In his writing, Borges always combined high seriousness with a wicked sense of fun. Here he reveals his delight in re-creating or making up colorful stories from the Orient, the Islamic world, and the Wild West, as well as his horrified fascination with knife fights, political and personal betrayal, and bloodthirsty revenge. Sparkling with the sheer exuberant pleasure of story-telling, this collection marked the emergence of an utterly distinctive literary voice. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1, titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines.
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Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Andrew Hurley Translator. In his writing, Borges always combined high seriousness with a wicked sense of fun. Here he reveals his delight in re-creating or making up colorful stories from the Orient, the Islamic world, and the Wild West, as well as his horrified fascination with knife fights, political and personal betrayal, and bloodthirsty revenge.
Sparkling with the sheer exuberant pleasure of In his writing, Borges always combined high seriousness with a wicked sense of fun. Sparkling with the sheer exuberant pleasure of story-telling, this wonderful collection marked the emergence of an utterly distinctive literary voice. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1, titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines.
Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published July 27th by Penguin Classics first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Universal History of Iniquity , please sign up.
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More filters. Sort order. Start your review of A Universal History of Iniquity. Nov 13, Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing. From his early years the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges lived among books and languages, classical literature from many civilizations and cultures: Chinese, Persian, Nordic, Spanish, to name several. His greatest childhood memory was his father's library; he was reading Shakespeare in English at age 11; by the time he was an adult, Borges turned his mind into one vast library.
Therefore, it is a bit ironic this bookish man chose to write an entire collection of tales about men of sheer act From his early years the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges lived among books and languages, classical literature from many civilizations and cultures: Chinese, Persian, Nordic, Spanish, to name several. Therefore, it is a bit ironic this bookish man chose to write an entire collection of tales about men of sheer action and where the action is immorality, wickedness, injustice and evil.
Unlike Borges's baroque writings, these nine short tales are straight-forward and make for easy reading. For the purposes of this review and to convey the flavor of the book, here are quotes with brief comments on two of the tales. The Disinterested Killer Bill Harrigan At the very beginning, Borges writes, "The almost-child who died at the age of twenty-one owing a debt to human justice for the deaths of twenty-one men - "not counting Mexicans. Iniquity, indeed; Borges gives us several vivid, memorable images of what it is like to kill for the hell of it.
For instance, one notorious Mexican gunslinger and outlaw walks into a bar, a shot rings out, no need for a second shot and Billy picked up the conversation where he left off.
And then in the words of Borges, "That night Billy lays his blanket out next to the dead man and sleeps - ostentatiously - until morning. Its characters were men like Dandy Johnny Dolan, famed for his brilliantined forelock, the monkey-headed walking sticks he carried, and the delicate copper pick he wore on his thumb to gouge out his enemies' eyes: men like Kit Burns, who was known to bite the head off live rats; and men like blind Danny Lyons, a towheaded kid with huge dead eyes who pimped for three whores that proudly walked the streets for him.
However, such a labyrinth of unending perversion and violence was one Borges would never himself experience directly; rather, as a bookish, literary man, Borges entered this twisted human sewer through his imagination. And please keep in mind Borges was strongly influenced by the nineteenth century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer.
The nastiness and brutality of life outlined by Schopenhauer made an indelible impression on the sensitive author. My guess is anyone reading this review is light-years away from entering a world where teenagers kill for the hell of it or cutthroat gangs hack and slice one another to pieces under the banner of an impaled dog or rabbit.
But such worlds existed aplenty in the 19th and early 20th century and they still exist today. How to experience these violent worlds for yourself? One easy answer: let Jorge Luis Borges give you a guided tour. View all 36 comments. Similar to sounds, skilfully combined by a composer into a harmonious sequence, turning them into melody, simple words, cunningly used by an artful author, become intellectual music.
The runaway expected his freedom. A bullet, a knife, or a blow, and the Mississippi turtles and catfish would receive the last evidence. Telling the tales of villainy Jorge Luis Borges turns reality into a baroque ornament of wickedness, grotesquely adding to evil supernatural features so that it becomes even more sinister. An ingenious addition even a wee bit of magic to reality unfailingly turns it into a magnetizing object of art. View all 7 comments.
Apr 16, Mike Puma rated it really liked it Shelves: argentine-author , View all 5 comments. May 11, Cecily rated it liked it Shelves: short-stories-and-novellas , south-america , jorge-luis-borges.
I have the Complete Fictions with copious translator's notes , but am splitting my review of that into its components, listed in publication order: Collected Fictions - all reviews. This is the first, published in I had read several profound and passionate reviews by friends, and felt the building lure of Borges, aided by a growing awarene " Reading I had read several profound and passionate reviews by friends, and felt the building lure of Borges, aided by a growing awareness of how influential he was to many other writers.
I came to Borges with high expectations. I'm glad I had first dipped into several pieces from later volumes thanks for the suggestions, Steve before reading these. This is a collection of semi-fictionalised, but mostly straightforward accounts of exotic and infamous criminals around the world, plus one story that is not based on fact.
Borges describes them as Baroque exercises, bordering on self-parody, and partially inspired by G K Chesterton.
He defines Baroque as "the final stage in all art, when art flaunts and squanders its resources". The Cruel Redeemer of Lazarus Morell Morell is a poor white man, with a scam to help slaves escape plantations to freedom. I know that labyrinths recur throughout Borges' work, and the first mention is on the second page, in relation to the Mississippi delta. Tom is an opportunist, who with the encouragement of a friend, presents himself as the long-lost son of a titled lady.
Part of the plan is that he looks SO unlike the other man, he couldn't possibly be an impostor. Plausible pseudo-history - then dragons which turn out to be kites. The Disinterested Killer Bill Harrigan Billy the Kid frequents labyrinths and by 14, kills for mindless thrills and sometimes other rewards. Mirrors and paternity are abominable because they multiply and affirm it. Man on Pink Corner This is a first-person story of knife fighters, not based on on a real person, and the translator's notes point out that the "pink" of the title refers to a rough area of Buenos Aires, and the lack of definite pronoun conjures a painting perhaps Edward Hopper.
In the final sentence, the unnamed narrator makes it clear he's telling the story to Borges - an early nod to the way Borges later blends levels of reality. Et Cetera This section contains even shorter pieces, some of which probably presage later works: A Theologian In Death A theologian in a mysterious and unfamilar house of many rooms is in denial of his own death.
The Chamber of Statues A fairytale-like allegory of death, via series of locked rooms, from nights. The Story of the Two Dreamers The power of dreams.
The Mirror of Ink Visions in a different sort of mirror. Rorschach might approve. Mahomed's Double Lots of them! In the light of Rushdie and Charlie Hebdo, I'm not sure this would go unchallenged if published for the first time now.
Index of Sources Another layer of fiction, or at least blurring the boundaries. View all 21 comments. Feb 28, Ian "Marvin" Graye rated it really liked it Shelves: reviews , borges , read , reviewsstars. They effectively document the development of Borges' style at a time when "he was a shy sort of man who could not bring himself to write short stories, and so amused himself by changing and distorting sometimes without aesthetic justification the stories of other men.
Borges was primarily concerned with external facts, in effect, what could be witnessed or seen by those present. Only, in relation to writing, an author can help a reader to be vicariously present, and therefore to become a witness to what had been related by the author, or at least the narrator.
Good, Compliant Readers Borges isn't interested in sincerity, because that can be faked. Rather, he's interested in fact and factuality and, ironically, how that can be faked.
Universal History Of Infamy
A Universal History of Iniquity
A Universal History of Infamy , or A Universal History of Iniquity original Spanish title: Historia universal de la infamia , is a collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges , first published in , and revised by the author in Angel Flores, the first to use the term " magical realism ", set the beginning of the movement with this book. The stories except Hombre de la esquina rosada are fictionalised accounts of real criminals. The sources are listed at the end of the book, but Borges makes many alterations in the retelling—arbitrary or otherwise—particularly to dates and names, so the accounts cannot be relied upon as historical. In particular, The Disinterested Killer diverges from its source material. Two English translations exist, the first from and the second from part of a collected edition, published as a separate book in
Universal History of Iniquity
This was an enjoyable read and much better than some have mentioned in their criticisms. Borges' style is so natural and free. It is as if he is sitting there in front of you, relaxing, relating his story to our sharpening delight. Unfortunately I have to say that I found this rather disappointing I read it mostly in the days leading up to Christmas, and even though it's a very short book - only some odd pages - it took He returned to Buenos Aires in , where he helped to found several avant-garde literary periodicals.
A Universal History of Infamy