Review: The Book of Imaginary Beings, by Jorge Luis Borges

Good introduction to the world of Borges (4 stars)

I have often heard the following phrase about Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges: “I wanted so much to read, but It’s too hard”. Most likely because of the encyclopedic erudition of his texts and his love for metaphysics, philosophy and mathematic; interests that bleeds into his stories.

And reading short stories where half the paragraphs have footnotes, or references to 500-year-old books in Latin, Greek or Aramaic can be a daunting task. That’s why I think The Book of Imaginary Beings could be a good introductory work.

In the book, Borges creates an informal encyclopedia of fictitious creatures. The usual suspects can by found, like centaurs or dragons, but they are usually addressed with a fresh Borgian perspective. But what I really liked were the truly strange creatures, like a two-headed serpent with one head in each extremity, or the Á Bao A Qu and the Condillac statue.

It’s not a complete creature grimoire by any means, but that is not it’s point. An incredibly imaginative look at imaginary creatures by one of the world’s greatest writers.

Guilherme Solari is a Brazilian writer and journalist from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has written about movies, literature and videogames for some of Brazil’s biggest news sites. He is the author of THE CASCAVEL CHRONICLES, a love letter to 80's action movies, as well as the cyberpunk CYBERSAMPA series.