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Jorge Luis Borges. Ficciones.
Bueno Aires: Ediciones Dos Amigos, 1987.
No. 26 of 40 numbered copies.
Folio, 92 leaves
Paper: 33 x 25 cm. Cream colored Arches 160. Deckle edges.
Collation: [1-23]4 (23 gatherings in fours).
Text: single column, 23 x 15 cm. Titles and pagination in red; headings
Type: Bodoni 14
Illustration: 18 colored engravings deeply impressed into versos (rectos
Measurements: 33 x 25 cm; depth at spine 4cm; depth at fore-edge 3cm.
Current enclosure: blue-grey paper wrapper with title in blue, light &
dark greens, grey.
In clam-shell box, as issued.
1 blank page precedes the first printed page and 1 blank page follows
the last printed page.
Etchings are on pages vi, 14, 32, 40, 52, 60, 68, 76, 86, 102, 112, 120,
126, 140, 148, 156, 162, 172.
Bottom and fore-edges always deckle; top deckle sometimes cut, that is,
some bifolia are whole sheets of smaller paper with deckle edge on all
four sides, others are half sheets of larger paper cut so that the
deckle is on fore and bottom only.
First published in 1944, Ficciones includes
seventeen short prose pieces. These remarkable works subvert, often with
gentle humor, our presuppositions about ourselves and our place in the
universe. Largely because of this work, Borges is considered one of the
greatest writers of the twentieth century. Libraries and books play an
important role in many of the tales, and indeed, Borges served as the
Librarian of the National Library of Argentina toward the end of his
life. Ficciones includes animal fables, imaginary encyclopedias,
detective stories, and scholarly commentaries on nonexistent books. Are
they short stories, parables, or morality tales? In both form and
content, Borges challenges the very notion of genre. Each piece is
introduced by a Prologue, a brief and playful explication for the
uninitiated into the ironic genius of Borges’s imagination. Borges was
brought to the attention of the international literary community in 1971
when he shared the prestigious Formentor Prize with another literary
giant, Samuel Beckett. Since then, Borges's reputation has only grown;
today he is more widely read than ever before, and is often acknowledged
as the greatest 20th century Spanish-language writer. The book Ficciones
was named one of the New York Library’s Books of the Century in 2000.
The Ediciones Dos Amigos edition was begun on 9 August 1984 and
completed 31 December 1987. Samuel César Palui oversaw the edition and
signed all 42 copies. This is copy 26 from the private collection of the
press’s publisher Ernesto Lowenstein.
A book is not an isolated being: it is
a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.”
—Jorge Luis Borges
1. Grove Press, 1962, ISBN 0802130305; Paperback $13.00. Translated by
Anthony Kerrigan, Anthony Bonner, Alastair Reid, Helen Temple, and
2. Alfred A. Knopf, 1993, ISBN 0-679-42299-4; Hardcover $17.00.
“Everyman’s Library” edition.
3. Collected Fictions: Ficciones. Viking, 1999, ISBN 0-14-028680-2;
Paperback $16.95. Translated by Andrew Hurley.
Generally considered to be Borges’s masterpiece, Ficciones is a
collection of seventeen original short stories. (Although the title
means “Fictions,” it is always called “Ficciones” in English.) First
published as a single volume in 1944, the book is divided into two
sections: “The Garden of Forking Paths,” which was originally published
in 1941, and the later “Artifices.” Although the stories of the earlier
section are generally longer and somewhat more fantastical than those of
the later section, all of Ficciones explores the labyrinthine nature of
reality and the impact of language on literature, philosophy,
metaphysics, and theology. Many stories are concerned with imaginary
books penned by fictional authors, and more than a few engage in flights
of meta-reality where reality and fiction are seamlessly intertwined.
The contents are given below, with the original Grove Press titles:
THE GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS (8 stories)
“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”– A reference to an imaginary country leads
the author deeper into a different linguistic reality.
“The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim” – A review of a work of detective fiction
concerned with the quest for an unreal person.
“Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote” – Borges explains why Menard’s
twentieth century (but identical) Quixote is superior to that of
“The Circular Ruins” – A mystic visionary attempts to dream a human into
“The Babylon Lottery” – The history of a society ruled by the random,
invisible, and godlike Company.
“An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain” – Reviews of three strange
pieces of fiction by a very unusual author.
“The Library of Babel” – The tale of a man, perhaps Borges himself, a
caretaker in the Library of infinity.
“The Garden of Forking Paths” – A unique spy story about an impossible
book and a mythical labyrinth.
ARTIFICES (9 Stories)
“Funes, the Memorius” – A nineteen year old invalid reveals that
language is an inadequate tool for those who can forget nothing.
“The Form of the Sword” – The tale of an Irish expatriate and the scar
on his face.
“Theme of the Traitor and Hero” – When history repeats literature,
looking deeper often reveals the hand of hidden forces.
“Death and the Compass” – A detective story in which the ineffable name
of God is the principal clue.
“The Secret Miracle” – A writer’s last days under a Nazi death sentence.
“Three Versions of Judas” – A “review” of the work of Nils Runeberg, a
modern heresiarch, and his views on the nature of Judas Iscariot.
“The End” – A completion of José Hernández’ great folk poem about Martín
“The Sect of the Phoenix” – The sectarians are a cult that have survived
the ages, judiciously keeping the Secret which unites them.
“The South” – In this semi-autobiographical tale, a copy of the Thousand
and One Nights precipitates the strange sickness of an Argentine