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The 74 Books That Fascinated Borges


There are gifts that, although distant, are intimate, generous and have the capacity to fill us with joy. This list is the product of the kindness of a stranger.

“May others boast of the books they were gifted to write; I boast of the books I was given to read,” Borges wrote in the prologue to his Biblioteca personal, edited by Argentine publisher Hyspamérica in 1985. At the time of his death, the Buenos Aires-born writer had completed the prologues to the first seventy-four titles of a selection of 100 that were to form the collection, chosen by Borges himself.

Borges’ aim with this generous list was to open the galleries and palaces of his literary memory to the world; list the texts that were essential in his life in case some day a reader out there, would be, like him, “destined for their symbols.” In his selected bibliography Borges did not necessarily include famous titles; he includes those that were not written to be analyzed but to be wholly enjoyed. The selection is therefore intimate and disparate, made up of books and pages that were a joy to read and which he wanted to share as such.

“I want this library to be as diverse as the boundless curiosity that has induced me, and continues to induce me, to the exploration of so many languages and literatures.”

1. Stories by Julio Cortázar
2. & 3. The Apocryphal Gospels
4. Amerika and The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka
5. The Blue Cross: A Father Brown Mystery by G.K. Chesterton
6. & 7. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
8. The Intelligence of Flowers by Maurice Maeterlinck
9. The Desert of the Tartars by Dino Buzzati
10. Peer Gynt and Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
11. The Mandarin: And Other Stories by Eça de Queirós
12. The Jesuit Empire by Leopoldo Lugones
13. The Counterfeiters by André Gide
14. The Time Machine and The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
15. The Greek Myths by Robert Graves
16. & 17. Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
18. Mathematics and the Imagination by Edward Kasner
19. The Great God Brown and Other Plays, Strange Interlude, and Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O’Neill
20. Tales of Ise by Ariwara no Narihara
21. “Benito Cereno”, “Billy Budd”, and “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville
22. “The Tragic Everyday”, “The Blind Pilot”, and “Words and Blood” by Giovanni Papini
23. The Three Impostors
24. Songs of Songs tr. by Fray Luis de León
25. An Explanation of the Book of Job tr. by Fray Luis de León
26. The End of the Tether and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
27. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
28. Essays & Dialogues by Oscar Wilde
29. Barbarian in Asia by Henri Michaux
30. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse
31. Buried Alive by Arnold Bennett
32. On the Nature of Animals by Claudius Elianus
33. The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen
34. The Temptation of St. Antony by Gustave Flaubert
35. Travels by Marco Polo
36. Imaginary Lives by Marcel Schwob
37. Caesar and Cleopatra, Major Barbara, and Candide by George Bernard Shaw
38. Macus Brutus and The Hour of All by Francisco de Quevedo
39. The Red Redmaynes by Eden Phillpotts
40. Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard
41. The Golem by Gustav Meyrink
42. The Lesson of the Master, The Figure in the Carpet, and The Private Life by Henry James
43. & 44. The Nine Books of the History of Herodotus by Herdotus
45. “Pedro Páramo” by Juan Rulfo
46. Tales -Rudyard Kipling
47. Vathek by William Beckford
48. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
49. The Professional Secret & Other Texts by Jean Cocteau
50. The Last Days of Emmanuel Kant and Other Stories by Thomas de Quincey
51. Prologue to the Work of Silverio Lanza by Ramon Gomez de la Serna
52. The Thousand and One Nights
53. New Arabian Nights and Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson
54. Salvation of the Jews, The Blood of the Poor, and In the Darkness by Léon Bloy
55. The Bhagavad Gita and The Epic of Gilgamesh
56. Fantastic Stories – Juan José Arreola
57. Lady into Fox, A Man in the Zoo, and The Sailor’s Return by David Garnett
58. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
59. Literary Criticism by Paul Groussac
60. The Idols by Manuel Mujica Láinez
61. The Book of Good Love by Juan Ruiz
62. Complete Poetry – William Blake
63. Above the Dark Circus by Hugh Walpole
64. Poetical Works – Ezequiel Martinez Estrada
65. Tales – Edgar Allan Poe
66. The Aeneid by Virgil
67. Stories – Voltaire
68. An Experiment with Time by J.W. Dunne
69. An Essay on Orlando Furioso by Atilio Momigliano
70. & 71. The Varieties of Religious Experience and The Study of Human Nature by William James
72. Egil’s Saga by Snorri Sturluson
73. The Book of the Dead
74. & 75. The Problem of Time by J. Alexander Gunn

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