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The book of sand Hardcover – 1977

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"[Borges] was a superb storyteller. One reads most of Borges's tales with the hypnotic interest usually reserved for reading detective fiction." -Mario Vargas Llosa --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; 1st edition (1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525069925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525069928
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Damian Kelleher on December 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Book of Sand has thirteen stories - an accidental or fatal number, the author tells us, but not magical - and they all, more or less, deal with the same theme. While, in each and every story, there is a mystery, an enigma, a puzzle that may or may not be solved, the answer is always the same. Borges wants us to look beyond the artifices of our lives, beyond the linguistic, economic, political and religious restrictions we have given ourselves, and see the world for what it actually is.

One of the - many and varied - literary techniques that Borges uses is that of the literary reference. Always, the narrator uses an obscure reference to better make a point, or to expand the depth of a scene or image, using Tacitus, Sigurd and Brynhild, Ibsen, more. Yet, nestled quietly in between real authors and works are fictional creations, authors that are clever combinations of existing writers, works with titles that are pure fancy. The point that Borges is making is, I believe, that, with the passing of time and the simultaneously corrupting and enhancing efforts of language and culture, it does not matter if these works ever existed or not. To be affected by them it enough, to make a point or drive home an idea is enough. Four hundred years on, invoking the 'fighting windmills' phrase, does it matter if Cervantes ever really existed? Does it matter if I have or have not read the exploits of the man from La Mancha? In Borges world, the answer is no.

In one story, 'Utopia of a Tired Man', Eudoro Acevedo is transplanted from his home in the 20th century, to a place many thousands of years into the future. He meets a man, who explains the fall and rise again of mankind, who reveals the future history until 'now', when everything is different.
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Format: Paperback
The review's title is, of course, a paraphrase of one of the best stories in this collection, one written when Borges was already old and wiser than ever. His wisdom is a disenchanted one, but then again he was never an exactly cheerful writer. His scope is infinite, as he deals not only with far distant lands but also with entirely imaginary ones. One of the most peculiar characteristics of Borges, acutely present in this slim volume, is his constant mixing up of reality with fantasy, of different epochs, and of true and imaginary identities.
The best example of this is the first tale, "The Other", an encounter between the young and the old Borges. Both are sitting on a bench by a river, but the young one is in Geneva in the twenties, while the old is in Cambridge, Mass., in 1969. Their conversation is friendly but distant, and it is simply impossible to read it without imagining what you would say to your younger self if you had a chance to talk to him. All the stories are good -vintage Borges-, but some of my favorites are: "Utopia of a Tired Man", a chilling encounter with a man from the distant future; "The Night of Gifts", a gaucho story of learning about sex and death in a single night; "There are more things" (English title in the original), an homage to H.P. Lovecraft; "The Book of Sand", about an infinite book.
This mature collection is a strong sample of Borges's best qualities: concision, brevity, high-octanage imagination, philosophical profundity without pretentiousness.
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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.

And "The Book of Sand and Shakespeare's Memory" brings together two of Borges' shorter collections, with all sorts of surreal twists in a seemingly ordinary world. These rich, slightly uneasy stories are a shining example of why people enjoy Borges -- magical, rich in language, and poignant in their finality.

Interestingly, two of the stories -- one from each collection -- have strikingly similar stories. "August 25, 1983" has Borges stumbling across an older version of himself, dying as he tells Borges a bit about his future. And "The Other" has Borges at Cambridge, where he accidentally bumps into a younger version of himself, whom he imparts some wisdom to.

But the stories are about far stranger things as well -- a hunt for blue tigers that leads to strangely fascinating stones, an alchemist's rose, a poet telling a king of pure beauty and wonder, receiving the hazy memories of Shakespeare, a book with no ending, the ultimate Word, a creepy religious sect, and even a Lovecraftian homage in which a man comes across grotesque aliens in a remote house.

Good luck finding flaws in this book -- Borges' writing is exquisitely detailed and atmospheric, and densely packed with philosophical pockets. And these stories are magical realism in the purest sense, with a slight, almost mystical twist to the everyday events that we take for granted -- being mistaken for someone else, being sold a book, et cetera.

And Borges wraps these stories in lush, digified prose that takes a little while to wade through, but the richness of the words he uses is worth it ("The sin the two of us now share...
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Format: Hardcover
This collection of fairly late production contains some of the very best Borges stories.
One of my favourite stories is the title story, The book of sand.
The idea of a perpetually changing and endless book is simultaneously both
a great dream and a nightmare for avid readers throughout the world.
Borges' large literary scope - he has read an extraordinary
amount of both well and less known authors- his characteristic
introductory quotations and his extremely compact, precise language
are the main reasons that lead me to do some translations of
his work into Finnish that may have helped to revive an
interest in this incomparable Argentian master over here.
In my opinion, this book is worth not only reading bur re-reading until
the pages turn into powder - or shall we say sand...
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