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El primero de los cuentos reunidos aqu retoma el tema del doble los protagonistas de El otro son lo bastante distintos para ser dos y lo bastante parecidos para ser uno Ulrica es la historia de un amor ef mero El Congreso describe una empresa tan vasta que se confunde con el cosmos y con la suma de los d as Undr y El espejo y la m scara son relatos sobre literaturas seculares que constan de una sola palabra, mientras que otras piezas imaginan objetos inconcebibles como un libro de infinitas p ginas un volumen impredecible y a la vez monstruoso el libro de arena. In this short story, you can find a Scotsman, a discussion on bibliophilism and on a not very famous but known to every reader feeling that some books take over your soul I had books like the book of sand in my life Some I had to stop for a period They took over too much of my imagination and of my life too if I m honest I loved those books and felt sad when I finished it This story is about these feelings You should read it It s so small And so significant, it could only be the seminal work of Jorge Luis Borges He s a gem 5 stars. Aesthetic experience is extraordinary in the sense that it is always ours alone, uniquely ours And some aesthetic experiences hit us right between the eyes with a knockout punch these are encounters we will never forget One such encounter was my reading this collection of stories by Jorge Luis Borges some thirty years ago The images of the book of sand with its infinite pages, the hermit looking for a one sided disk, an author s pristine lovemaking with a beautiful woman for me, all aesthetic knockout punches I would encourage anybody who would like to expand their horizons, expand their inner universe, and exercise their imagination to pick up and read this most wonderful collection As a way of providing a sample, here are my top ten questions on the title story The Book of Sand And below my questions, the actual story.1 In what way or ways can any short work of fiction be true 2 What would be your initial thought and feeling if someone handed you the book of sand 3 What book in your personal library would you trade for the book of sand 4 Is the book of sand a metaphor for all great works of literature in the sense those works have no end or bottom 5 What book comes to mind for you as one where the you reread, the question arise 6 Are all works of literature infinite since they expand in different directions each time they are read by a different reader 7 Are you inextricably bound to a certain book, or, in other words, is there any book holding you as prisoner 8 What is it about certain books that they refuse to be mastered by anybody 9 Would you feel uneasy owning the book of sand 10 Where would you hide the book of sand if you never wanted the book to be discovered THE BOOK OF SAND by Jorge Luis Borges The line is made up of an infinite number of points the plane of an infinite number of lines the volume of an infinite number of planes the hypervolume of an infinite number of volumes No, unquestionably this is not geometrico the best way of beginning my story To claim that is it true is nowadays the convention of every made up story Mine, however, is true I live alone in a fourth floor apartment on Belgrano Street, in Buenos Aires Late one evening, a few months back, I heard a knock at my door I opened it and a stranger stood there He was a tall man, with nondescript features or perhaps it was my myopia that made them seem that way Dressed in gray and carrying a gray suitcase in his hand, he had an unassuming look about him I saw at once that he was a foreigner At first, he struck me as old only later did I realize that I had been misled by his thin blond hair, which was, in a Scandinavian sort of way, almost white During the course of our conversation, which was not to last an hour, I found out that he came from the Orkneys I invited him in, pointing to a chair He paused awhile before speaking A kind of gloom emanated from him as it does now from me I sell Bibles, he said Somewhat pedantically, I replied, In this house are several English Bibles, including the first John Wiclif s I also have Cipriano de Valera s, Luther s which, from a literary viewpoint, is the worst and a Latin copy of the Vulgate As you see, it s not exactly Bibles I stand in need of After a few moments of silence, he said, I don t only sell Bibles I can show you a holy book I came across on the outskirts of Bikaner It may interest you He opened the suitcase and laid the book on a table It was an octavo volume, bound in cloth There was no doubt that it had passed through many hands Examining it, I was surprised by its unusual weight On the spine were the words Holy Writ and, below them, Bombay Nineteenth century, probably, I remarked I don t know, he said I ve never found out I opened the book at random The script was strange to me The pages, which were worn and typographically poor, were laid out in a double column, as in a Bible The text was closely printed, and it was ordered in versicles In the upper corners of the pages were Arabic numbers I noticed that one left hand page bore the number let us say 40,514 and the facing right hand page 999 I turned the leaf it was numbered with eight digits It also bore a small illustration, like the kind used in dictionaries an anchor drawn with pen and ink, as if by a schoolboy s clumsy hand It was at this point that the stranger said, Look at the illustration closely You ll never see it again I noted my place and closed the book At once, I reopened it Page by page, in vain, I looked for the illustration of the anchor It seems to be a version of Scriptures in some Indian language, is it not I said to hide my dismay No, he replied Then, as if confiding a secret, he lowered his voice I acquired the book in a town out on the plain in exchange for a handful of rupees and a Bible Its owner did not know how to read I suspect that he saw the Book of Books as a talisman He was of the lowest caste nobody but other untouchables could tread his shadow without contamination He told me his book was called the Book of Sand, because neither the book nor the sand has any beginning or end The stranger asked me to find the first page I laid my left hand on the cover and, trying to put my thumb on the flyleaf, I opened the book It was useless Every time I tried, a number of pages came between the cover and my thumb It was as if they kept growing from the book Now find the last page Again I failed In a voice that was not mine, I barely managed to stammer, This can t be Still speaking in a low voice, the stranger said, It can t be, but it is The number of pages in this book is no or less than infinite None is the first page, none the last I don t know why they re numbered in this arbitrary way Perhaps to suggest that the terms of an infinite series admit any number Then, as if he were thinking aloud, he said, If space is infinite, we may be at any point in space If time is infinite, we may be at any point in time His speculations irritated me You are religious, no doubt I asked him Yes, I m a Presbyterian My conscience is clear I am reasonably sure of not having cheated the native when I gave him the Word of God in exchange for his devilish book I assured him that he had nothing to reproach himself for, and I asked if he were just passing through this part of the world He replied that he planned to return to his country in a few days It was then that I learned that he was a Scot from the Orkney Islands I told him I had a great personal affection for Scotland, through my love of Stevenson and Hume You mean Stevenson and Robbie Burns, he corrected While we spoke, I kept exploring the infinite book With feigned indifference, I asked, Do you intend to offer this curiosity to the British Museum No I m offering it to you, he said, and he stipulated a rather high sum for the book I answered, in all truthfulness, that such a sum was out of my reach, and I began thinking After a minute or two, I came up with a scheme I propose a swap, I said You got this book for a handful of rupees and a copy of the Bible I ll offer you the amount of my pension check, which I ve just collected, and my black letter Wiclif Bible I inherited it from my ancestors A black letter Wiclif he murmured I went to my bedroom and brought him the money and the book He turned the leaves and studied the title page with all the fervor of a true bibliophile It s a deal, he said It amazed me that he did not haggle Only later was I to realize that he had entered my house with his mind made up to sell the book Without counting the money, he put it away We talked about India, about Orkney, and about the Norwegian jarls who once ruled it It was night when the man left I have not seen him again, nor do I know his name I thought of keeping the Book of Sand in the space left on the shelf by the Wiclif, but in the end I decided to hide it behind the volumes of a broken set of The Thousand and One Nights I went to bed and did not sleep At three or four in the morning, I turned on the light I got down the impossible book and leafed through its pages On one of them I saw engraved a mask The upper corner of the page carried a number, which I no longer recall, elevated to the ninth power I showed no one my treasure To the luck of owning it was added the fear of having it stolen, and then the misgiving that it might not truly be infinite These twin preoccupations intensified my old misanthropy I had only a few friends left I now stopped seeing even them A prisoner of the book, I almost never went out any After studying its frayed spine and covers with a magnifying glass, I rejected the possibility of a contrivance of any sort The small illustrations, I verified, came two thousand pages apart I set about listing them alphabetically in a notebook, which I was not long in filling up Never once was an illustration repeated At night, in the meager intervals my insomnia granted, I dreamed of the book Summer came and went, and I realized that the book was monstrous What good did it do me to think that I, who looked upon the volume with my eyes, who held it in my hands, was any less monstrous I felt that the book was a nightmarish object, an obscene thing that affronted and tainted reality itself I thought of fire, but I feared that the burning of an infinite book might likewise prove infinite and suffocate the planet with smoke Somewhere I recalled reading that the best place to hide a leaf is in a forest Before retirement, I worked on Mexico Street, at the Argentine National Library, which contains nine hundred thousand volumes I knew that to the right of the entrance a curved staircase leads down into the basement, where books and maps and periodicals are kept One day I went there and, slipping past a member of the staff and trying not to notice at what height or distance from the door, I lost the Book of Sand on one of the basement s musty shelves. This is one of Borges last books, and many of the pieces here are less than his best The Congress, however, is a tale of the microcosm as powerful and effective as The Aleph, and The Book of Sand is also one of Borge s finest stories The Sect of Thirty is an excellent short piece, and the theological implications of this account of heresy are both disturbing and illuminating Don t expect too much, and you will enjoy watching an old master at work. There s something really sensory and textured about JLB s fiction writing Reading his work always invokes the distinct smell of dusty leather bound books, the creaking sounds of flawed wood floors lightly tread upon by anonymous figures in the corridors of giant, empty houses, the odors of burnt coffee and blackened toast, a wind gust through a broken and off kilter porch chime A little stuffy at times, but in that charming, quirky professor sort of way, the one who always wore mod colored tweed, smelled like shoe polish and mothballs, and would incessantly, delicately blow his nose with an actual silk handkerchief This is what I find most immediately appealing about Borges I can not only read and enjoy his stories, but see them, detect their various scents, feel the ambient temperature of the room, hear the distant, inconsequential noises inside them He manages to use a light hand to paint great detail.Unlike the compilation Labyrinths with its pockets of occasionally dense hinting at impenetrable storylines, The Book of Sand finds Borges wholly in his later years, the retired Gentleman, spinning fantastical tales of dreamlike scenarios involving a dozen different manifestations of the aging author, looking back on love, nightmares, hallucinations, goals both met and shamefully forgotten, and literary and spiritual worlds invoked at various points throughout his conscious awareness Of my favorite stories in the collection, the majority were arguably a little bit Lynchian in their not quite placeable eeriness In fact, both There Are More Things with its surreal and terrifyingly barren setting and A Weary Man s Utopia with its spooky ooky wise man frozen in time are downright Black Lodge y in the best of ways.Another gems is The Other which deals with a young Borges coming face to face with the older version of himself, or vice versa, or both, or who is really the conscious one here and is now actually now or some other time , etc You know, Borges stuff Others deal with sacred manuscripts and elusive texts, secret or alien societies, rare artifacts with magical powers, mythologies re embraced and mutated, High Literature, dead languagesyou know, other Borges stuff Ulrikke is a gorgeous ode to both the fleeting nature of passion and the echoing impact people can have on you through even brief entanglements or maybe it s just Borges trying to romanticize one night stands and was probably the most emotionally potent for little old me, personally, as someone who has lost a lot of people over the years in a number of ways I think there is something here for everyone, though, assuming they have even the tiniest bit of imagination and human emotions Book not for robot.A short, visceral, and subconscious strumming collection Even if you don t like the stories, you ll definitely at least be able to smell them, and they may continue to sneak into your head at night for some time afterward.