Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges: Book Review

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Cover of Labyringths by Jorge Luis Borges

2 Stars

Um, I think I missed something.

This book’s average rating on GoodReads is 4.47 as I write this and I’m rating it 2 stars. Where did I go wrong?

It’s been a while since I finished so I won’t be able to get too specific.

First of all, I didn’t particularly care for the writing style. Something about his writing reminded me of H. P. Lovecraft, who I also don’t fully appreciate, so that was a negative. I found it to be a little…overwrought at times. I don’t think it was the translation because there were many translators throughout the collection and the style was pretty consistent. And then I think Borges is just way too smart for me.

I could see that there was all this philosophical stuff going on in the subtext of his writing, but I didn’t care enough to stop and think about it and try to figure out what he was really saying. I was just trying to wrap my head around a world that was created in imagination and then starts to slowly creep into the real world. Or trying to determine which of two characters was the dreamer and which was the dreamed. Or were they the same? And why did this head injury leave this character with a Phenomenon-like memory and intelligence? And what the heck is the point of trying to see if you can perfectly re-write Don Quixote by accident? And if I lived in a never-ending library, would I seriously spend all my time searching for the one book with the answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything (Thanks, Douglas Adams) or would I just sit down with the books I had and leave others to the searching? I think my reaction to this book answers that last question.

I just didn’t get it.

Maybe if I had taken everything at face value I would have been happier with the book as a whole. It was just so obvious that there were so many layers of meaning in Borges’s writing that I wasn’t able to do that.

I’m obviously in the minority so don’t let me turn you off. If you’re interested, go ahead and give it a try. I’d like someone to explain what I missed.

Read an excerpt from one of the stories, “The Library of Babel.”

Buy Labyrinths at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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1 Comment

  1. I hate the feeling that a writer is too smart for me 🙁 With some authors I have the feeling people give a high mark almost because of the author's reputation and that if you don't that might make you look stupid or something 😛

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