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by Jorge Luis Borges

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-670-84970-7
Publisher: Viking

Mirrors, labyrinths, libraries, gardens, doppelgÑngers, knife fights, and tigers recur memorably in these witty, colorful tales—which have exerted an incalculable influence on the past half-century’s fiction. For this first installment in a projected three-volume series of Borges’s work (to be followed by poetry and nonfiction collections), translator-editor Hurley has included the contents of seven previously published books (notably, the seminal Ficciones, 1944), plus previously untranslated work from the 1980s (of which Shakespeare’s Memory most successfully recapitulates Borges’s urbane bridging of temporal and imaginary “worlds”). Gloriously ruminative and bookish, Borges’s teasing fictions skillfully absorb the influences of his native Argentina’s indigenous folktales, various world mythologies, Anglo-Saxon verse, Icelandic saga, Poe, Cervantes, and Chesterton, along with numerous other literary touchstones. Among the best: the arcane pseudohistory of an imaginary planet (“Tlon, Ugbar, Orbus Tertius”); a memorable realization of Borges’s credo that all “new” stories are inevitably old ones retold (“Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”); a clever lampooning of the author’s own polymathism (“Funes the Memorious”); and a supremely ingenious detective story (“Death and the Compass”). Authoritative testimony to the virtues of eclecticism and cosmopolitanism, and a matchless gift to readers that belongs, as the old saying goes, in every library. (First serial to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Grand Street)