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Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

A collection of translated short stories, essays and (very) short parables by one of the leading Latin American writers.  The essays and parables I found hard to read and uninteresting.  It looks as if they were just included as padding, or else for reasons of completeness. However, the short stories are marvellous, almost little nightmares; some (eg: The Immortal, and The Circular Ruins) have the atmosphere of paintings by Beksinski, others are steeped in cabbalism, and arcane philosophy and theology.  The Library of Babel and The Lottery in Babylon remind me of Olaf Stapledon's Starmaker in their  scale, but what took Stapledon 250 pages to do, Borges does just as effectively in less than 10.  I am also sure that Umberto Eco must have been influenced by Borges cabbalistic stories when he came to write Foucault's Pendulum.

On the whole, Borges gives the distinct impression of having spent too much time in dusty old libraries, but I am glad that he did, and I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for any more of his short stories.

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