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Labyrinths (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – May 17, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If Jorge Luis Borges had been a computer scientist, he probably would have invented hypertext and the World Wide Web.

Instead, being a librarian and one of the world's most widely read people, he became the leading practitioner of a densely layered imaginistic writing style that has been imitated throughout this century, but has no peer (although Umberto Eco sometimes comes close, especially in Name of the Rose).

Borges's stories are redolent with an intelligence, wealth of invention, and a tight, almost mathematically formal style that challenge with mysteries and paradoxes revealed only slowly after several readings. Highly recommended to anyone who wants their imagination and intellect to be aswarm with philosophical plots, compelling conundrums, and a wealth of real and imagined literary references derived from an infinitely imaginary library. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Borges anticipated postmodernism (deconstruction and so on) and picked up credit as founding father of Latin American magical realism. -- Colin Waters, The Washington Times

Borges is arguably the great bridge between modernism and post-modernism in world literature. -- David Foster Wallace, The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (May 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811216993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811216999
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First, a memory: at the age of 19, I walked into a college elective course on Latin American literature, and was presented with a syllabus which included several works by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Manuel Puig, Julio Cortazar, and Jorge Luis Borges. We were to begin with Borges, which became a life-changing discovery.

Since then, Borges has come to stand alongside Vladimir Nabokov as my favorite writer; they are two people whose writing I couldn't imagine not knowing. And LABYRINTHS is the place to begin - it's where I started, and once a year or so, it's the collection I most readily return to.

Other reviewers have done an excellent job of summing up his style, so instead of rehashing, I'll zero in on some favorites: "Death And The Compass," which blends Borges' vast knowledge of global histories and religions with his love of pulp and genre conventions; the end results are a metaphysical mystery like no others. Or "The Sect Of The Phoenix," which - in the most simplistic analysis - is a birds-and-bees discourse undertaken with unusual originality, and enhanced with anthropological allegories.

Other high-water marks include "A New Refutation Of Time," "The Garden Of Forking Paths," the brief "Borges And I" and "Pierre Menard, Author Of The Quixote." I would note that there's not a false moment to be found here, and after dozens of re-readings, I still enjoy finding new secrets hidden within these crystalline fictions, parables and essays.

Anyone with a love of literature should get to know Borges.

-David Alston
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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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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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Borges combines fiction, fact, science, imagination, and philosophy like no other. The stories in Ficciones demonstrate his unparalleled depth, each needs to be read several times to determine what transpires. He often allows for several levels of interpretation, for example 'The Garden of Forking Paths'; which perhaps serves as the best first story for one new to Borges, they will quickly learn just what they have sank their teeth into. Borges shatters such accepted notions as the linear nature of time, the limits of reality, the difference between fiction and history. He is simultaneously toying with modern man's universe and offering metaphysical theories. I don't think he is as appreciated in the US as in South America, where his influence is pervasive. Must read stories include "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero", "Three Versions of Judas" and "The Library of Babel"; indeed the entire book. His stories are even more profound in Spanish than English. This book is a must for any fan of literature.
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