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1001 book reviews > Ficcionnes by Jorge Luis Borges

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Dree | 243 comments Somehow I have never read Borges, perhaps because I studied French, Italian, and history in school. And everyone I knew who studied Spanish read him and dreaded it. I actually found this very interesting--but I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a student of Spanish reading the original.

I found these stories to be very interesting. They are also intense and not easy reading. Strange, unpredictable, and uncomfortable. They read more like essays than short stories, but they are very much fiction. How to describe Borges? An original, who I suspect influenced both Calvino and Mieville.

My favorite of the bunch is "The Garden of Forking Paths". I wonder if this story influenced Kate Atkinson in writing Life after Life.

message 2: by Leni (last edited Apr 01, 2019 02:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 411 comments I really enjoyed this strange collection of stories where Borges blends both well known and obscure names from history and philosophy with thinkers of his own making, and where he writes academic essays about books that don't exist. I am sure that I will return to this book to re-read selected pieces in the future. I agree with Dree that he must have influenced Calvino. In fact, if anyone were to write the full stories that Borges pretends already exist, it would almost have to be Calvino.

I rated this 5 stars, rounded up from 4,5.

Kristel (kristelh) | 3829 comments Mod
Read 2013

Ficciones by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges is really a work of a master. The work is a series of short stories by this incredibly intelligent author. These short stories have some common themes including libraries, books, philosophy, God reality and unreality. Borges was gradually growing blind and he also served as a librarian. The author was educated in Europe and while he is Argentinian his stories have various settings and various nationalities. He is truly a international author. The various stories that comprise Ficciones sometimes read as essays, are mixed with many non fictional characters and elements and require careful, slow reading and probably should be read many times to really appreciate the authors genius. I enjoyed some of these stories, some were difficult to read. I gave it 3 stars because I do think the author is great and that these stories represent a mastery and a forerunner of magical realism but it was also hard to read. I especially enjoyed Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius though it was struggle to read. I also enjoyed Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote, The Circular Ruins, The Babylon Lottery, Funes, the Memorious, Death and the Compass and Three Versions of Judas. Wikipedia provides a synopsis of each story and I found this very helpful.

Gail (gailifer) | 1193 comments I read the short story Tlön, Ugbar, Orbis Tertius four times slowly before something clicked and I came to understand it. I can not say that I understand it well or fully but at least I came to find it very fascinating in the way that the author creates characters, and activities that are really about reading and the intersection of reading and world building. Once I got through this first story, the others became somewhat easier reading, although again, I can not say that I fully understood them. I suspect each requires multiple readings.
Borges masterfully brings to his writing all the crisp clarity of specific words combined with a great deal of ambiguity around the meaning of these words when piled up together. He frequently alludes to labyrinths and libraries and many of these libraries are full of an infinite number of books that contain little or no meaningful content or perhaps only one word of meaningful content that is "God". Borges discusses religion, philosophy, literature and the interaction of learned people in such a way that the reader is able to see things anew and feel as if the writing is something more than a short story.
I gave it 4.5 stars also. I am thankful to actually own a physical book so I can go back to it.

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