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Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings Hardcover – 1 Feb 1984

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (T) (Feb. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394604490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394604497
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,857,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Great because of their wonderful intelligence."

Borges is arguably the great bridge between modernism and post-modernism in world literature. --David Foster Wallace"

Borges anticipated postmodernism (deconstruction and so on) and picked up credit as founding father of Latin American magical realism. --Colin Waters" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jorge Luis Borges(1899-1986), Argentine writer, poet and philosopher, is best known for his books"Ficciones"and"The Aleph."

William Gibson is credited with having coined the term acyberspace, a and having envisioned both the Internet and virtual reality before either existed. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
'Labyrinths' is a tremendously successful attempt to merge metaphysics and literature. Combining philosophy and storytelling is rarely done well (maybe Camus and Sartre are the best examples), but Borges achieves it in these stories. It is metaphysics that creates the labyrinths of the title, labyrinths of the perception of 'truth'. Despite being short, each story contains layers of deception from which there is no escape. These begin with the 'historical' gravitas given to each story by Borges' claim to have discovered a manuscript, or to be retelling fact. We are then plunged into a metaphysical fantasy in which the idea of 'the truth' becomes meaningless (or at least relative). It is the success with which Borges' achieves this, rather than the style in which he does, that is the strength of this collection. I came to Borges through reading Umberto Eco, who is shamelessly influenced by the Argentinian (in 'The Name of the Rose' Borge-esque motifs such as the labyrinth - both physical and metaphysical, false trails leading to the truth, the discovery of a manuscript, etc., are prominent, as is the monk 'Jorge of Burgos'!). Any fan of Eco should try this book, as should anyone who likes their brains to be given a little workout every now and then.
I found the non-fiction at the end a little tedious, but there is not much of this. The rest of the book is a delight. It is not hard to read, but leaves you feeling a little more clever by the finish. Do yourself a favour: read this book.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an amazing compendium of applied metaphysics. If that sounds a little dry, it is anything but. It is an exhilarating, vertiginous exploration of human experience. In 'Lottery in Babylon', for example, Borges chronicles a society that decides to introduce a national lottery. Instead of settling for rewards for the winners, however, the mysterious cabal behind the enterprise decide to inflict punishments too. Gradually the rewards and punishments become more and more elaborate, and the world more and more absurd - until you realise that it is the world we live in! Each one of these tales springs a similar, almost epiphanic, revelation. Warning: this book will make you question the nature of existence, your own identity - whether this is a genuine review or part of an elaborate scam by a manipulating organizing force. One consolation though: 'The Immortal' shows that eternal life is not all it's cracked up to be.
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