Nathaniel's Reviews > Collected Fictions

Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
Rate this book
Clear rating

M 50x66
's review
Aug 15, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: semifiction

My favorite tidbit about Borges is that he has been written into other authors' stories more than just about any other 20th century author. Neil Gaiman's Destiny and his Garden of Forking Paths, Umberto Eco's mad monk Jorge of Burgos, Zampanò from House of Leaves - and those are just the ones I've come across in my own reading. I'm sure the real Borges (should one miraculously manage to find him distinct from all the "false" Borgeses) would be amused to find that he has become an archetype. But it's his own fault, really - nobody asked him to go blind, or to be a librarian, or to become captivated by labyrinths and books (which are of course the same thing). And above all, nobody asked him to write such profound and haunting stories. But he did, and a flood of blind, literary labyrinth-keepers is only to be expected in his wake.

The stories themselves are, in many cases, hardly stories at all in the usual sense; they might better be described as fictional essays. Many are only lightly governed by plot or character, but carry themselves forward through sheer force of ideas. This isn't to say Borges can't write a first-rate character story ("Emma Zunz," off the top of my head) or draw you into the events of the tale ("The Circular Ruins") when he wants to, but he's obviously more interested in engaging the part of you that flips out about infinities and paradoxes. Borges can be difficult, dry, and pretentious, but nobody turns those qualities into virtues as well as he does.

Collected Fictions is itself several of the objects described within its pages. In particular, I suspect it is the Zahir (an object that once glanced at eventually consumes all thought) and the Encyclopedia of Tlön (a book describing a fictional world that our own world is beginning to tranform into). Perhaps behind the book we shall see God.
20 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Collected Fictions.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/13/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Kaylee Now I need to re-read House of Leaves -- I read it LONG before I knew anything of Borges aside from his "Library of Babble" (as I kept hearing it when my high school teacher would make references). It never occurred to me that Danielewski based Zampanò on him. Brilliant [and thank you].

message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian Robertson And don't forget the pilgrimage by Paul Theroux in The Old Patagonian Express . . . .

Nickolas Cook Without a doubt, one of the most important books I've ever read as a reader and especially as a writer of dark fiction. There are no 'weak' stories in this classic collection of literary stories. Borges does in one book what many writers can never do in an entire career of writing.
One of the most influential books I've ever read.

back to top