Ficciones  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Ficciones is the most popular collection of short stories by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges, often considered the best introduction to his work. Ficciones should not be confused with Labyrinths, although they have much in common. Labyrinths is a separate translation of Borges's material into English, by James E. Irby, that, like the translation into English of Ficciones, appeared in 1962. Together, these two translations led to much of Borges's worldwide fame in the 1960s. Several stories appear in both volumes. "The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim" appeared originally in History of Eternity (1936).

Contents

Background

Publication

In 1941, Borges's second collection of fiction, The Garden of Forking Paths (El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan) was published. It contained eight stories. In 1944, a new section labeled Artifices, containing six stories, was added to the eight of The Garden of Forking Paths. These were given the collective title Ficciones. Borges added three more stories to the Artifices section in the 1956 edition.

Translation

In 1948, the story "The Garden of Forking Paths" was translated into English by Anthony Boucher and published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

In 1962, an English translation of Ficciones was published by Grove Press. Edited and introduced by Anthony Kerrigan, the other translators were Anthony Bonner, Alastair Reid, Helen Temple, and Ruthven Todd.

Contents

Style

Ficciones emphasizes and calls attention to its fictional nature. The choice and use of literary devices are conspicuous in the stories. Naomi Lindstrom explains that Borges saw an effort to make a story appear natural "as an impoverishment of fiction's possibilities and falsification of its artistic character."

Themes

The labyrinth is a recurring motif throughout the stories. It is used as a metaphor to represent a variety of things: the overwhelmingly complex nature of worlds and the systems that exist on them, human enterprises, the physical and mental aspects of humans, and abstract concepts such as time. The stories of Borges can be seen as a type of labyrinth themselves.

Borges often gives his first-person narrators the name "Borges." While he imparts many of his own characteristics in them, he does not idealize them, and gives them human failings as well.

English phrases appear intermittently in his Spanish stories. Occasionally, the title is in English.

Borges often puts his protagonists in red enclosures. This has led to analysis of his stories from a Freudian viewpoint, although Borges himself strongly disliked his work being interpreted in such a way. In fact, he called psychoanalysis (Obra poética, Prólogo) "la triste mitología de nuestro tiempo", or "the sad mythology of our time".

Borges loved books and gives detailed descriptions of the characteristics of the fictional texts in his stories. In The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim, he indirectly suggests that a librarian is even holier than a saint.

Other themes throughout his stories include: philosophical issues; deterioration and ruination; games of strategy and chance; conspiracies and secret societies; and ethnic groups, especially those in his own ancestry.

Reception

Ficciones is one of Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ficciones" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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