by Jorge Luis Borges,
Magical realism/Short stories
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Today, I’ll share my thoughts on two stories:
The Garden of Forking Paths
The narrator, a German spy, tries to deliver important information before the possibility of being put to death. He ends up visiting the Garden of Forking Paths, reminiscent of a labyrinth. The designer of the garden was a novelist who thought he did manage to create the perfect labyrinth, as an infinite novel.
It is a complicated story, with a lot of reflection on the present, on time, and fate. And on the structure of the universe, with the possibility of several worlds: parallel or worlds within worlds, for instance the world of an author, or of a reader.
He believed in an infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever spreading network of diverging, converging and parallel times.
The strength of the story is how Borges reflects on all this while writing a satisfying spy story.
It is this last story that gave the title to the first part of this collection.
Funes, the Memorious
The second part of the book, called Artifices, seems to focus even more on the theme of labyrinth. Funes is the first story.
Funes has such an amazing memory that he can only focus on details. To the point of not being able to embrace a concept, like for instance that of a dog. For him, two different dogs are so different in their details, or even the same dog seen from various angles, that they cannot actually be the same reality and called by the same name. This is a fun take and stretch on nominalism. Though Locke (mentioned by the narrator) did try something like that.
To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract.
And a consequence of his hyper attention to details, he is deprived of sleep.
I like the new way of counting he invented, like giving a name to numbers, like Màximo Perez for instance for 7,013.
To go more in depth, check the Course Hero page on this book.
Come back on Monday for my thoughts on next story: The Form of the Sword.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT,
OR OF THIS STORY?
I’ve read “The Garden of Forking Paths” a few times, and every time it blows my mind. The story gives me the feeling that I understand only part of it, that there’s a depth that’s beyond my comprehension. Like a puzzle within a book within a labyrinth within a short story.
“the feeling that I understand only part of it, that there’s a depth that’s beyond my comprehension”. That’s my feeling for about everything he writes, but it is so fascinating, and the little I get is so rich anyway.
Same feeling with a lot of Umberto Eco, and Salman Rushdie
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I haven’t read it, but I’m considering reading it.
Definitely a great author to meet
This sounds fascinating. I’m amazed by what concepts can be delivered with such depth in short stories!
Yes, that’s how you recognize great authors!