The Library of Babel


“From these two incontrovertible premises he deduced that the Library is total and that its shelves register all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographical symbols (a number which, though extremely vast, is not infinite): Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels’ autobiographies, the faithful catalogues of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of those catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.” – The Library of Babel (Page 3)

Having read this it very much reminds me of the Library of Alexandria which at one point before being burned down contained what was essentially all of the knowledge the world had to offer.Though in the story the library is essentially every single combination of words possible within a limited amount of space. Thus it can in theory contain every bit of knowledge and every possible answer. The Library holds all knowledge, but the problem is finding it and sorting it out from the nonsense. People in this story apparently dedicating their lives to finding that one book, while others go about throwing away books that don’t mean anything to them.


Borges, Jorge Luis, Erik Desmazières, Andrew Hurley, and Angela Giral. The Library of Babel. Boston: David R. Godine, 2000. Print


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