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Analysis

Literary Devices in The Garden of Forking Paths

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

The village of Ashgrove in the suburbs of Fenton, Staffordshire, BritainBy piecing together details given during the story's first few pages, we establish that Yu Tsun is doing his spying in Staffo...

Narrator Point of View

Most of the story is told in the first person by Yu Tsun, in the form of a deposition (oral testimony given by a witness to be used in a trial) that he narrates from prison. One aspect of Borges' g...

Genre

We won't argue with you if you want to call this story an example of magical realism. (Magical realism is a genre in which magical or supernatural elements appear in the text alongside perfectly or...

Tone

Because Borges likes to include so many authorial voices (see our discussion about "Narrator Point of View"), he varies his tone according to who's speaking. When our anonymous historian introduces...

Writing Style

One of the really cool things about "The Garden of Forking Paths" is the way the style of the writing mimics the diverging and converging paths of the labyrinth. That sounds more complicated than i...

What's Up With the Title?

The garden of the forking paths serves as the story's central metaphor. It's another way to describe a labyrinth, or an outdoor maze. Of course, the garden isn't the only labyrinth in the story –...

What's Up With the Ending?

Borges has an a-maze-ing way with endings. (Shut up. Puns are awesome.) He wraps up every little loose end to his labyrinthine narrative in the space of a single paragraph – and in this case, the...

Tough-o-Meter

A Borges story is like a brain-teaser. He's a fan of including little puzzles for the reader to decipher, obscure references for us to tease out, and phrases in foreign languages for us to translat...

Plot Analysis

Yu Tsun is a secret agent whose cover has been blown.We are introduced to our narrator, Yu Tsun, in the moment that he discovers that Captain Richard Madden has captured (and perhaps killed) his co...

Trivia

Allen B. Ruch at The Modern World has created an imaginative virtual bookshelf of all the texts that Borges famously didn't write. You can find Ts'ui Pen's Garden of Forking Paths here, as well as...

Steaminess Rating

Sorry, but the excitement of this little story doesn't have anything to do with sex. We know that's hard to believe in this day and age, when it seems every modern spy story has to include a Bond B...

Allusions

Goethe, a German author famous for writing Faust (8)Tacitus, Annals (11)Hung Lou Mêng (18)The Thousand and One Nights (a.k.a. Arabian Nights) (44)Captain Liddel Hart (1)Plato (44)Newton (57)Schope...
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