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Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (Twentieth Century Classics) [Paperback]

Jorge Luis Borges
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia. Read the first page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The search for Borges Oct. 18 2010
Format:Paperback
I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first proper exposure to Borges - though I had seen, and was intrigued by, many fragments of his works quoted by other authors, which is what eventually prompted me to pick up this book. The experience has turned out to be a mixture of joy and disappointment.

Allowance has to be made for the fact that the English translations in this collection are not those revised and approved by Borges. The sparks of stylistic brilliance occurring every now and again in this book made me wonder how different an impression I would get from the authorised translations (which, sadly, cannot be published any longer).

The majority of the stories introduce metaphysical ideas dressed as fiction, which is something that I do not care for - though this, of course, is a matter of personal preference. Some stories appear to be merely jokes of philosophic or literary nature while some closely (perhaps too closely) remind the style of Poe or Bierce. This quality may or may not be an artefact of translation; however, I certainly feel that the central premise of 'The Secret Miracle' is essentially the same as that of 'An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge' by Bierce. I recognised this even though I only ever read the latter story some 40 years ago, in a Russian translation - so the similarity must be real.

On the other hand, there are some true gems in this book - for example, 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius', whose intense poetic beauty transcends the metaphysical content, or 'Averroes's Search', which I find quite disturbing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I had the pleasure to read borges May 12 2002
Format:Paperback
I had the pleasure to read borges in his native languaje (Spanish). I even have the honor to consider him one of my own, since im from Argentina. Sometimes I regret that Maradona is a better example of an Argentinian than Borges, and better known worldwide.
I first red Borges when i was 15 (im 17 now), i started with "The Aleph", and i just didnt have the intelectaul requirements to understand it. Buy right now im reading "Personal Anthology", and i find it simply wonderfull.
His obsession with Mirrors, Cats and Labyrinths its very intresting. His conception of the world is strange and difficult to describe, and his love for knowledge and languajes is outstanding.
Borges gave his life to literature, and he died saying "I wasnt happy... books took my life". He took a sacrifice to teach others. He gave his whole life to his readers, and i, as a reader, am very very greatfull. Literature would have a huge hole without this genious of literature.
I apologize for any grammar mistakes... this is not my native languaje, but i thought an Argentine perpective of Borges was, at least usefull, if not necessary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brainiac's delight July 16 2001
By Kay Gee
Format:Paperback
Borges is not quite like any other author I've ever read. Some of his influences appear to have been Swift (in his brilliant, mock high-serious parodies of scholarly writings) and E.T.A. Hoffman (in the often arcane subject matter of his stories, and in their sheer weirdness). He shares with his contemporary, Nabokov, great stylistic elegance and a love of intellectual puzzles.
And he's clearly influenced the work of a host of artists, writers, and thinkers: the Foucault of "What Is An Author?," Stanley Fish's reader response theories, the paintings of Remedios Varo, the novels of Auster and Pynchon, even the recent film "Memento," all bear unmistakable traces of his influence. Perhaps the writer Borges most resembles is Kafka - he and Kafka were masters of the short story, managing in a few taut pages to pack a dazzling breadth and depth of ideas, effects, and implications. Most significantly of all, both Borges and Kafka are in many ways sui generis.
So you really must READ Borges (who, shockingly, never won the Nobel Prize) to get a full measure of his originality. His stories are mysterious, elliptical, hauntingly beautiful. The best of them are capable of expanding the boundaries of consciousness by forcing the reader to question the nature of knowledge, of time, of identity, of reality itself. In short, the effect is, as I believe they called it way back in the 60s, a mindf***.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Literature. A Work of Genius April 13 2002
Format:Paperback
I have difficulty imagining a world without the literature of Borges. It would be incomplete. His works - so unique, so eclectic, so intellectually stimulating, and so enjoyable - seem so essential.
Jorge Luis Borges is one of the great writers of the twentieth century. His literary works include short stories, essays, and poetry, but not novels. He was never awarded the Nobel Literature Prize, a rather remarkable failure by the Nobel Committee. Borges will be read and respected long after many Nobel Prize winners of the last century have been forgotten.
"Labyrinths" is an exceptional collection, great as an introduction to Borges, but equally suitable for the reader already familiar with his works. It consists of 23 of his best known stories, ten literary essays, eight short parables, an elegy to Borges from Borges himself, and a very useful bibliography.
The detailed bibliography helps make Borges' works more accessible. In the last fifty years Borges' works in English have been published as a confusing mix of overlapping collections, largely due to complications regarding publishing rights.
Translations also differ. The first sentence in The Form of the Sword (from Ficciones) - "His face was crossed with a rancorous scar: a nearly perfect ashen arc which sank into his temple on one side and his cheek on the other" - is recognizable, but transformed in The Shape of the Sword (from Labyrinths) - "A spiteful scar crossed his face: an ash-colored and nearly perfect arc creased his temple at one tip and his cheek at the other." While both translations are good, I suspect that the effort to master Spanish would be paid in full by the joy of reading Borges in his native language.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The diverse seas of the world
Trying to full describe the writings of Jorge Luis Borges is like trying to explain exactly why Leonardo da Vinci's art still captivates. The man wrote works of art. Read more
Published on May 1 2011 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotically Hyperreal
Borges has ability to bring you into the multi-dimensional pockets of his hyperrealistic stories. A most romantic observer, and a wonderful story teller.
Published on June 20 2004 by Elena Ho
4.0 out of 5 stars The bibliography is a lie!
The back cover of this book glibly promises "a biographical and critical introduction, as well as an extensive bibliography. Read more
Published on March 9 2004 by William J. Tychonievich
3.0 out of 5 stars Labyrinths With No Bottom!
If you cannot gather from the title, Jorge Luis Borges' Labyrinths, is a collection of short stories and other writings based on labyrinths--you know, mazes. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2003 by Nobody!
5.0 out of 5 stars Sci-fiction? I dont think so- you missed the boat
6 Characters in Search of an Author and It is so if you think So are hardly sci-fi. Its called theatre of the absurd, folks, not sci-fi. Hey , Im a Lit major (B.A. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars How Does One Critique Perfection?
I believe it is in the introduction of Labyrinths where it is said that the reasons Borges never wrote a novel were because his short stories were so clear, so concise, that they... Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2003 by "netchild"
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT'S THE SECRET OF THE SECRET SECT?
Several of the previous reviewers of LABYRINTHS have done an excellent job of discussing its nature and general contents as well as addressing Borges, his background, and his... Read more
Published on March 31 2003 by Loren D. Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars A winding Labyrinth of odd prose
'Odd prose' is perhaps the best phrase for Borges, being nearly oxymoronic. For Borges's musings, it seems very appropos. Read more
Published on March 11 2003 by KNO2skull
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for avid philosophy and poetry readers alike.
If you enjoy poetry, you will love Borges' unique style.
If, like me, you're more inclined to philosophy you will love Borges' refreshing and entertaining treatment of classic... Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2002 by Robert Rosenbaum
5.0 out of 5 stars superlative writing
The short stories which comprise "Labyrinths" are all amazing. Borges is able to put his ideas into words unlike any writer I have studied. Read more
Published on April 14 2002 by D. Montros
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