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The Library of Babel

The Library of Babel


by Jorge Luis Borges

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

From 1937 to 1946, Borges worked as a librarian at a branch of the Municipal Library of Buenos Aires. His stint as a government employee came to an end when the Peronists, a political party that Borges had vocally criticized, came to power. The Peronists punished Borges by "promoting" him to the position of agricultural inspector, a job that involved inspecting chickens. Borges quit (Source: Jorge Luis Borges, "An Autobiographical Essay," in The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933-1969).

In 1955, the same year that Borges became director of Argentina's National Library, his doctor told him that he would never again be able to see well enough to read or write on his own. You can see the irony here. But blindness didn't hold him back. For over thirty years, Borges continued to compose essays and poems by dictation. In "Poem of the Gifts," he attributes his status as blind librarian to God, "who with such splendid irony/granted me books and blindness at one touch" (Source: Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems).

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