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Fictions Paperback – 7 Sep 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (7 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183848
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Hardcover.

Review

"A marvelous new collection of stories by one of the most remarkable writers of our century." --Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
"The major work of probably the most influential Latin American writer of the century." --Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World
"An unparalleled treasury of marvels . . . Along with a tiny cohort of peers, and seers (Kafka and Joyce come to mind), Borges is more than a stunning storyteller and a brilliant stylist; he's a mirror who reflects the spirit of his time." --Melvin Jules Bukiet, "Chicago Tribune"
"An event worth of celebration . . . Hurley deserves our enthusiastic praise for this monumental piece of work." --William Hjortsberg, San Francisco Chronicle
"Borges is the most important Spanish-language writer since Cervantes. . . . To have denied him the Nobel Prize is as bad as the case of Joyce, Proust, and Kafka." --Mario Vargas Llosa
"When I read a good book, I sometimes like to think I might be capable of writing something similar, but never, in my wildest dreams, could I write anything that approaches the level of cleverness and intellect and madness of Borges. I don't think anyone could." --Daniel Radcliffe


A marvelous new collection of stories by one of the most remarkable writers of our century. Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
The major work of probably the most influential Latin American writer of the century. Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World
An unparalleled treasury of marvels . . . Along with a tiny cohort of peers, and seers (Kafka and Joyce come to mind), Borges is more than a stunning storyteller and a brilliant stylist; he s a mirror who reflects the spirit of his time. Melvin Jules Bukiet, "Chicago Tribune"
An event worth of celebration . . . Hurley deserves our enthusiastic praise for this monumental piece of work. William Hjortsberg, San Francisco Chronicle
Borges is the most important Spanish-language writer since Cervantes. . . . To have denied him the Nobel Prize is as bad as the case of Joyce, Proust, and Kafka. Mario Vargas Llosa
When I read a good book, I sometimes like to think I might be capable of writing something similar, but never, in my wildest dreams, could I write anything that approaches the level of cleverness and intellect and madness of Borges. I don t think anyone could. Daniel Radcliffe
" -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 19 Sept. 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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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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Format: Paperback
For the younger generation who are discovering Borges for the first time I wanted to explain a tragic state of affairs that is so typical of our time. Translation is a great art and particularly so when that which is being translated is considered by critics around the world to be Great Art. As such, great writers often work with a translator to ensure that the finished product is worthy of the original. In the case of Borges he chose to work with Norman Thomas di Giovanni for a period of ten years or more during which time they translated a considerable body of work together. These translations are some of the most sublime in the English language. With the greatest respect to Andrew Hurley for his enthusiasm, the Borges/Giovanni translations are superior to Hurley's own and without denigrating Hurley's capacities as a translator it is understandable in as far as the author of the original stories not only gave his approval to di Giovanni's translations but was in fact the co-translator. It is a great tragedy that since the death of Borges these remarkable translations have become redundant due to rather narrow and selfish pecuniary considerations taking precedence over a desire for maintaining the integrity of artistic values. A similar disrespect was shown to Nabokov when his son Dmitri published work which he had promised his father he would destroy as was his father's wish. The result was an embarassment and dishonour to the artist.

Norman Thomas di Giovanni's long, painstaking work with Borges to produce translations of extremely high quality have been overturned by a similarly unworthy disrespect for artistic integrity.
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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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