The Garden of Forking Paths
The Garden of Forking Paths (Spanish title: El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan)is the name is of a collection of short stories by Borge and a short story included in it. The collection contains the following stories:
- Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius (1940)
- The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim (1936, not included in the 1941 edition)
- Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote (1939)
- The Circular Ruins (1940)
- The Babylon Lottery (1941)
- An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain (1941)
- The Library of Babel (1941)
- The Garden of Forking Paths (1941)
The story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is about a fictitious book. The author discovers an article in the Encyclopedia Britannica about it. He later finds that the article was only in his copy of the Encyclopedia.
"The Library of Babel" is about a large library which contains all the possible books in the world. It touches on ideas concerning infinity and parallel worlds.
The story "The Graden of Forking Paths" is about a Chinese spy, Yu Tsun, who is working for Germany. He is a relative of a wise man, T'sui Pen, who invented a book and a labyrinth. Yu Tsun is being chased tby Richard Madden. He escapes from him and goes to a garden. There he meets Stephen Albert, who has solved the mystery of T'sui Pen's labyrinth. He says the book and the labyrinth were the same and that the mystery lies in time. The book is like a multiple universe where all possibilities happen. So, one character dies in one story but survives in another. After he tells the secret to Yu, Yu kills him by shooting him in the back. He is then arrested by Madden and sentenced to death. However, nobody in that country knew that he had sent a message to Germany. By killing Albert, he sent the message to bomb a city called Albert.
As in many of Borges' works, we find his recurrent themes here: time, infinity, fictitious reviews and labyrinths. The anthology also shows his great erudition in several themes and his irony, in some of them. There are three review stories: "The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim", "An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain", and "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote". That genre is seldom written in and Borges is one of its greatest authors. Borges is notable here for anticipation: he wrote "The Garden of Forking Paths" a decade before the development of the Theory of many-worlds interpretation in quantum mechanics. Borges is one of the very few Latin American writers to tell stories about parallel universes; the other one is his friend Adolfo Bioy Casares (see La trama celeste). Also, in the "Circular Ruins", we find the concept of mind over matter, as seen in oriental religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. The story is about a man thinking and creating another man for his pleasure. The created man realizes this at near the end of the story when he notices he cannot burn (as his inventions can). It is a short story about a world inside another because both men possess the same reality; even more, the creator realizes he is the fantasy of another man, maybe the writer. "The Library of Babel" tells the story of a library of all possible books; it underlines the concept of an infinite possibility of outcomes.
Artifices contains the following stories:
- Funes the Memorious (1942)
- The Form of the Sword (1942)
- Theme of the Traitor and the Hero (1944)
- Death and the Compass (1942)
- The Secret Miracle (1943)
- Three Versions of Judas (1944)
- The End (short story) (1953, 2nd edition only)
- The Sect of the Phoenix (1952, 2nd edition only)
- The South (1953, 2nd edition only)