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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars modern magic
Reading these stories is a remarkable experience. It brings back the feeling I had as a child on opening a thick book of fairy tales to enter that enchanted world of dark forests, hidden castles, solitary woodcutters, questing simpletons, sleeping princesses, wolves, bears, and magic.
Published on Sept. 21 2000 by marzipan

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good collection, bad translation
These stories read like they are translated verbatim without any consideration of how enjoyable the end product will be. Hurley's sentences are frigid and mechanical, lacking much of the simplicity and brevity that makes Borges great. Only some of Borges's stories are supposed to read like encyclopedia entries.
Di Giovanni's translations are far more readable...
Published on Feb. 5 2000


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars modern magic, Sept. 21 2000
By 
marzipan "panchild" (Greenwich, CT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
Reading these stories is a remarkable experience. It brings back the feeling I had as a child on opening a thick book of fairy tales to enter that enchanted world of dark forests, hidden castles, solitary woodcutters, questing simpletons, sleeping princesses, wolves, bears, and magic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The grammar of the fantastic, a formidable achievement, Sept. 13 2000
By 
Paco Aramburu (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
True, the translation could be better. I found myself re-writing in my head alternative sentences. But that is exactly what Borges would have wanted his readers to do. A dream master, JLB guides us into worlds that guess at other worlds and leads us to our own discoveries. I can't count the times I had to put the book down to allow myself to ponder on what I was reading. Some of his stories border the essay, and that uncertainty makes the plot more believable and profound. Like with any book, recreate it in your mind, and be part of a Borges dream.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good collection, bad translation, Feb. 5 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
These stories read like they are translated verbatim without any consideration of how enjoyable the end product will be. Hurley's sentences are frigid and mechanical, lacking much of the simplicity and brevity that makes Borges great. Only some of Borges's stories are supposed to read like encyclopedia entries.
Di Giovanni's translations are far more readable. After all, Di Giovanni worked closely with Borges during translation, and Borges himself had a pretty good understanding of the English language.
Having said that, I'm grateful that these stories are finally available in a single volume. But I feel the book would have been much better had Hurley only translated the stories for which a good translation does not already exist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If Not badly translated, surely differently so., Oct. 21 1999
By 
Edward W. Jawer (WYNCOTE, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
To be finally faced with this monumental work cannot be anything but a joy and privledge to anyone who reveres the work of Jorge Luis Borges. To one whose English contact with his work has been represented by others than Andrew Hurley however, his work can be abruptly disconcerting. Consider and compare one spare example: Read side by side from "The Book Of Sand", the two versions of "The Other", both by Andrew Hurley and that of Norman Thomas Di Giovanni, and you may recall the fable of the blind men describing an elephant; each by feeling a different part of the anatomy. They tell the identical tale, but the resultant effect is completely dipolar. Di Giovanni recreates for us in English, the essential magical realism with which Borges spoke, while retaining the essence and cadence that fill this short tale with it's dreamlike structure. It is carefully and lovingly crafted, with respect and methodic attention to the original Spanish cadre. The hypnotic illusion it creates puts the reader in it's spell fully, from the first sentence. Hurley's version, relies soley upon his perception of how best to explain to the reader, what it is he thinks the author had in mind.. It is as if though he sought to put the lines onto paper as quickly as possible, while recreating a contemporary English version of Borges plan. For the reader new to Borges' majestic presence, there is an unwarranted intrusion into the translation concept, as if the project was rushed to completion. How long and hard Hurley has worked on this enormous procect deserves utmost admiration. How new readers of Borges will interpret what they read is troubling, in comparison to those who have come before him.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Andrew Hurley's translations are a travesty, June 11 2004
By 
C. G. Buttimer (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
I regrettably have to concur with the readers from Portland and Panama - as they indicate this collection is a tragedy, as well as a travesty. Here are a couple of examples from my desert island short story, Tlon Uqbar, Orbius Tertius:
- Andrew Hurley has: "The mirror troubled the far end of a hallway in a large country house..."
- James E. Irby (in the Penguin Modern Classic edition of Labyrinths) has: "The mirror troubled the depths of a corridor in a country house..."
and
AH: "... A literal (though also laggardly) reprint..."
JEI: "... a literal but delinquent reprint..."
He doesn't seem to have any respect for Borges' style of writing. Really disappointing. And Carlos Fuentes, a notable admirer of Borges, shared this view on reviewing the Hurley edition.
Avoid.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Much of a Good Thing, Aug. 14 2003
By 
Andrea H. (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
Jorges Luis Borges is undoubtedly one of the most inventive and important, if not necessarily influential, writers of the 20th century. That he was denied the Nobel Prize truly is a crime. Borges' symbol-ridden, black hole-esque stories intrigue, delight, and puzzle.
However, let me advise all but the most dedicated Borges readers away from this collection. Though the translation is very good, Borges himself only had a few themes in his entire life, and as he grew older he was sadly reduced to simply repeating them over and over (sometimes reworking even the same incident for a different story), with diminishing returns every time. Simply put, his best collection is "Ficciones;" there's no need to read the complete Borges because "Ficciones" contains his freshest explorations of his concerns. If you loved "Ficciones" as much as I did, then go buy "Labyrinths," but not the "Collected Fictions." After that, read "The Man Who Was Thursday" by G. K. Chesterton, the best novel by a writer who clearly influenced Borges, and whom Borges tried, never quite successfully, to imitate in his later work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Borges as Symbol, Sept. 27 2000
By 
Ralph Ensconcer (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
I lay on the grass by the poolside at the Brunswick City Baths. I'd done my laps and was now enjoying the vigorous exhaustion that is the reward. It was one of those Melbourne summer days when the atmosphere seems to have evaporated, leaving the earth wholly exposed to the sun's withering energy. A harsh, resplendent scene lay before me. Water, bodies, trees, buildings; all stood sharp-edged and brilliantly surfaced, blasted of mystery and vagueness. I fetched a volume of Borges from my bag and began to read Funes the Memorious.
Once you've read a couple of Borges's stories, you know what's coming; and after a page or so I began musing, somewhat complacently; "hmm, here we go again...take an idea and exhaust it...just like the library, the lottery, the garden...in this case, a chap who remembers everything...so, to him, everything is particular, an instance, nothing general or representative...no doubt he'll disintegrate under the weight of infinite impressions". And in fact, that's more or less what happens. One doesn't read Borges as one reads, say, a detective story (a genre Borges loved, and employed for his own peculiar purposes) -to "see what happens", for the "thrill of the unexpected". Reading Borges, we are somewhat in the position of 5th century Athenians witnessing a tragedy, or a Christian audience at a nativity play. What "happens" is already known, is inevitable, predestined (by history, by literature, by cultural inheritance, by previous readings and auditions, by the logic of ideas). The interest is in the treatment, the beauty in the exposition.
We're told Borges writes well. The translations read well enough. The signs are there of a rigorous, self-conscious stylist - all those semicolons and precise, (no doubt) laboriously chosen adjectives. The prose never flows; there's nothing "inspired" about it - no rapturous rhapsodies or long lilting cadences. Never does Borges "let himself go". Every sentence is nuanced, qualified, harnessed (inhibited, why not say it?) by a ferociously fastidious syntactical awareness. (I am not forgetting that Borges admired Whitman and translated Faulkner. I am forgetting the early poetry.)
Oh, I know the objections. "It's all whim and vanity...just a formalistic game, a play with combinations, random aesthetics...emotionally, morally, humanly cold, empty...socially irresponsible...life's not like that", etc. I have no desire to defend Borges against any of this. I no longer look for life in books. I no longer look for life.
I was alive reading Borges among the gleaming bodies, the shrieking children, the intolerable white sun of noon. The truth was that I read very little. The boy who forgets nothing was interesting, but no more than the day itself and the mere fact of being.
"To propose lucidity to men in a lowly romantic era"; such was the "noble mission" Borges admired in Valéry, and inherited from him. And what Borges found in Valéry, I find in Borges: "the symbol of a man who, in an age that worships the chaotic idols of blood, earth and passion, preferred always the lucid pleasures of thought and the secret adventures of order".
One can't long tolerate the white sun of noon.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible translation, March 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
Thank God! I was beginning to think I had gone mad. Someone else had the courage and the lucidity to point out that this is a terrible translation of Borges. Sadly, many young readers have not had access to the translations of Di Giovanni, Alastair Reid, John Hollander, Anthony Kerrigan, and yes, even the late great Selden Rodman. It was in reading Selden Rodman's translation of the poem 'Limits' as compared to the translation in the compilation by Monegal & Reid that it came home to me how important it is that Borges be translated by someone who comprehends Borges. (If it may be said that anyone truly comprehends Borges) Rodman's translation is brilliant as is Alastair Reid's; but they are almost two separate poems.
Amazon offers used titles and it is important for those who want to read Borges correctly that they seek out the translations of Norman Thomas Di Giovanni as they are infinitely superior to the translations of Andrew Hurley, so much so that Hurley actually does harm to Borges, while Di Giovanni, allows the magic that Borges created to be accessible to the reader. Di Giovanni worked hand in hand with Borges. They were friends and Di Giovanni understood what Borges was about.
What I believe has occurred is that Borges second wife Maria Kodama did not like Di Giovanni and has attempted to stifle the translations of Di Giovanni. Kodama is an intelligent woman, but intelligence is no guarantee that one can comprehend the hidden meanings of Borges writing. Doubtless she means well, but if she has chosen Hurley over Di Giovanni for personal reasons, she has done a tremendous injustice to the legacy of Jorge Luis Borges.
Get a used copy with a translation by Di Giovanni. You will learn a great deal more about what Borges was saying. This translation by Hurley is an insult to Jorge Luis Borges.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blow your mind, March 21 2011
By 
D Glover (northern bc, canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
To have all of Borges' prose fiction in one volume is such a treat. I was lead to Borges by Umberto Eco and I have enjoyed every moment I have spent enthralled in Borges' short stories. One can certainly see how he has been influenced by Chesterton and Poe and how, in turn, he has influenced Eco and so many other modern day writers who now mix the natural and supernatural in their tales. These fantastic tales of labyrinths, mirrors, parallel dimensions, non-linear time, dreams, imaginary documents and fictional authors, as well as his folk tales of a past Argentina, will simultaneously mesmerize and frustrate readers: mesmerize because the reader will be carried away into the bizarre worlds of Borges' imagination; frustrate because it will leave the reader wishing for more and longer works (it is especially sad for me that Borges never wrote a novel...thankfully Eco translates some of the main ideas within Borges' short stories into his novels).

Some reviewers bemoan Hurley's translation as being less literary than other previous translations, and the language can tend to be somewhat plain. Personally, whatever you may think about any given translation or which style you may prefer, what we do know about Borges is that he would have approved of multiple translations - the more the merrier - and he would have relished the places where his stories differed between translations and laughed at the arguments the differences have caused. After all, could anything be more Borgesian? He translated several great works into Spanish and was noted for the subtle changes he sometimes consciously introduced.

While all of Borges is definitely not for everyone, everyone should at least read a few of his stories. Some good starters would be "The Garden of Forking Paths", "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote", "The Circular Ruins", The Library of Babel" and "The Duel". These tales will give you a great cross section of his works and they will blow your mind at the same time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masks and mirrors, June 26 2008
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Collected Fictions (Paperback)
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.

And this classic writer's brilliant, surreally exquisite works are on best display in "Borges: Collected Fictions," whose plain name belies the subtle power and exquisite beauty of Jorges' short stories. His intricate and atmospheric narratives are magical, rich in language, and lets us glimpse the minds of anything and anyone he can conjure up.

Interestingly, the first of these "Fictions" is a series of fictionalized stories about real people -- veiled prophets, Chinese pirates, silver-tongued outlaws, Swedenborg, a Japanese courtier and a legendary American outlaw. Only Borges' vivid writing gives these stories a larger-than-life quality, as if he had spun them out of his imagination.

But the completely fictional stories he created don't take long to appear. Among them are more gritty narratives -- a pair of brothers torn by their mutual love for a woman, a girl coldly calculating her revenge, a labyrinthine story of espionage during World War II, and a woman whose obsession with her dead, dashing husband leads her down into madness.

But these are far outweighed by Borges' magical realism, which soaks the book from start to finish -- encounters with past and future selves, brilliant books and authors that never existed, the mystical Aleph and Zahir which show everything and nothing, a hunt for blue tigers that leads to strangely fascinating stones, an alchemist's rose, a poet telling a king of pure beauty and wonder, and receiving the hazy memories of Shakespeare.

And then some of his stories cross the border into pure wonder and fantasy. Borges explores the concept of the Eternal Library that catalogues reality, masks, Minotaurs, a man who tries to dream a new being into existence, a search for a city of ancient immortals, and the exploration of ancient heresies, cities, endless books and cults that never existed at all, except in the confines of Borges' mind.

If this collection has any flaw at all, it's that Borges isn't at his best when he tells gritty realistic stories, about knifings, mobs and barroom murders. While these stories are powerful, they feel vaguely restrained, as if he's holding back his writing skill from its fullest.

The rest of the time, Borges' writing is exquisitely detailed and atmospheric, and densely packed with philosophical pockets. And these stories are magical realism in the purest sense, with a slight, almost mystical twist to the everyday events that we take for granted. Being mistaken for someone else, being sold a book, and visiting a relative all take on deep significance.

And Borges wraps these stories in lush, digified prose that takes a little while to wade through, but the richness of the words he uses is worth it ("A landscape dazzlingly underlain with gold and silver, a windblown, dizzying landscape of monumental mesas and delicate colouration..."). He's even able to alter his style drastically -- one story has the flavor of an Irish legend, while another is a Lovecraftian sci-fi horror story about aliens in a farmhouse. And his writing takes on many different people's selves -- he even makes readers squirm by taking us into the mind of a loyal Nazi.

It's almost like another world, Borgeworld, which is almost like ours, but where magical items are hidden in the cellars, houses are built by angels, the Minotaur plays in his maze, and God dreams of mortal lives. The most entrancing foray into Borgeworld is "The Immortal," about a Roman soldier who goes searching for a city of immortals, and finds an ancient poet who seems very familiar.

"Borges: Collected Fictions" is a very dull name for the collected works of a literary genius, full of shadows, mirrors, masks and the expanses of the human mind. Definitely a must-have.
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Collected Fictions
Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (Paperback - Aug. 9 1999)
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