45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic, thought provoking read,
This review is from: Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (Penguin Modern Classics) (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.