The Circular Ruins

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"The Circular Ruins"
Las ruinas circulares - Fan art by Ricardo Garbini.jpg
Poster created to illustrate the story
AuthorJorge Luis Borges
Original title"Las ruinas circulares"
Genre(s)Fantasy, short story
Published inFicciones, Labyrinths
Media typePrint
Publication date1940
Published in English1949

"The Circular Ruins" (Spanish: "Las ruinas circulares") is a short story by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. First published in the literary journal Sur in December 1940, it was included in the 1941 collection The Garden of Forking Paths (Spanish: El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan) and the 1944 collection Ficciones. It was first published in English in View (Series V, No. 6 1946), translated by Paul Bowles.


The story's epigraph is taken from Chapter 4 of Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll: "And if he left off dreaming about you...". It comes from the passage in which Tweedledee points out the sleeping Red King to Alice, and claims she is simply a character in his dream.[1]


The short story deals with themes that recur in Borges's work: idealism, the manifestation of thoughts in the "real world", meaningful dreams, and immortality. The manifestation of thoughts as objects in the real world was a theme in "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", but here Borges takes it to another level: the manifestation of human beings rather than simple objects.

The story also seems to symbolize writers as creators who engender one another and whose existence and originality would be impossible without their predecessors, a theme he wrote about in other works such as "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote", another short story from the Ficciones collection.

Its treatment of dreaming reality and free will is similar to La vida es sueño, a Spanish play published in 1635 by Pedro Calderón de la Barca.


  1. ^ Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass 38


  • Borges, Jorge Luis (1964). "The Circular Ruins". Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. New Directions. pp. 45–50.
  • Carroll, Lewis (2010). Through the Looking-Glass. New York: Cosimo.
  • Dapía, Silvia G. "Jeff's Borges web site: The Circular Ruins (archived version)". Archived from the original on September 26, 2013. Retrieved 2006-10-28.