‘The Library of Babel’, by Jorge Luis Borges

I do also have to have Borges in here. His stories are undoubtedly some of the most important pieces of literature of the twentieth century. I could have chosen any of them – I’m not sure there is any other writer of whom I can say that I have read as much as I can find, and never yet encountered a dud. They are jewels, little reflective, magical worlds that shatter as you read them. I could choose any, so I’ve gone for the one that is emblematic of the whole project – the labyrinthine Library of Babel. It is a game, a philosophical exploration, and a surprisingly straight bit of science fiction fantasy.

First published in Spanish as ‘La biblioteca de Babel’ in El jardín de los senderos que se bifurcan, Sur, 1941. First published in English in Labyrinths, New Directions, 1962, and Fictions, Grove Press, 1962

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