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Collected Fictions (1988)

af Jorge Luis Borges

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4,508551,961 (4.6)99
For the first time in English, all the fiction by the writer who has been called "the greatest Spanish-language writer of our century" collected in a single volume A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition   From Jorge Luis Borges's 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity, through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, these enigmatic, elaborate, imaginative inventions display his talent for turning fiction on its head by playing with form and genre and toying with language. Together these incomparable works comprise the perfect one-volume compendium for all those who have long loved Borges, and a superb introduction to the master's work for those who have yet to discover this singular genius.… (mere)
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Engelsk (54)  Spansk (1)  Alle sprog (55)
Viser 1-5 af 55 (næste | vis alle)
The long labyrinthian Lovecraft-esque stories from early on in his career didn't do much for me however the shorter pieces from later on in his life are quite lovely. ( )
  Popple_Vuh | Oct 24, 2021 |
Borges seems to treat his stories as vehicles to access otherworldly situations. He doesn't appear interested in the interior lives of his characters, and I get the feeling that if he could dispense with characters altogether he would.

Some of his stories verge on science fiction to me, such as the Library of Babel or The Aleph, both stories concerned with access to ultimate human knowledge and experience.

Because his stories are so short and lightly plotted I find them easily accessible and enjoyable to read. They don't feel like work.

Many of his stories resolve in the last line or paragraph of the story, giving them a satisfying, crisp conclusion. ( )
  ekerstein | Sep 29, 2021 |
Wow, this was truly a pleasure to read and is one of those rare books that I will read again and again. I do not think it a coincidence that the Borges estate is so selective in its choice of translators and this is exhibited in everything this collection has to offer. While some (particularly in the collection of stories under the title “The Maker”) stories are a bit laconic and/or cryptic, most of these stories have a multifaceted style to their message which, for me at least, made reading each one a bit like an archeological endeavor. The ordering of the stories (at least in their sections) is so well done — each one reads right into the next, like a gradient of color across Borges wide array of styles, imagery and presentation.

The Universal History of Iniquity (might be my favorite) is a series of biographies in which Borges takes some obscure historical figure, most of which have been elevated to a heroic status in modern lore from various cultures around the world (at least at the time of writing). Playing the role, first of cultural critic, Borges points out some of the incoherence to the stories of these characters; usually along moralistic lines. Second, Borges plays the role of historian by fitting these characters into less generous but generally holistic moral tales.

The Garden of the Forking Paths appears to be much more abstract in its story telling but clearly emphasizes some tricky aspects of the world. Questions of authority, knowledge, identity, culture are all questioned in various creative and enticing ways. These stories probably offer the most interpretive paths to the Big Questions of Borges (and myself [and possibly yourself] too).

Artifices definitely seems to be an extension of the previous collection of works (The Garden of the Forking Paths) perhaps with less fantastical settings. These stories definitely evoked some visceral environments; the texture of the tales emphasizes aspects of each story that cannot be read from any particular sentence or paragraph.

The Aleph is probably the most abstract collection. Personally, at least on first reading, I found this to be the most obscure — the only bits I could manage to grab onto and extrapolate struck me as a bit tenuous and perhaps cliche. Definitely will be reading this section again.

The Maker is mostly composed of very short stories addressed or dedicated to various friends and icons. Similarly abstract, but far less material (ie. words) to work with than in The Aleph.

Museum serves as a great segue into the latter half of the book. Composed of two very short stories and an afterword we are introduced to ancient stories with (what was, at the time) modern titles.

In Praise of Darkness illustrates some of Borges’ attempts to paint the world on a different canvas than his own. Attempts to fuse new colors and mediums into his story telling by emphasizing their basis in the real world and their what their losses have been to history.

Brodie’s Report, very aptly titled, takes the canvases from the previous collection of stories weaving them into the realities of their protagonists in an attempt to do what Borges has found himself always doing — discerning what and where his convictions lay. Attempts to discover new windows to reality and, ultimately, where his place is within it.

The Book of Sand introduces Borges dealings with his onset of blindness in his later years and, generally, the seemingly inherent morbidity of life and what we are to make of it. Many stories of reflection, mirror images and meetings between selves from different times.

Shakespeare’s Memory is a fantastic way to cap off this delightful collection of stories. Whether or not it was known to Borges, Shakespeare’s Memory perfectly touches on all of the previous aspects of Borges’ works of fiction. It is up to us to make of our lives what we will and we can only do this through our own conviction; however, we must not forget that our convictions are only as strong as the next person’s and theirs only as strong as the next.

Regardless of our convictions being of our own persuasion or those of our parents, our religion, etc. we must realize that none of them are any more correct than another and it is this that has confounded humanity since the beginning of time.

How is it that we are to overcome such a mangled mass of nuance and complexity? Borges offers no direct answer, but he’ll give you plenty to think about. ( )
  mitchanderson | Jan 17, 2021 |
Some books you can't make yourself put down, and others you can't make yourself pick up. Gass's The Tunnel ruined reading for me for months because I didn't feel like I could read anything else until I finished it, and I couldn't bear to read much of it at a time. Jorge Luis Borges's Collected Fictions I carried around like some sort of a curse for a couple of weeks. These are books that you feel like you ought to read, that you know people admire, that you really do want to get through, that you know are probably good for you, but that just don't do it for you.

I finally finished the Borges today and really don't understand the fascination people have for him. His is a name you hear with awe and respect. I had meant to read him for years and was finally nudged into doing so upon reading several references to him in a John Barth essay collection recently. The Barth also nudged me to read Don Quixote, which I enjoyed a lot, and The Thousand Nights and a Night, which will take a good long time but which I'm digging. So I was optimistic about Borges.

His stories seem to take a few forms:

  • History (usually about gauchos or knife fighting or Argentenian politics) retold.

  • Revenge plots (some overlap with the history here).

  • Brief philosophical or mystical musings that fall really flat.

  • Fantasies.


The first three varieties generally don't much interest me. I don't have a head for or a particular interest in history or politics, and though the knife-fighting gauchos make for an occasional fun (if oddly subdued) read, I don't need a dozen of them. The fantasies, and particular those that touch on the infinite and on doubling, are the stories that required less of a stiff upper lip for me to get through. Even those sometimes Borges delivers in a way that winds up feeling sort of deflated. He's a master of telling a story and then adding a punchy closing line that wrecks the whole thing. In the shorter mystical pieces, he has a way of making simple statements about things and then adding a feeble flourish that seems designed to make you think the story is deep, but to me, it comes off pretty badly, as if he's a magician doing the thumb-removal trick we all learned as kids and finishing with a big "ta-da" and a deep bow. His tricks, in other words, don't merit nearly the response he seems to expect. It's pretty annoying.

The later work appealed to me more than the earlier work, as evidenced by the sharply increasing frequency of dog-eared stories toward the end of the book. I dog-eared nothing until nearly halfway through the book, when I was struck by "The Zahir." Others that I liked to some degree or another include the following:

  • The Aleph

  • The Interloper

  • The Encounter

  • The Gospel According to Mark

  • Brodie's Report

  • The Other

  • The Book of Sand

  • Blue Tigers


The penultimate collection, The Book of Sand, is the strongest in the book.

A few references in Barth's book aside, I've studiously avoided reading any criticism or even biographical information about Borges in hopes that I could form my own opinion unsullied. My opinion's obviously not very high. I'll be curious now to read a bit to discover all the ways in which my opinion is ill-informed and unjust; I'm sure there must be much to Borges that I'm missing. He seems to have been an awfully smart man, just not one whose fictions struck me in general as being as great as a whole as I gather they're trumped up to be. I'm glad I read the book, and I'll likely revisit a few of those dog-eared pieces. I'm also glad to be done with the book and eager to move on. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
There are lots of criminals, cultists, conspirators, revolutionaries, and dictators in these stories, frequently cast into a sort of parody of a well-worn literary trope which Borges is treating with evident affection. There are only a few women here and there. Frequently his tales provide splendid examples of the storytelling maxim that one should get out early rather than late, sometimes in the middle of the main action leaving the reader in a state of turmoil wondering what exactly just happened. He also uses economy in depicting people and places in as few strokes as possible, sometimes taking just a few lines, or maybe a couple of paragraphs, to introduce and dispose of a subplot. It is well known how he has inspired many writers of speculative fiction by the way he blazed a trail through realms of uninhibited fancy. Not every single one is a masterpiece, but virtually all of them has some aspect that I would like to steal and use in my own stories. ( )
  rmagahiz | Jul 9, 2020 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (3 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Borges, Jorge Luisprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Guidall, GeorgeFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Hurley, AndrewOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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For the first time in English, all the fiction by the writer who has been called "the greatest Spanish-language writer of our century" collected in a single volume A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition   From Jorge Luis Borges's 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity, through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, these enigmatic, elaborate, imaginative inventions display his talent for turning fiction on its head by playing with form and genre and toying with language. Together these incomparable works comprise the perfect one-volume compendium for all those who have long loved Borges, and a superb introduction to the master's work for those who have yet to discover this singular genius.

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