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Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 28 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (28 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141184841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141184845
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Borges anticipated postmodernism (deconstruction and so on) and picked up credit as founding father of Latin American magical realism.--Colin Waters

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.

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I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia. Read the first page
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99 of 102 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 April 2001
Format: Paperback
This must be the best selection of writing by the mind-bending Borges; much of his work reflects his Latin-American background which can make it a little less accessible - and can be slightly heavy going sometimes to a middlebrow like myself, but Borges, bless him, does not waste words. Where some writers will stretch an idea to fill a novel, Borges will condense it. There are more mind-bending ideas in this one book than most writers come up with in a lifetime, and each one will make you see the world in a strange new light. If a story loses you, no great loss... move on to the next one and your perseverance will be rewarded with interest. If you don't read the whole book at least read 'The Lottery in Babylon', which stuns you into questioning your perception of society - 'The Zahir'-which will chill anyone who has ever had a tune stuck in their head - and my personal favourite, 'The Library of Babel', which will strike a chord with anyone who has ever been daunted by the idea of ever hoping to make sense of the universe. The stories I could get my head round were utterly brilliant - I daresay I'll say the same about the rest of them one day.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
Jorge Luis Borges is the personification of one of the most famous rules in the style guide of the magazine The Economist -- 'be succinct'. He never wrote a novel, and his stories are often very short indeed. One critic thinks of them more as plotlines than as finished stories. But what stories! Terse, pared to the bone, free of anything extraneous, yet charged with wry and detached humor, Borges takes us to amazing and often horrific universes in which literary, mathematical, scientific and philosophical riddles are made real. Here are stories exploring the nature of existence and the meaning of infinity, but which still work as powerful narratives. The plainness of the prose (I have only read it in English translation, of course) only throws the emotional impact of Borges' tales into sharper relief. In 'Kafka and his precursors', Borges lampoons the very idea of authorship, yet his own influences are clear. He is as journalistic and rational as his heroes, Wells and Poe, and has a sharp, ironic style every bit as focused as Kafka, but if anything even harder hitting. The themes sound lofty, and they are -- but the execution is much more accessible than one would think, and it often has the beauty of the abbreviated, Japanese poetic form called the Haiku: I think of phrases such as "some birds, a horse, saved the ruins of an amphitheatre". My first copy of Labyrinths was given to me by my father for something to read while I was recuperating from a medical operation. I've read it so often it's fallen to pieces, and I've had to buy a second copy. If I only ever had one book, this would be it. Like a book in one of Borges' other collections, Labyrinths looks like an ordinary book from the outside. From the inside, it's infinite in extent.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jun. 1998
Format: Paperback
Borges combines fiction, fact, science, imagination, and philosophy like no other. The stories in Ficciones demonstrate his unparalleled depth, each needs to be read several times to determine what transpires. He often allows for several levels of interpretation, for example 'The Garden of Forking Paths'; which perhaps serves as the best first story for one new to Borges, they will quickly learn just what they have sank their teeth into. Borges shatters such accepted notions as the linear nature of time, the limits of reality, the difference between fiction and history. He is simultaneously toying with modern man's universe and offering metaphysical theories. I don't think he is as appreciated in the US as in South America, where his influence is pervasive. Must read stories include "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero", "Three Versions of Judas" and "The Library of Babel"; indeed the entire book. His stories are even more profound in Spanish than English. This book is a must for any fan of literature.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Oldthinker on 18 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first proper exposure to Borges - though I had seen, and was intrigued by, many fragments of his works quoted by other authors, which is what eventually prompted me to pick up this book. The experience has turned out to be a mixture of joy and disappointment.

Allowance has to be made for the fact that the English translations in this collection are not those revised and approved by Borges. The sparks of stylistic brilliance occurring every now and again in this book made me wonder how different an impression I would get from the authorised translations (which, sadly, cannot be published any longer).

The majority of the stories introduce metaphysical ideas dressed as fiction, which is something that I do not care for - though this, of course, is a matter of personal preference. Some stories appear to be merely jokes of philosophic or literary nature while some closely (perhaps too closely) remind the style of Poe or Bierce. This quality may or may not be an artefact of translation; however, I certainly feel that the central premise of 'The Secret Miracle' is essentially the same as that of 'An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge' by Bierce. I recognised this even though I only ever read the latter story some 40 years ago, in a Russian translation - so the similarity must be real.

On the other hand, there are some true gems in this book - for example, 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius', whose intense poetic beauty transcends the metaphysical content, or 'Averroes's Search', which I find quite disturbing.
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