The Library of Babel – Jorge Luis Borges


“‘The Library of Babel’ is a short story by Argentine author and librarian Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), conceiving of a universe in the form of a vast library containing all possible 410-page books of a certain format and character set. The story was originally published in Spanish in Borges’ 1941 collection of stories El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths). That entire book was, in turn, included within his much-reprinted Ficciones (1944). Two English-language translations appeared approximately simultaneously in 1962, one by James E. Irby in a diverse collection of Borges’s works titled Labyrinths and the other by Anthony Kerrigan as part of a collaborative translation of the entirety of Ficciones. Borges’ narrator describes how his universe consists of an enormous expanse of adjacent hexagonal rooms. In each room, there is an entrance on one wall, the bare necessities for human survival on another wall, and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books are random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just 25 basic characters (22 letters, the period, the comma, and space). Though the vast majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for many of the texts, some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of a vast number of different contents. … Many of Borges’ signature motifs are featured in the story, including infinity, reality, cabalistic reasoning, and labyrinths. The concept of the library is often compared to Borel’s dactylographic monkey theorem. …”
Wikipedia
Open Culture – Visit The Online Library of Babel: New Web Site Turns Borges’ “Library of Babel” Into a Virtual Reality
The Paris Review: The Library of Babel as Seen from Within
[PDF] The Library of Babel

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1 Response to The Library of Babel – Jorge Luis Borges

  1. Reblogged this on dean ramser and commented:
    Jorge Luis Borges is a GREAT writer!!!!

    Like

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