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The Aleph and Other Stories (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 27, 2004

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"He more than anyone renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish-American novelists. Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, José Donoso, and Mario Vargas Llosa have all acknowledged their debt to him." —J.M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books

"He has lifted fiction away from the flat earth where most of our novels and short stories still take place." —John Updike

 

About the Author

Andrew Hurley is a translator of numerous works of literature, criticism, history, and memoir. He is professor emeritus at the University of Puerto Rico.
Andrew Hurley is a translator of numerous works of literature, criticism, history, and memoir. He is professor emeritus at the University of Puerto Rico.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (July 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437889
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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96 of 101 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on June 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was surprised to find when I picked up this book that it is not the same selection of stories as the earlier published THE ALEPH AND OTHER STORIES 1933-1969, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni in collaboration with Borges himself. Instead, it is a translation of two volumes published by Borges in Argentina, THE ALEPH and THE MAKER (EL HACEDOR), translated by Andrew Hurley.

As for the stories themselves, I can say only that they are some of the most magical tales written in the last hundred years, perhaps even ever. Stories like "The Immortal," "Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden," "The Zahir," and "The Aleph" are worthy of being read over and over again.

Since I already have these stories in other form by other translators, I wanted to determine how good Hurley's translation is. To that end, I'll compare some of my favorite passages. Let's start with the title story in the Hurley translation:

"Under the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbelievable brightness. At first I thought it was spinning; then I realized that the movement was an illusion produced by the dizzying spectacles inside it. The Aleph was probably two or three centimeters in diameter, but universal space was contained inside it, with no diminution in size. Each thing (the glass surface of a mirror, let us say) was inifinite things, because I could clearly see it from every point in the cosmos."

Here di Giovanni with the same paragraph:

"On the back part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbelievable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realized that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 16, 2007
Format: 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.

"The Aleph and Other Stories" includes two different books of Borges', very different in their styles -- one is rich and epic, while the other is sort of short and quirky. But this collection is a shining example of why people enjoy Borges -- magical, rich in language, and lets us glimpse the minds of anything and anyone he can conjure up.

The title story involves a sort of fictional version of Borges, who makes regular pilgrimages to the house of a woman he loved, and encounters her slightly nuts first cousin Daneri, who is composing a horrible epic poem describing the whole world. When Daneri's house is threatened, he reveals how he's composed the poem -- the Aleph, which he discovered as a child, and he allows Borges to catch a glimpse of... everything.

The other stories have tales of heretics and holy men, of a man's last days awaiting an assassin's bullet, of a girl who coldly seeks revenge for her father, and the Zahir (the opposite of the Aleph), which can cause an all-encompassing obsession in the one who sees it, until they shut out reality.

And in the second book, he spins up a long string of very, VERY short stories (some only a paragraph). Some are musings on his toes, and nothing much more. But there are also brief stories of startling depth, such as God speaking to Dante and the "Divine Comedy's" leopard, and assuring them of their literary immortality.

The main flaw with this collection is that it's basically split into two very dissimilar styles -- some of them are short and relatively plain, while the others are dense pockets of philosophy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gomez Pardo HALL OF FAME on September 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
In these tales , Borges retakes his favorite themes and according to his acustomed inventive modality , gives them a unexpected and shinning threatment. He risks in every page a new imagination of the fantastic universe that he - as anyone else - knew how create among us . It is well reknown his capacity to build estethical metaphors of philosophic trascendence . The fair endings , mathematics never lose its characteristic sensibility . That is why you can state that these tales conform its geometric miracle .

To those who seek the brilliant Borges of the unfinnished mental games , you must name The Zahir , The two kings , The teologhists .

And even if you prefer the walking Buenos Aires Borges of this stage that always is giving background and national perspective to his work you will find friendly pages in The dead man , The wait and Emma Zunz .

Please, make yourself a favour and get into the enigmatic universe , the asimetrical axis , the elusive encounters , the sinister otherness and eliptic dreams of that outstanding writer who was Jorge Luis Borges .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kkristendom on December 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
To read Jorge Luis Borges --the Argentinian sage-- is more than a challenge, it is a losing battle with literary reality because Borges erased the borders between the quotidian, the dream, magic realism, hallucination, and eternity.

One can just picture Borges (the man) going to his grave with an impish smile on his lips, thrilled with the knowledge that many of us would endlessly continue to puzzle out his contrived stories.

For example, search as hard as we might, we will never find the 602nd night of the Thousand and One Nights; the night when Scheherazade tells a story about herself telling a story in which she also tells a story about--and so on in an infinite regress.

Forever we will also attempt to decipher the magic of "The Aleph," the point of all points in which we can see all of creation in an instant; much as God did on the seventh day. In the short story--the Aleph--Borges cites similar ideas about creation, such as the Shield of Achilles in which the entire cosmos is depicted.

Closer to our times, contemporary writer Marciano Guerrero situates the Aleph in New York City! In a culminating scene of his novel the Poison Pill, the protagonist Ivon Bates, sees and hears all the languages of the world and their convergence into the Adamic language and God's totality.

Time, Borges thought, is an illusion; a daring hypothesis with an obvious proof: The Borges (not the man but the character) of "Borges and I," will live forever.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

[...]
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