From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Library of Babel

The Library of Babel


by Jorge Luis Borges

Analysis: Tone

Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?

Serious, Objective, Witty, Playful, Sympathetic

Borges packs a wide range of ideas into this short story, and his tone shifts depending on what he's talking about. When he presents us with the concept of the Library, he's objective and matter-of-fact in his description. When he raises philosophical questions, he's serious. When he describes the follies of the Library's inhabitants (suspiciously similar to some of our own) he's witty. He's both playful and imaginative in his invention of new symbols and allegories. And when he describes the narrator's pain at not succeeding in his life-long mission to understand how the universe works, Borges is sympathetic. Hey, he's a complexly emotional guy. And that's why we love him.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...