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Collected Fictions Paperback – 30 Sep 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 565 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Australia (30 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140286802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140286809
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.8 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 306,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Although Jorge Luis Borges published his first book in 1923--doling out his own money for a limited edition of Fervor de Buenos Aires--he remained in Argentinian obscurity for almost three decades. In 1951, however, Ficciones appeared in French, followed soon after by an English translation. This collection, which included the cream of the author's short fictions, made it clear that Borges was a world-class (if highly unclassifiable) artist--a brilliant, lyrical miniaturist, who could pose the great questions of existence on the head of pin. And by 1961, when he shared the French Prix Formentor with Samuel Beckett, he seemed suddenly to tower over a half dozen literary cultures, the very exemplar of modernism with a human face.

By the time of his death in 1986, Borges had been granted old master status by almost everybody (except, alas, the gentlemen of the Swedish Academy). Yet his work remained dispersed among a half dozen different collections, some of them increasingly hard to find. Andrew Hurley has done readers a great service, then, by collecting all the stories in a single, meticulously translated volume. It's a pleasure to be reminded that Borges' style--poetic, dreamlike, and compounded of innumerable small surprises--was already in place by 1935, when he published A Universal History of Iniquity: "The earth we inhabit is an error, an incompetent parody. Mirrors and paternity are abominable because they multiply and affirm it." (Incidentally, the thrifty author later recycled the second of these aphorisms in his classic bit of bookish metaphysics, "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Teris.") The glories of his middle period, of course, have hardly aged a day. "The Garden of the Forking Paths" remains the best deconstruction of the detective story ever written, even in the post-Auster era, and "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" puts the so-called death of the author in pointed, hilarious perspective.

But Hurley's omnibus also brings home exactly how consistent Borges remained in his concerns. Aslate as 1975, in "Avelino Arredondo," he was still asking (and occasionally even answering) the same riddles about time and its human repository, memory: "For the man in prison, or the blind man, time flows downstream as though down a slight decline. As he reached the midpoint of his reclusion, Arredondo more than once achieved that virtually timeless time. In the first patio there was a wellhead, and at the bottom, a cistern where a toad lived; it never occurred to Arredondo that it was the toad's time, bordering on eternity, that he sought." Throughout, Hurley's translation is crisp and assured (although this reader will always have a soft spot for "Funes, the Memorious" rather than "Funes, His Memory.") And thanks to his efforts, Borgesians will find no better--and no more pleasurable--rebuttal of the author's description of himself as "a shy sort of man who could not bring himself to write short stories." --James Marcus, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Borges was born in Buenos Aires in 1899. A poet, critic and short story writer, he received numerous awards for his work including the 1961 International Publisher's Prize (shared with Samuel Beckett). He died in 1986. He has a reasonable claim, with Kafka and Joyce, to be the most influential writer of the 20th Century.

Andrew Hurley is Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. He has translated works by Borges, Padilla and Arenas.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
In 1517, Fray Bartolome de las Casas, feeling great pity for the Indians who grew worn and lean in the drudging infernos of the Antillean gold mines, proposed to Emperor Charles V that Negroes be brought to the isles of the Caribbean, so that they might grow worn and lean in the drudging infernos of the Antillean gold mines. Read the first page
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Sep 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the greatest Spanish language writer of the century, says the fly-leaf. And it is not an exaggeration. But why did anyone let Andrew Hurley loose on this collection? A complete fictions in English was long overdue, but Hurley's translation lets Borges down. His prose style is leaden, and his translations often eccentric or just plain wrong. Borges was influenced by writers such as Burton, Chesterton and Henry James, and transposed their style into Spanish. Hurley, however, has translated Borges into twentieth century American English, which is clearly contrary to both the style and intent of the orignial. This book is well worth buying for the sake of having all the stories in one place and in English, but Norman Thomas di Giovanni's translations of Dr Brodie's Report and the Book of Sands are far superior. If only di G had tackled the Aleph or Ficciones, there would be little need for this amateur-ish effort at all...
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 May 2002
Format: Paperback
As Andrew Hurley's translations of Borges are becoming ubiquitious some criticism of their style is called for. I see I have been (ably) beaten to it, so this can serve as a footnote to the earlier reader review. I can't compare the translations with the original Spanish, so can only observe that for the English reader of English they are spoiled by jarring Americanisms. Perhaps one might argue that American English is appropriate for translating a New World writer, but it is the product of a society very different to Borges's own, and its democratic, colloquial tone often works against his urbanity, fastidiousness, ironic pedantry and self-mocking snobbishness. Like the previous reviewer I have only docked one crown, because Borges is indispensable, whatever the shortcomings of his translators.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Jorge Luis Borges was one of those rare writers who can take even a bizarre, utterly unbelievable idea, and spin it into an exquisite little gem of prose.

And this classic writer was at the peak of his powers when he collected together "Ficciones," whose plain name belies the subtle power and exquisite beauty of Jorges' short stories. Even among Borges' many short stories, few of them can rival this little labyrinth of strange ancient cities, fictional histories, and the eerie depths of the human mind.

"I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia." An odd old saying from the Middle-East leads the narrator to seek out the long-lost heretical histories of a fictional world known as Tlon. Its beliefs, language, and metaphysical eccentricities increasingly fascinate the narrator, until it's almost a surprise to realize that Borges invented all of this.

The stories that follow are no less engrossing -- the recounting of a strange, haunting novel, a man who attempts to LIVE as Don Quixote, a man who tries to dream a new being into existence, a lottery that determines the way the people of Babylon are to live, an examination of a brilliant and underrated author, an exploration of the eternal Library of the universe, and a labyrinthine spy story.

The second round of short stories is a bit less enthralling, merely because it focuses more on "typical" Borges short stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Maskelyne on 1 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
Borges is one of the few authors with the ability to let you know for sure that you are an idiot. You can read most of his stories in the time it takes to make a cup of tea, yet it may take you a lifetime to grasp anything about it.

This particular collection of Borges' fiction does nothing to ease you in gently. While your brain silently contemplates 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius' you find yourself mulling over the reality of this surreal tale. Does this country (later planet) exist? Of course not, but what about the group that dreamt it up? It ends with the conclusion that the lie will become truth. 'The Circular Ruins' also touches this concept of reality. The taciturn man from the South uses his dreams to create another man, his 'son' if you will. As he contemplates the plight of this being, and the horror it will experience when it discovers that it is not real, merely a projection of thought, he attempts to kill himself, only to discover that he too is nothing but another man's dream.

The book contains a number of labyrinthine tales: 'The Garden of the Forking Paths', 'The Shape of the Sword', 'The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero', and 'Death and the Compass'. These stories question identity and time. 'Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote' tells the tale of a man attempting to rewrite Cervantes' novel word for word. His version, albeit identical, is richer because he is Menard, not Cervantes.

Borges is a master of short fiction, he is able in a few pages to create a labyrinth deeper and richer than many authors can produce in a novel 700 pages long.
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