This fictitious short story written by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges is split into two parts plus a postscript. To superficially summarize, the short recalls how Borges is vaguely introduced to mysterious country Uqbar by friend Bioy Casares. Uqbar is only referred to in a single volume of an encyclopedia which is described as a plagiarized copy of the 1907 Encyclopædia Britannica. It roughly details Uqbar’s culture briefly and mentions two possibly fictitious places, one of which is called Tlön. This leads Borges to research whether Uqbar is a real or fictional place. Borges then discovers an eleventh volume from an encyclopedia solely dedicated to an other worldly place called Tlön. Volume eleven references previous and following volumes suggesting that more books exist. It is speculated that the book may be the work of “a secret society of astronomers, biologists, engineers, metaphysicians, poets, chemists, algebraists, moralists, painters, and geometricians – all led by an obscure genius.” From here, instead of examining things like the geography or zoology of Tlön, Borges goes into depth about its’ philosophies, language, metaphysics.
I’ll admit I chose to read Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius mainly because the title intrigued me and because the other two books I had chosen to read didn’t really resonate with me. I started reading this short story with absolutely no background information on the story or the author. I’ve since reread it twice and done a tiny bit research. I won’t pretend that I completely understand the philosophical descriptions in the last three quarters of part II yet. Although, I have that feeling you get when you’ve discovered something potentially life changing. I tend to like things that you can come back to, so that you can reexamine it, and maybe have a new outlook when you take a step back. This short story made me think of Charlie Kaufmann’s film Synecdoche, NY, they are similar in that both play with blurring the lines of reality are works that I revisited many times. I have a feeling I’ll be rereading this short story many times in the coming weeks.