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The Library of Babel (Pocket Paragon)
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The Library of Babel (Pocket Paragon) (Hardcover)
by Jorge Luis Borges (Author), Erik Desmazieres (Author), Andrew Hurley (Translator), Angela Giral (Author) "THE UNIVERSE (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries..." (more)
  4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews (8 customer reviews)  


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Editorial Reviews
Language Notes
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 36 pages
  • Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher (August 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156792123X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567921236
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Sales Rank: #430,393 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

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Inside This Book (learn more)
First Sentence:
THE UNIVERSE (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews
8 Reviews
5 star: 75%  (6)
4 star: 12%  (1)
3 star: 12%  (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful marriage of storytelling and visual art, July 13, 2001
By Michael J. Mazza (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
"The Library of Babel" is one of the most memorable stories by the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. This slim book contains Andrew Hurley's English translation of the story, eleven illustrations by Erik Desmazieres, and an introduction by Angela Giral.

"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.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book...But Thin Value, May 20, 2007
By Wildness (Colorado Plateau) - See all my reviews
Let me start of by saying that the artwork of Erik Desmazieres in this nicely designed little hardcover is fantastic! His images captured the essence of what a library containing all of the knowledge of mankind would be - I wanted to be there perusing the shelves, absorbing the information.

But in the end, this an attractive, well designed hardcover of a short story, so I question its value to anyone but the collector of Borges' work. With this book, I am new to reading Borges, and I plan to read more of his work; and if I had encountered this story in his collection of short stories, I would have smiled at the end and thought "interesting filler story". But, I didn't read it in the collection, I read it in this beautiful book and thus feel that it didn't rate its own standalone volume.

Yes, the story is creative; but maybe I am dense or something as I didn't find it all that profound. I did pick up a few metaphors I could relate to, but, from the forward, I was really expecting some kind of mind blowing, thought-expanding experience; but, in the end, it turned out to be a quick read before bed of a book I won't keep.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of modern publishing, April 21, 2001
By Peter Jennings (Canberra, A.C.T. Australia) - See all my reviews
Bibliophiles will be drawn to this wonderful little volume combining fine writing, fascinating artists engravings and top quality book production. Borges' meditation on the library of Babel - an infinite universe of hexagonal galleries containing every possible book - provides a metaphor for thinking about knowledge and truth. While only a few thousand words long, Borges' story draws the reader into a world both deeply familiar and utterly surreal. His descriptions of how people have searched for the ultimate truth, to be found (they imagine) in a volume somewhere on the endless library shelves, makes for an unsettling parable.

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.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for Borges Fans
"The Library of Babel" is Jorge Luis Borges' take on an astounding library that contains every possible volume, of a given size and number of pages, that can be printed with a... Read more
Published on September 17, 2005 by Eric Halsey

5.0 out of 5 stars Books Omnipotent, Illustrated and Magical
"The Library of Babel" is one of Borges' finest short fictions -- a meditation on the possible, the infinite, the nature of hope and the creation of meaning. Read more
Published on January 1, 2003 by krchicago

5.0 out of 5 stars Borges Magic
This unique compelling story is beautifully supported by the remarkable illustrations. Borges in any format is worth time and reflection as he leads you through his wonderful... Read more
Published on August 27, 2002 by Barry Wiley

4.0 out of 5 stars Borges for Beginners
Jorge Borges, (1899-1986) was born in Beunos Aires and educated in Geneva, and was a prominent figure in the avant-garde Ultraist movement in the late teens and early 1920's. Read more
Published on May 16, 2002 by Jeffrey Gillespie

5.0 out of 5 stars A great blend of illustration and poetics
This brief--but beautiful--volume brings artistic splendor to Borges's vision of the endless library. The etchings here, by a French artist, are stunning and illuminating. Read more
Published on November 18, 2000

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