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Labyrinths (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – May 17, 2007
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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 is arguably the great bridge between modernism and post-modernism in world literature.”
- David Foster Wallace, The New York Times
“Borges anticipated postmodernism (deconstruction and so on) and picked up credit as founding father of Latin American magical realism.”
- Colin Waters, The Washington Times
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* "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" -- What if a guy decides to write his own version of Don Quixote, by literally rewriting Quixote word-for-word the exact same? It's surprisingly funny in a nerdy, academic way and very well-executed...why this isn't the first story is beyond me.
* "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero" -- An Irishman writes a biography of his legendary great-grandfather Fergus Kilpatrick, and starts to poke at the hero myth.
* "The House of Asterion" -- I was so ready to forget this one, since it was aggravatingly boring and pointless...until the twist ending. My middle school self would squeal with delight if he read this.
All of the "fictions" (calling them stories implies there's a plot, and there's certainly little of that going around in here) are interesting in their own way, but some get a little too heady. If you don't like reading that requires work, boy will some of the later stories like "The Theologians" and "Averroes' Search" leave you pretty darn frustrated. At times it can feel like you missed out on some required class reading. And it doesn't help that some of the translations feel a little more clunky than necessary.
The essays at the end are pretty nice to see Borges expand on some ideas that show up in his stories, but unless you LOVE philosophy, it makes for some pretty dry reading. And the parables are neat but oddly shoved in with the essays. I think what keeps me from giving this five stars is Borges's genius is muddled by the collection throwing all these different things into one book. TWO introductions is also ridiculous; I could not give less of a crap about William Gibson's rambling, pointless musing on Borges.
But let me be clear: I really, really liked this. Borges was a keen and inventive thinker, and it's obvious how he blazed the trail for a lot of other writers, like Umberto Eco. He's rightfully required reading. I just wish the collection was given as much thought and care as Borges puts into every single one of his fictions.
Most recent customer reviews
Later, had to buy this volume for the amazing and dream-like cover. Happy I did!