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Eliot Weinberger's collection of Borges' non-fiction, Selected Non-Fiction, contains two remarkable lists of books and stories 'The Library of Babel', and 'A Personal Library'. Weinberger describes 'The Library of Babel' as "a series of short volumes of fantastic tales, each selected and introduced by Borges, and published by Ediciones Sirula in Spain from 1978 to 1986. None of these prologues has been reprinted. They are not in the 'Complete Works'.

The Libary of Babel

01. London, Jack

The Concentric Deaths.

Since there seems to be no story or novel by that name by London, I can only assume the title is Borges' own. In his prologue to London (included by Weinberger in 'Selected Non-Fiction') he writes:

For this volume we have chosen five stories that are further proof of his effectiveness and variety. Only towards the end of 'The House of Mapuhi' does the reader realize who the true protagonist is; 'The Law of Life' presents us with an atrocious destiny, accepted by all with naturalness and also almost with innocence; 'Lost Face' is the salvation of a man under torture by a terrible artiface; 'The Minions of Midas' details the pitiless methods of a group of anarchists; 'The Shadow and the Flash' renews and enriches and old motif in literature: the possibility of being invisible.

While looking for the London stories Borges mentions I found this one: 'A Thousand Deaths'

The Law of Life reminds me a lot of Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro which William Burroughs once described as the Hemingway's best story (listen too to Burroughs variation on Kilimanjaro: 'After-Dinner Conversation / Where He was Going' on 'Dead City Radio')

02. Borges, Jorge Luis

August 25, 1983.

03. Meyrink, Gustav

Cardinal Nappellus

German title: Der Kardinal Napellus. Novella?

04. Bloy, Léon

Discourteous Tales.

05. Papini, Giovanni

The Escaping Mirror.

(Italian Futurist. 1881-1956)

06. Wilde, Oscar

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime: A Study of Duty. 1887

Short story. Online here.

07. De l'Lisle-Adam, Villiers

The Guests at the Last Banquets.

08. De Alarcón, Pedro

The Friend of Death: A Fantastic Tale. 1852.

Spanish author (1833-1891). Spanish title: 'El Amigo de la Muerte'

Translated from the Spanish by Mary J. Serrano in 1891 (considered the best translation).

Also published (the preceding year) as The Strange Friend of Tito Gil.

"Phantasmagorical short novel of suicide's pact with Death, historic setting in eighteenth century Spain shifts at conclusion to year 2316 and the end of the world. Peculiar juxtaposition of folklore motifs with cosmological overview nonetheless effective. Author better known for psychological ghost story 'The Tall Woman.'" -- Robert Knowlton.

09. Melville, Herman

Bartlby the Schrivener.

11. Wells, H. G.

The Door in the Wall. 1906.

Short story. Online here.

16. Cazotte, Jacques

The Devil in Love.

17. Kafka, Frans

The Vulture.

Short story.

A vulture was hacking at my feet. It had already torn my boots and stockings to shreds, now it was hacking at the feet themselves. Again and again it struck at them, then circled several times restlessly round me, then returned to continue its work. A gentleman passed by, looked on for a while, then asked me why I suffered the vulture. "I'm helpless," I said. "When it came and began to attack me, I of course tried to drive it away, even to strangle it, but these animals are very strong, it was about to spring at my face, but I preferred to sacrifice my feet. Now they are almost torn to bits." "Fancy letting yourself be tortured like this!" said the gentleman. "One shot and that's the end of the vulture." "Really?" I said. "With pleasure," said the gentleman, "I've only got to go home and get my gun. Could you wait another half hour?" "I'm not sure about that," said I, and stood for a moment rigid with pain. Then I said: "Do try it in any case, please." "Very well," said the gentleman, "I'll be as quick as I can." During this conversation the vulture had been calmly listening, letting its eye rove between me and the gentleman. Now I realized that it had understood everything; it took wing, leaned far back to gain impetus, and then, like a javelin thrower, thrust its beak through my mouth, deep into me. Falling back, I was relieved to feel him drowning irretrievably in my blood, which was filling every depth, flooding every shore.

19. Lugones, Leopoldo

The Statue of Salt.

As the story 'The Pillar of Salt' collected in Lugones' Strange Forces





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