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"...it is clear that there is no classification of the Universe not being arbitrary and full of conjectures. The reason for this is very simple: we do not know what thing the universe is."
—"The Analytical Language of John Wilkins"

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) is considered the greatest Argentine writer of the twentieth century and an immensely influential author. His short stories, essays and poetry blend truth and fiction in unexpected ways, playing Mind Screws on the reader at every turn, and exploring deep philosophical themes (idealism, determinism, infinity, the search for personal identity, fiction vs. reality, humanity vs. divinity...) in a rigorous but entertaining way. He is considered an important precursor and originator of many Post Modernism devices. Borges himself was an Ultraist, a short lived movement that originated in early XX century Spain (where Borges arrived around 1920).

Borges became blind due to an inherited disease in his middle age and blindness is a recurring Motifs in his later works. Other common motifs are labyrinths, mirrors, libraries, tigers, and daggers. The blind monk Jorge de Burgos in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose is one allusion to Borges. The blind librarian in The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe may be another.

Some of his best known short stories (Borges didn't write any novels) are:

The other half of his stories are about South Americans knife fighting, such as "The South".

This author's works provide examples of:

  There are no decent words to name it, but it is understood that all words name it or rather inevitably allude to it, and so in a conversation I said anything and the adepts smile or become uncomfortable, because they felt that I had touched the Secret.

  • Library of Babel: The Trope Namer, as mentioned above.
  • Lured Into a Trap: In "Death and the Compass", the entire Connect the Deaths plot is bait to lure the detective to a location where his enemy can kill him.
  • Magic Realism: many of his stories are in this genre, and he was part of the so-called "Latin American Boom" that helped popularize it.
    • Arguably, he's also one of the founders of it and by far one of the most well known, along with Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • Meaningful Name: Plenty, often combined with Shout-Out. For example, Carlos Argentino Daneri in "The Aleph" is a play on Dante Alighieri (his sister is called Beatriz), and Pedro Damián in "The Other Death" references medieval philosopher Pier Damiani, as lampshaded in the story itself.
  • Mind Screw: Where to start?
    • Special mention goes to "The Search of Averroes". In it, an Arabian professor investigates a Greek translation and ponders the meaning of "drama" and "comedy", which he can't understand becasue he lives in a culture in which the art of perfomance doesn't exist. After hearing with some guests a story about China and the performers that live in there and completely misses the point about the whole "acting" thing he starts meditating and eventually has a sudden realization about the meaning of "drama" and "comedy", which turns out to be wrong. He then disappears, as do his house and all those that were in there without leaving a trace. Borges then explains within the story that he himself had to understand Averroes to write the story, and like Averroes, had no real chance of doing so. The writer, could no longer believe in Averroes as a character and he naturally disappeared completely along with his house.
  • Mortality Ensues: The protagonist of "The Immortal" finds a river that makes anyone who drinks from it immortal; after around a thousand years he gets bored and goes off in an ultimately successful search for a hypothetical sister river that will make him mortal again.
  • Motive Misidentification: "The death and the Compass": Great Detective thinks the Diabolical Mastermind is looking for a Magical Incantation. The real Evil Plan is more sinister (and logical).
  • No Ending: "Averroe's Search" ends with all the characters and his surroundings suddenly disappearing, except maybe the Guadalquivir River.
  • Nonsense Classification: His fake chinese encyclopedia Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, with its classification of animals: (a) those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's-hair brush; (l) etcetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that at a distance resemble flies.
  • Perspective Flip: "The House of Asterion", in which the narrator tells us of his strange life in his strange house; upon reaching the end we realize that the narrator is the Minotaur and the house is the Labyrinth. (Well, the reader realizes it about halfway through if he's conversant with ancient mythology.)
    • And a story sketched in "The Zahir," whose protagonist is an ascetic living in isolation in a wasteland called gnittaheidr, guarding a huge treasure to protect lesser men from the temptation it causes (including his own father, whom he killed). in the end, it turns out the protagonist is Fafnir, who was turned into a giant serpent by the Ring of the Niebelungen and slain by Siegfried.
  • Pirate Girl: "The Widow Ching, Lady Pirate"
  • The Plan: "Death and the Compass"; "The Dead Man".
  • Pop Culture Isolation: In-Universe example meets Truth in Television in "Averroe's Search" : Averroes, an Islamic philosopher, never could understand the terms tragedy and comedy.
  • Post Modernism.
  • Photographic Memory: The titular character of "Funes the Memorious". The story also deconstructs it.
  • Reality Warper: "The Circular Ruins"
  • Recursive Reality: "Averroe's Search" : In the last page, Borges realizes that he has broke the Stable Fictional Loop and incurred in an Ontological Paradox

  I felt, on the last page, that my narration was a symbol of the man I was as I wrote it and that, in order to compose that narration, I had to be that man and, in order to be that man, I had to compose that narration, and so on to infinity.

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