- Hardcover: 36 pages
- Publisher: David R Godine Pub (August 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 156792123X
- ISBN-13: 978-1567921236
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Library of Babel Hardcover – August 1, 2000
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This volume is intended for the lover of fine books and contains "only" this single, quite short, fantasy by Borges, beautifully illustrated with duotone etchings by Erik Desmazieres. The etchings are not particularly consistent with Borges' description of the Library, although they are plainly inspired by it. Although Desmazieres' Library appears to be physically bounded in a way that Borges' Library is not (there is no "outside" for Borges), the etchings present a magisterial universe that by the overwhelming size and fine detail of its rooms evokes a sense of the infinite in the same way that High Gothic cathedrals function. My only real quarrel with Desmazieres is that his Library is too populated. He captures the sense of infinite space, but misses the fundamental loneliness of the librarian.
Highly recommended to anyone interested in fine printing or as an addition to an existing collection of Borges' fiction. If you are new to Borges, I would recommend buying a more substantial collection of his work first, then buying this volume as a beautifully realized vision of one aspect of his universe.
"Library" is the quintessential "Borgesian" tale. The story concerns an infinite library, composed of endlessly connected hexagonal galleries, and populated by inhabitants among whom have risen various weird belief systems and subcultures. The first-person narrator is one of the library's residents. "Library" is a masterpiece of the fantastic and the metaphysical.
Giral notes in her introduction that Desmaziere's engravings are not literal representations of scenes from the story, but rather "the product of a parallel imagination, inspired to create in visual images his own, equivalent universe." The etchings have an elegant, majestic, and sometimes whimsical quality that effectively complements Borges' unique imagination. This book would make a nice gift for lovers of Borges, or of fantastic literature in general.
Print maker Eric Desmazieres provides eleven engravings, offering intricately detailed architectural drawings of the library - a monstrous, looming tower of Babel; huge internal chambers with book-shelves reaching into the darkness; urgent, scurrying librarians pushing books in barrows across narrow bridges, meticulously arranging volumes on shelves. The moody darkened images perfectly compliment Borges' prose.
The publisher, David R Godine, from Boston specialises in fine quality editions. The book itself is a wonderful example of the publisher's art. It too will have a well-deserved place in Borges' Library of Babel.