, I wouldn’t be too upset as it’s a masterful troll.
Profile Image for Cami | Genliteratura.
86 reviews38 followers
May 14, 2020
Toda persona que ama los libros y que disfruta lectura sobre el tiempo y el espacio debería leer este cuento. Urgente
Profile Image for Andrea AKA Catsos Person.
792 reviews103 followers
February 12, 2017
Bingo N1: South American Classic

*My reaction to the experience of reading this story:

This story is a front runner for " the worst thing I've read in 2017!"

Though I needed to read something to fulfill the "So American" classic square of bingo, after reading that Latin writers use "magical realism" in their writing, I was very reluctant to spend any money on one of these titles, and thank Geezus I didn't!

This book is completely inaccessible to me. This author,Jorge Luis Borges , is probably lauded by critics and by people with advanced degrees in South American Literature. I'm am neither.

I don't know any more of what I just read than if I tried to read something written in Mandarin characters.

I found the book Ficciones, a collection of stories from this author at the library via Hoopla. This story was published in that collection.

Notes to Self or Glaring Examples of Weirdness or just "straight up" weird/crazy shit!

The first sentence of the story page 1:

"I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia."

More weirdness from From page 2:

"From the far end of the corridor, the mirror was watching us; and we discovered, with the inevitability of discoveries made late at night, that mirrors have something grotesque about them. "

Even more weirdnessFrom page 2-3:

"Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had stated that mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of man."

Weirdness again From page 5:

“Copulation and mirrors are abominable.” The text of the encyclopedia read: “For one of those gnostics, the visible universe was an illusion or, more precisely, a sophism. Mirrors and fatherhood are abominable because they multiply it and extend it.”

Weird Vocabulary:
Profile Image for Lien.
26 reviews
March 30, 2014
This is a very nice read/ thinking excercise. It makes you think about what you say, and why you say it; the meaning of words, that (what one would call 'meaning') which an individual attributes to them and that which society attributes to them, as well as the correlation between the two.

The story seems to be written from the viewpoint of an outsider looking in, perhaps an auctorial narrator with a degree in anthropology, sociology and linguistics. It is philosophical, and quite heavy at that, but worth every letter nonetheless. Needless to say I enjoyed reading it, and I re-read it from time to time. Everytime new insights seem to be highlighted...

In conclusion: not only worth the read, but definitely worth the re-read (and re-re-re...-read) as well!
Profile Image for Denz.
38 reviews18 followers
November 12, 2015
В предполагаемия Ursprache на Тльон, от който са произлезли „днешните“ езици и диалектите, няма съществителни: има безлични глаголи, пояснявани от едносрични наставки (или представки) с адвербално значение. Например няма дума, съответстваща на думата „луна“, но има глагол, който може да се преведе като „лунва се“ или „залунява“. „Луната изгря над реката“ се казва „Хльор у фанг аксаксаксас мльо“ или буквално: „Нагоре зад постоянно-тече-то залуня“. (Ксул-Солар го превежда по-сбито: „Горе зад всетеча лунна“. Upward, behind the onstreaming, mooned.)
Гореказаното се отнася за езиците от южното полукълбо. В езиците от северното полукълбо (за чийто Ursprache в Единайсетия том има съвсем оскъдни сведения) първична клетка е не глаголът, а прилагателното. Съществителното се образува чрез свързване на прилагателни. Не се казва „луна“, а „въздушно-светло на тъмно-кръгло“ или „нежнооранжево на небето“, или каквото и да е друго съчетание. В посочения пример съвкупността от прилагателни съответства на един реален предмет; това обаче е чиста случайност. В литературата на същото полукълбо преобладават идеалните предмети, появяващи се и изчезващи мигновено в зависимост от поетическите нужди. Понякога ги обуславя само тяхната едновременност. Има предмети, които се състоят от два елемента — видим и слухово възприеман: цветът на изгрева и далечният крясък на птица. Има и такива, които се състоят от няколко: слънцето и водата до гърдите на плувец, трептящата бледорозова светлина зад спуснати клепачи, усещането на човек, носен от течението на река или потъващ в сън. Тези предмети от втора степен могат да се съчетават с други и така нататък и този процес е практически безкраен. Има великолепни поеми, които се състоят от една-единствена огромна дума. Тази дума представя създадения от автора поетически предмет. Самият факт, че никой не вярва в реалността на съществителните, парадоксално обуславя тяхната безчисленост. В езиците от северното полукълбо на Тльон се съдържат всички съществителни имена от индоевропейските езици и още много други.

Ursprache - праезик (нем.)
Profile Image for Dubravka.
27 reviews29 followers
July 18, 2013
I haven't read this one. That is to say, I have read it before, but I haven't finished reading it today. Yet. Still, I have this inexplicable urge to say I didn't like it. I'm still not finished, but I DIDN'T like it. And in about half an hour, I'm going to finish it and I'm going to say I didn't like it. No matter how I feel about it, I'm going to say I did't like it.

And I'm wondering...isn't that funny? Isn't it great that I'm allowed to do just that! And isn't it even better that...later...or earlier, I'm allowed to change my mind. Like some frivolous minx. Today I'll like it, tomorrow I won't. Ah, the freedom of making mistakes ^^ Of being wrong. Is there anything greater in this world ? Didn't someone say sth like: I'm ... (whatever), therefore, I err...or sth like that. Anyways, this is fun :)

But, the truth is, I really don't like this one. I'm still not capable of liking it. It's all those phylosophical and logical bs. Maybe I'll never be capable of liking it. I'm not that into phylosophy, for crying out loud! Reading this is a TORTURE! But maybe, just maybe, I will be capable some day. And if that happens, I'm just going to change my mind about it. How great is that?
Profile Image for كيكه الوزير.
252 reviews12 followers
February 22, 2019
Andrew Hurley says that the words axaxaxas mlö "can only be pronounced as the author's cruel, mocking laughter". This is a fabulous short story, I am so delighted that it has introduced me to Borges so properly. Highly recommended for philosophy disciples.
Profile Image for Mako Ghambashidze.
1 review12 followers
May 3, 2016
"მომავალს არავითარი რეალობა არა აქვს,გარდა აწმყოში არსებული იმედის,ხოლო წარსულის ერთადერთი რეალობა აწმყოში გამოყოლილი მოგონებაა"
Profile Image for Julio Oña.
4 reviews
May 11, 2016
The world is changing, in front of your eyes, but you don't know it.
Profile Image for Sohail.
472 reviews11 followers
April 1, 2021
A strange short story with innovative style, suggesting strange (fictional) theories. It reminded me of a lighter, less fantastical version of the Cthulhu mythos.
Profile Image for qwe123.
30 reviews3 followers
February 16, 2019
Speglar och samlag är avskyvärda eftersom de ökar människornas antal.
Profile Image for Facundo Melillo.
198 reviews35 followers
August 2, 2019
Segunda vez que lo leo y sigo sin entender la mitad de las cosas que pasan. Aún así y todo lo considero un cuento increíble. Ya vendrán próximas relecturas.
Profile Image for Nicolás Ortenzi.
251 reviews9 followers
November 22, 2019
Saque dos fragmentos del cuento que me parecieron interesantes:

Los metafísicos de Tlön no buscan la verdad ni siquiera la verosimilitud: buscan el asombro.

Una de las escuelas de Tlön llega a negar el tiempo: razona que el presente es indefinido, que el futuro no tiene realidad sino como esperanza presente, que el pasado no tiene realidad sino como recuerdo presente.

Básicamente este cuento plantea la existencias de un mundo imaginario llamado Tlön, en la cual dentro de sus muchas costumbres. El materialismos es considerado una herejía, y el idealismo se planta de lleno en este mundo; corriente de pensamiento atribuida a Platón, en la cual: el afirmaba que la realidad la construyen las ideas y no las cosas materiales.
Profile Image for Anahisa.
317 reviews8 followers
April 26, 2019
Y’all,,, the flavour,,,

The people of Tlön believe that all men who repeat a line from Shakespeare ARE William Shakespeare. So, in conclusion, I am Shakespeare.
Profile Image for Hriday.
59 reviews42 followers
September 17, 2017
There are stories which you read and leave you feeling shattered emotionally or aesthetically. Such books are a pleasure to read and world literature abounds in such examples.

Then there are works which you read and leave you shattered intellectually. All that you have read, learned and understood seem mere simulacra and pretenses at erudition and scholarship. One feels this all the more so when the author demolishes every established precept you had about the craft of writing in a mere 14 odd pages.

This book with its counter-intuitive grammars, reliance on Berkeleyan idealism and cerebrally playful irreverence made me accept that no matter what I did or tried, or how long I tried, it would be impossible to reach the rarefied heights which some do. I have reread this work at least thirty times, only to be illumined by a new shade of meaning each time.

Borges is perhaps himself the "infinite Leibniz" who creates Tlon the alternate universe where this work is set.

I urge you, if you had to read just 1 story of speculative fiction, choose this one by Borges.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 135 reviews

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