Reading Borges’s ‘La biblioteca de Babel’

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It’s been a while since I read Ficciones but with the upcoming presentation at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London in mid-August, I delved into the depth of Borges’s labyrinths.

What’s in there? Was he really a clairvoyant genius? Or was he playing a guessing game? Or are his labyrinthine texts a recreation of other texts, literary or otherwise?

The focus of my paper for the convention is ‘La biblioteca de Babel’ and I’m still not sure what I’m looking for. I’m definitely NOT looking for the ultimate catalogue, since many have tried and failed and many more will try later. I’m definitely NOT counting pages, paragraphs and books, since many have done this much better (see Bloch’s work, for one). And the library’s architecture has been the subject of several excellent studies, so that won’t be it for me, either.

I’m not even sure what attracts me in this story. I’m not sure I even like it all that much. But the black-and-white Escher-like atmosphere is definitely appealing. Ghostly figures of librarians searching for something that they will not find; books that make no sense (by accident or by design), and the endlessness of it all. Very harmonious. Equally disturbing.

2 thoughts on “Reading Borges’s ‘La biblioteca de Babel’

  • hoho888

    Great post! I have a question for you:
    When you’ve finished a book, do you analise it really deeply or do you just skim through it and pluck out all the important information and then move on to another book?

    • Victoria Post author

      Thanks for that!

      To answer your question, I tend to analyse everything I read quite deeply. Sometimes deep analysis shows me things I would not have seen if I had just looked for particular information. Sometimes (if the book is rather dull) I skim through it and go on to another book; then (hopefully) something in the second book will give me an inkling of what to look for in the first book.

      Hope this makes sense. Feel free to ask more questions like this!

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