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    From MHS:Horacio Daniel Massim@TEMP to Pablo Contursi on Mon Feb 23 07:11:00 1998
    De: Horacio Daniel Massimino 4:901/134.0
    Fecha:18 Feb 98 21:04:57
    ­Hola Pablo!

    El 05 de Feb de 1998, Pablo Contursi le escribi¢ a All:

    Libros inexistentes, inventados por Borges...

    (Tengo tambi‚n algunas tapas de los libros -inexistentes-
    inventados por Borges). (Las tapas existen. No existen los libros.
    S¡ existe el que hizo las tapas de los libros que no existen: un ilustrador llamado George Kranitis).


    ¨De d¢nde sacaste esto?
    Es la primera noticia que tengo sobre este tema...


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  • From MHS:Pablo Contursi@4:900/@TEMP to All on Mon Feb 23 07:12:00 1998
    De: Pablo Contursi 4:900/264.0
    Fecha:05 Feb 98 01:13:00

    Part 1 of 3...

    Libros inexistentes, inventados por Borges...

    (Tengo tambi‚n algunas tapas de los libros -inexistentes- inventados
    por Borges). (Las tapas existen. No existen los libros. S¡ existe el que
    hizo las tapas de los libros que no existen: un ilustrador llamado George Kranitis).

    The Garden of Forking Paths -- The Crimson Hexagon



    Hexagon -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The composition of vast books is a laborious and impoverishing extravagance.
    go on for five hundred pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes! A better course of procedure is to pretend that these books already exist, and then to offer a resume, a commentary . . . More reasonable, more inept, more indolent, I have preferred to write notes upon imaginary books.

    -- Jorge Luis Borges

    The Crimson Hexagon: Books Borges Never Wrote

    The fiction of Borges is filled with references to encyclopedias that do not exist, reviews of imaginary books by fictional authors, and citations from monographs that have as much real existence as does the Necronomicon or the Books of Bokonon. As an intellectual exercise of pure whimsical uselessness, I have catalogued here all these "imaginary" books that I could find in the stories of the "real" Argentine. I am sure that Borges himself would fail to see much of a difference. . . .

    In order to flesh out some of the details, I have elaborated a bit -- although much of the detail on these books is really from Borges. I have added some dates, some information on contents, and a few general descriptions of the book's binding and cover; I would be more than happy to accept other submissions and ideas on how to flesh this out. Do you have an idea I could use? Please mail it to me!

    The books are arranged alphabetically by author.


    I am currently revising The Garden of Forking Paths. Although this page has been cast into a new format, it has not yet been revised. Over the next two months I will be rewriting each page, adding new material and making a few stylistic changes. You can keep abreast of my progress by visiting the "What's New?" Page at the Libyrinth.

    A First Encyclopaedia of Tlon


    The 40 volumes of this work are rare to the point of being semi-mythical. Written in English under the direction of American millionaire Ezra Buckley, the First Encyclopaedia of Tlon was published over a period of ninety years in a limited run of only three-hundred copies. The whole set is reputed to
    of forty octavo volumes bound in yellow leather, and each volume is supposedly rich with color engravings. Each volume -- quite mysteriously -- bears no
    of origin or date except for the inscription "ORBIS TERTIUS" in a blue oval stamp on a silk sheet covering the illustrated title page.

    A masterpiece of philosophical apocrypha, the Encyclopaedia is the clandestine work of a cabal of scholars, scientists, and philosophers who dedicated themselves to the awesome task of inventing a whole new planet, and is now believed to be exclusively in the hands of private collectors. It is known
    a copy of Volume XI was once in the possession of J. L. Borges, but has not
    been discovered, and it is widely believed that Borges misplaced the book and never relocated it. More than a few , however, including both Jorn Barger and Dr. Ivan Almeida, have rather quixotically suggested that the volume was not misplaced at all; they contend that it was given as a present to Adolfo Bioy-Casares, whose flawed copy of The Anglo-American Cyclopedia was used as a story germ for the original Borges fiction about Orbis Tertius's insertion
    our reality. Their evidence for this is unfortunately slim -- a brief mention, in the notes of Borges's first wife (Early Notebooks of Borges, edited by Elsa Astete Millan, 1973, published by New Horizons after Borges's death in 1986)
    a letter from Bioy-Casares to Borges; this letter, however, was supposedly
    during the second Peron regime, and its existence is general considered apocryphal. But whether or not the younger author ever possessed a copy of Volume XI of the First Encyclopaedia of Tlon, the actual copy of Bioy-Casares' Volume XLVI of The Anglo-American Cyclopedia can be viewed in the Buenos Aires Writer's Museum. Its black leather bindings and faux gold leaf trim seem to leap right out of Borges's Ficciones, serving to remind us of the surreal way the Argentine viewed the interchangeable nature of reality and fictive illusion.
    Perhaps one of the strangest theories, though, predictably comes from Umberto Eco. In an article in Postmodernism (June 1988) the Italian semiologist speculates that Borges himself was actually a member of the secret society responsible for the creation of the First Encyclopaedia of Tlon, and that he was assigned to write a story about himself finding Volume XI -- a trick to make any copies of the Encyclopaedia seem the work of a Borges imitator and consequentially completely fictional.

    Lesbare und lesenwerthe Bemerkungen uber das Land Ukkbar in Klein-Asien

    Johann Valentin Andre (1641)

    A very rare work of which only seven copies survive, the Clear and Worthy Observations on Uqbar of Asia Minor was penned by J.V. Andre, the German theologian responsible for the idea of the imaginary community of Rosae
    (Perhaps the reader will remember the infamous Commune of Prague in 1773, a group that tried to recreate Andre's idea in reality --- an attempt which
    in blood and misery. For further details, see the article by Doktor Kristophe Gross in Der Annalen Metakarus, 1934.)
    The Lesbare is not an easy work to read, filled with arcane references to the Qabalah and numerous difficult German terms and compound expressions, many of which seem to have been invented by Andre to describe the philosophy and language of Uqbar. (Including my favorite, Ketherursprache, which means "the primal non-language of fire and creation.") The book was poorly translated
    French in 1783, and then this flawed version translated into English in 1817
    Immanuel St. James, an associate of De Quincey who first introduced him to the work of this difficult theologian. Silas Haslam was working on a more
    translation of the original German at the time of his death in 1914, but literary rumor contends that his wife burned the manuscripts.

    The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim

    Mir Bahadur Ali (1932)

    Written by a lawyer from Bombay, this is an unusual novel that combines
    mysticism and allegory with a strange sort of detective story. Originally a cheaply published book in Bombay, the popularity of the work brought almost immediate fame to its author. In essence, it is the story of a law student in Bombay who surprisingly commits a murder, and is subsequently drawn into the lower strata of Indian society. There he becomes obsessed with finding a "perfect man," Al-Mu'tasim, by analyzing the imprint he leaves in others. This book -- the original version -- is extremely rare, and has never been
    beyond the original 4000 copies.
    The American composer, Philip Glass, owns a translated copy of one of the originals he got from Constance DeJong; and has often contemplated making it the subject of an opera. If he would ever see this project through, it would
    much to bring the original out from the shadow of the more popular rewrite. (See below.)

    The Conversation with the Man Called Al-Mu'tasim

    Mir Bahadur Ali (1934) -- Illustrated version

    After the success of his novel in 1932, Bahadur issued a revised and (poorly) illustrated version which was subtitled A Game of Shifting Mirrors. By far the more widely known of the two versions, it has been reprinted several times and translated into English, German, and French. It should be noted, however, that this edition has been criticized for its slick rewrite, and that Bahadur debased his original idea by making the quest for the missing protagonist a too-obvious allegory for a quest for God, inserting several stereotypical characters in a distracting and overly extraneous fashion. Still, the book has its coterie of admirers, including Borges, Heller, Beckett, and Salman
    who cited it as "the single most influential book I have ever read."

    Urkunden zur Geschichte der Zahirsage

    Julius Barlach (Breslau: 1899)

    An obscure but well-researched work, "Documents and Tales: the History of the Zahir" is an account of the Islamic myth of the Zahir, the word that signifies "beings or things which possess the terrible property of being unforgettable, and whose image finally drives one mad." It is, essentially, a collection of every story, myth, and reference to the Zahir from around the world, from the early eighteenth century to the time of composition. Included are excerpts
    Luft Ali Azur's Temple of Fire, Meadow Taylor's comprehensive study while in the service of the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the verses from the Asrar Nama
    claim that to see the Zahir is to soon see God.
    The original book itself is a handsome octavo edition, published first in Breslau, and reprinted in Berlin in 1935 under the direction of Dr. Julius Niemand, a close associate of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, who provided a few illustrations. Dr. Niemand added a few more references, including the celebrated "Weimar Bierstein des Weisen" story, and insouciantly edited a few of the stories out of existence. These stories -- all Jewish in origin -- were later reintroduced for the third printing in 1953. Dr. Niemand -- who would be arrested as a Nazi after WW II, was one of the "Spear of Destiny"
    and can be seen in a famous photograph along with his associates Karl Holz, Julius Streicher, Willi Liebel, Hans von Obernitz, and Dr. Benno Martin. This photo, from the Stadtarchiv Nurnberg, is the only known picture of Dr.
    who hung himself during the trials.
    During a lecture at Columbia University in 1971, Borges admitted that he owned a copy of the original, which is where he got the idea for his famous story "The Zahir." His copy is now on display in the Buenos Aires Writer's Museum, opened to the page where, across the margin in Borges's cramped handwriting, this ironic note is scrawled: "The Zahir as a story! -- make it a tiger. Stripes all over the walls. Eyes in gemstones. Yellow and gold! It would be impossible to forget a tiger!"

    History of a Land called Uqbar

    Silas Haslam (1874)

    Haslam's first book, this is a detailed history of Uqbar, a middle eastern
    of varying reality. Written while the young Englishman was living in Berlin with his German mother, the History has a brilliant style, and takes on its subject with an eccentric black humor and linguistic playfulness that would later become Haslam's trademark. In particular, the work discusses the endless religious debates between the heresiarchs of this strange land, as well as the countless religious persecutions and wars. Haslam goes into great detail on describing the nuances of these discussions and differences, making what seems at first to the Western eye be trivial points into an expanding maze of complexities. Unlike the German history by Andre, which he cites several
    Haslam surprisingly leaves most of the linguistics of Uqbar unstudied; but no writer has explored the strange cults and religions of Uqbar and Tlon with
    wit or more enthusiasm. His ability to bring out the subtleties of differing philosophies remains unparalleled.
    It should be noted that Haslam's work itself has generated quite a few books
    commentary. By far the best analysis of this particular book is by Dr. Jon Fetter of the Hess Language School in Taiwan: The Hydra Remerges. (1988, San Ming Press.) I would also recommend the lecture by Borges entitled "Haslam and his Mazes," available by reprint from the University of Texas Press.

    A General History of Labyrinths

    Silas Haslam (1888)

    This elegant book is a masterwork of scholarship. Adding to its appeal are the hauntingly beautiful illustrations, all provided by Haslam's wife Anna, a Viennese art student who was later treated for schizophrenia and died in an English sanitarium three years after his death. Starting with a discussion of labyrinthine symbolism seen in prehistoric cave paintings, Haslam traces the development of the labyrinth through Celtic neolithic spirals to the mythic "lost labyrinth" of the Chinese governor Ts'ui Pen. No stone is left unturned as Haslam skillfully weaves an intricate tapestry of mazes across the warp and

    Continued to next message...

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