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The Book of Imaginary Beings (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 22 Feb 1990

4.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Paperback, 22 Feb 1990
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (22 Feb. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140180230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140180237
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 548,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"It's a book I look forward to as research, but even more as a kid-at-heart fan of the unnatural, the impossible, the feared" (Andrew Pyper)

"He is one of the giants of twentieth-century literature who has vastly enriched the textures of vocabulary of our fantasies and speculation. Only Borges could dream the world with such intellectual rigour" (Ian McEwan)

"Borges is a genius of the first order" (Martin Amis)

"One of Borges's great creations... The Book of Imaginary Beings tosses stone after stone into the subterranean caverns of the reader's mind. It takes us along passageways and turns corners to reveal strange shapes and images, some of which may precede and outlast anything conceived by man" (Guardian)

"Jorge Luis Borges, the century's most flagrant, ingenious and industrious compiler of manuscripts that fall short of reality" (New York Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The incomparable imagination of Jorge Luis Borges runs wild in this kaleidoscopic miscellany of fantastical creatures. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating small book, with much to amuse and much to muse on. However, be aware that the 2002 vintage paperback does not have the rather attractive cover illustrated. This might be important if you are buying for a present.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was really hoping for more from this. The number of mythical creatures and the detail seem lacking in an age of Wikipedia and the internet. My experience in the past has been specialized books containing far more detail than random websites, but in this case the book falls short.

Also, a distinct lack of illustrations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For Borges fans, this is essential. It is a fascinating little book and full of interest. BUT why is the illustration shown not the same as the book which I have just received? A trivial point, but it is the trivial points that are often irritating. Hence 4 stars and not 5
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By E. A. Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Book of Imaginary Creatures" seems like kind of a flimsy book for a great author like Jorge Luis Borges -- a bestiary of creatures from myth, religion and literature. But the book becomes deeper and more intriguing as it goes on, tapping into philosophy and common imaginings around the world.

There are several religion-based creatures -- the Biblical Levithian, Swedenborg's angels and demons, Mohammed's heavenly steed Buraq, Judaical golems (which aren't quite the same as other creatures, since people have to make them), and supernatural versions of real animals, like the white elephant that appeared before the birth of Buddha or Chinese foxes.

But even more numerous are the mythic creatures, from the usual (centaurs, unicorns, hellhounds, gryphons) to the obscure (the A Bao A Qu, an insubstantial little thing that follows people up the stairs). These are a more colourful bunch, especially since many of them -- dragons, the hare in the moon, the basilisk -- recur in different countries, and Borges told readers of most of those.

And to round it off, Borges included creatures invented in literature -- Homer and Dante's mythic creatures, Poe's Antarctic creatures, Kafka, Lewis Carroll's version of a Cheshire cat, and C.S. Lewis's alien creatures from the "Space Trilogy." These authors all created creatures that were almost too weird, but which also seemed relatively likely (as invented animals go).

"The Book of Imaginary Beings" is actually very well-rounded, with lots of bizarre or relatively unknown creatures. You'd expect a bunch of typical mythic creatures just tossed together, but fortunately Borges goes way behind the call of duty, from the A Bao A Qu to the Zaratan (a carnivorous living island).
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Format: Paperback
By turns amusing, intriguing, poignant or just plain absurd, Borges trawls the Biblioteca Nacional for examples of imaginary beasts, and summarises what is known (or believed) about them. Odd, but lovely. One to dip into.
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Format: Paperback
A curious little book. Many of the entries are interesting, notably the one about the Lamed Wufniks, who are the real powers in the world but don't realise it! Many are funny, my favourites being the creatures imagined by lumberjacks, such as the hidebehind and the pinnacle grouse (which lays square eggs). I feel though that fans of Borges would be better off reading his fiction, and the true market for this book is more likely to be found among players of fantasy role-playing games.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Disappointed at the lack of illustrations.
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