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

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Libraries are a favorite symbol for Borges, who spent some of his most creative years writing stories in the basement of a municipal library. Sound fun? Well it gets even better. Toward the end of his career (years after publishing "The Secret Miracle"), Borges went blind. Oh, and he was the Director of the Argentine National Library. So it's pretty convenient that one of the characters in this dream is a blind librarian.

The library that appears in "The Secret Miracle" is the Clementine Library, a collection that once belonged to Pope Clement XI (and which was acquired by Catholic University in Washington, D.C. in 1928). Given the metaphysical nature of Jaromir's quest – in his dream, he's searching for God – the religious association of the collection is definitely significant.

Also, check this out: the fact that it's a Catholic library means that all of the major monotheistic religions – Islam, Judaism, and Christianity – are mentioned in this story. Way to be universal, Borges. As always.

Like all of Borges' libraries (especially his famous "Library of Babel"), this one is a treasure trove of information, but not a very organized one. In fact, people in the library suffer from information overload, and can't seem to find what they're looking for. The blind librarian tells Jaromir that he's gone blind searching through the library's four hundred thousand tomes, and that his parents and grandparents didn't have much luck, either. The fact that Jaromir succeeds in finding the divine letter is pure luck – or, dare we say, fate.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...