The Book of Sand (short story collection)

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The Book of Sand
First English edition (publ. Dutton)
AuthorJorge Luis Borges
Original titleEl libro de arena
TranslatorNorman Thomas di Giovanni
GenreFantasy, horror, science fiction
PublisherEmecé Editores
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint

The Book of Sand (original Spanish title: "El libro de arena") is a 1975 short story collection by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986). In the author's opinion, the collection, written in his last days — and while blind — is his best book.[1][2] This opinion is not shared by most critics, many of whom prefer his other works such as those in Ficciones (1944).

Referring to the collection, Borges said:

I have wanted to be loyal, in these exercises of a blind man, to the example of Wells: the conjunction of a plain style, sometimes almost oral, and an impossible argument.[3]

The first edition, published in Buenos Aires by Emecé, contained 181 pages. In Madrid it was edited that year by Ultramar.

Borges opts for an epilogue to this short story collection, different from the cases of his previous collections The Garden of Forking Paths (1941) and Artifices (1944) (later republished together in Ficciones), which had a prologue. Regarding this, Borges begins The Book of Sand's epilogue by saying: "To prologue unread stories is an almost impossible work, as it demands the analysis of plots one should not anticipate. I prefer, thus, an epilogue."[4]


The work consists essentially of a collection of thirteen short stories (original titles in italics):[5]

Amongst these stories the most notable include: The Other, the first story of the collection, in which the protagonist (Borges himself) encounters a younger version of himself (similar to his later short story August 25, 1983), The Congress, on an utopic universal congress (seen by critics as a political essay), There Are More Things, written in memory of H. P. Lovecraft, on an encounter with a monstrous extraterrestrial inhabiting an equally monstrous house,[6] Undr, on the maximum poetic synthesis,[7] The Sect of the Thirty, on an ancient manuscript that tells of the characteristics of a sect that equally venerated Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot,[8] A Weary Man's Utopia (according to Borges, "the most honest and melancholic piece in the collection"),[4] The Disk, on a one-sided coin, and the titular work The Book of Sand, on a book with infinite pages.[9]

Evaluating his work, Borges said:

If of all my stories I had to save one, I would probably save "The Congress", which at the same time is the most autobiographical (the one richest in memories) and the most imaginative.[10][11]


  1. ^ (in Spanish) "El cuento y yo", writings by Borges referring to his works Archived 2009-07-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ (in Spanish) El libro de arena de Jorge Luis Borges - Review
  3. ^ (in Spanish) Sololiteratura's portal on The Book of Sand
  4. ^ a b Borges, Jorge Luis (1975). The Book of Sand. p. Epilogue.
  5. ^ (in Spanish) Obras, El libro de arena; review by Raúl Alejandro López Nevado. Borges 1975, 1999, p.143.
  6. ^ (in Spanish) Análisis de There Are More Things desde la perspectiva lovecraftiana Archived 2010-11-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ (in Spanish) Study guide of Undr
  8. ^ (in Spanish) Study guide of The Sect of the Thirty Archived 2010-08-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Borges 1975, 1999, p.140.
  10. ^ Dumain, Ralph (15 August 2006). "On "The Congress" by Jorge Luis Borges: Observations and Questions". Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  11. ^ (in Spanish) Google books: "La crítica del mito: Borges y la literatura como sueño de vida", by Daniel Nahson


External links[edit]