19 votes

Did Borges invent the idea of writing reviews/summaries of imaginary literary works?

No he did not! The process can be traced back at least to Thomas Carlyle, who in Sartor Resartus (1833–34) publishes a summary and a critique, à la Borges, of the fictional book Clothes, Their Origin ...
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  • 1,818
13 votes
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Did Stevenson really claim to have been inspired by brownies?

Yep. Stevenson writes in his A Chapter on Dreams, which you can see a book scan at that link, and a text version at Project Gutenburg: Well, as regards the dreamer, I can answer that, for he is no ...
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  • 19.1k
11 votes
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How do people eat in "The Library of Babel"?

Like many of Borges's tales, The Library of Babel is meant more as a thought experiment than a realistic story. Don't overthink it. There's no mention anywhere in the story of any of various ...
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  • 63.1k
11 votes
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How do real-world languages exist in "The Library of Babel"?

Remember that the Library is infinite and complete: the Library is "total" - perfect, complete, and whole - and that its bookshelves contain all possible combinations of the twenty-two orthographic ...
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  • 63.1k
11 votes
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In "The Library of Babel" is the "cyclical book" really God?

You are bringing the first quote a little out of context: The idealists argue that the hexagonal rooms are a necessary from of absolute space or, at least, of our intuition of space. They reason ...
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  • 2,980
10 votes
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What does the "crimson hexagon" represent in "The Library of Babel"?

A central concern of The Library of Babel -- and particularly this section of it -- is the search for order and meaning within a chaotic world. In this passage, Borges introduces the Purifiers; those ...
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  • 2,980
9 votes

How do real-world languages exist in "The Library of Babel"?

The Library of Babel cannot be taken as plausible, realistic worldbuilding. "How can real-world languages exist" is not going to have more of an answer than "How does an immense number of bound books ...
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  • 2,980
8 votes
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What is the significance/symbolism of the hexagon in "The Library of Babel"?

Hexagons are a natural pattern found in various orderly structures in nature: for example, the cells of a beehive, or the columns of the Giant's Causeway. By making his Library a hexagonal ...
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8 votes
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What does Jorge Luis Borges mean by the library being infinite in "The Library of Babel"?

There are several options -- which makes sense, as this is a story which explores the idea of infinity. The Library is spherical Immediately following the line "I say that the Library is unending", ...
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  • 2,980
7 votes

Is there any deeper significance to Borges's "The South"?

Note that has outlined by Beastly Gerbil, the protagonist is living through events based on Borges's on life: in his novel, the protagonist hits a recently painted door jamb, while in his ...
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  • 1,818
7 votes

Is there any deeper significance to Borges's "The South"?

While this does not answer the significance of the entire book, it focuses on a few key points. The story is actually partially autobiographical. In his early life, Borges worked in a library. In ...
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5 votes

Is there any deeper significance to the Borges story "The End"?

Thank you for asking this question! (Not least because I am itinerant and my Borges is all in boxes, but your question led me to this collected stories of Borges in pdf, which will provide ℵ value on ...
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  • 3,940
4 votes
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1955 in Otro poema de los dones by Jorge Luis Borges

I assume it is indeed a historical reference. The year 1955 was double relevant to Borges: He had been an anti-Peronist [1], so he welcomed the Revolución Libertadora of 16 September 1955. In fact, ...
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  • 38.1k
4 votes

What is the language spoken in Babylon?

As others have said, it's Hebrew. In academic/formal/archaic/Tiberian pronunciation, six of the Hebrew phonemes /b g d k p t/ can be realized in two different ways. When between vowels and not ...
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  • 141
4 votes
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Did Borges invent the idea of writing reviews/summaries of imaginary literary works?

Sartor Resartus was written in 1836. There are examples of earlier imaginaries dating back to John Donne and Rabelais. Donne's The Courtier's Library (1650), is a catalogue of 34 apocryphal works ...
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  • 355
4 votes
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Is there any deeper significance to the Borges story "The End"?

It turns out Recabarren was a political figure in Chile who was imprisoned for 8 months. As you will recall, the setting of the story is in Latin America. The loss of voice could be a reference to ...
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  • 3,940
3 votes

What does Jorge Luis Borges mean by the library being infinite in "The Library of Babel"?

It's periodic. This is directly answered in the text, at the very end of the story: I have just written the word "infinite". I have not included that adjective out of mere rhetorical habit; I ...
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  • 63.1k
3 votes

How do people eat in "The Library of Babel"?

You don't eat in the library. You'd get the books messy. The library here is intended to evoke a university library, where scholars toil away their lives searching for some snippet of information. ...
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  • 4,878
3 votes

What is the significance/symbolism of the Cyclical book being cyclical in "The Library of Babel"?

In his essay on Pascal's sphere, which relates to several of the themes of "The Library Of Babel", Borges also notes the fixation certain mystics had on picturing God as an infinite sphere whose ...
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  • 373
3 votes
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"The impostor magician Smerdis" from Borges

Smerdis was a magian. For example, the book Darius the Great by Jacob Abbott (freely available online e.g. here and here) has a chapter entitled "Smerdis the Magian", and the journal article Arno ...
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  • 63.1k
3 votes

In "The South" by Jorge Luis Borges, what is the significance of the cat?

Every time I read the story I find new meaning, and I suspect I will always feel as thought I am missing more than I am recognizing (the magic of Borges!) Without going into it too deeply: ...
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  • 3,940
2 votes

What is the language spoken in Babylon?

It is Hebrew. Hebrew letters have Hebrew names, written in Hebrew. Our transliteration into Latin alphabet is a convention and those can change, different authors may use different conventions for ...
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  • 121
1 vote

Are hexagons directly connected to each other?

From a strictly geometrical perspective, any side of a hexagon can only connect to another single hexagon: Tiling patterns have a very ancient history, and Borges was no doubt drawing on this. The ...
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  • 3,940

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