Fictions (English)

La biblioteca de Babel - Jorge Luis Borges

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in italiano

Ficciones (Spanish)


Tribute to the story The Library of Babel, written by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
this story has been published for the first time in the 1941 inside the collection The Garden of Forking Paths (El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan) and later, the full book was included in 1944 inside the collection Fictions (Ficciones).

Description of the Library of Babel

The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and maybe infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts in the middle, surrounded by low railings.
From any of the hexagons one can see interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the objects in the galleries is invariable. Twenty-five long shelves, five shelves per side, cover all the sides except one; their height, which is the same of each storey, does not exceeds too much from that of a normal bookcase. The free side leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery, identical to the first and to all the others. To the left and right of the hallway there are two very small closets. In one, it is possible to sleep standing up; in the other, it is possible to satisfy the fecal necessities. Through here passes the spiral stairway, which sinks abysmally and soars upwards to the remote. In the hallway there is a mirror which faithfully duplicates all appearances. [...] Light is provided by some spherical fruit which bear the name of lamps. There are two in each hexagon, placed on a traverse. The light they emit is insufficient, incessant. [...]
For each wall of each hexagon there are five shelves; each shelf contains thirty-two books of uniform format; each book is of four hundred and ten pages; each page, of forty lines, each line, of forty letters which are black in color.
There are also letters on the spine of each book; these letters do not indicate or prefigure what the pages will say. I know that this incoherence at one time seemed mysterious. Before summarizing the solution (whose discovery, in spite of its tragic projections, is maybe the capital fact in history) I remind a few axioms.
First: The Library exists ab aeterno. [...]
Second: The number of the orthographical symbols is twenty-five. [...]

From: The Library of Babel of Jorge Luis Borges.

biblioteca 3D   

Explore the library representation

Map of one of the rooms, based on the description in the story of Jorge Borges.
Drawn by Francesco Cassani: Open the video

Open one of the books

In the story it is written that in the library of Babel, there are books that present all the possible combinations of the twenty-five symbols (twenty-two letters, space, comma and full stop) inside pages of forty characters in forty lines.
The two book pages below, automatically generated are surely contained in at least one of the books. The script is activated at each upload, to present always different pages.
Download (2k in a Zip archive) the Javascript code to create the pages.

More information on the library

Other rappresentations (Youtube Videos) of the Library of Babel
The Library of Babel of Borges, on Wikipedia

This image has been inserted thanks to Christopher Rywalt (HyperDiscordia)