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The Book of Fantasy began one night when three friends fell to talking about fantasies and ghost stories. The place was Buenos Aires, 1937, and the people were Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and his wife Silvina debated which stories were best, wrote Bioy Casares later, 'and someone suggested that if we brought together the tales and the fragments that we had liste The Book of Fantasy began one night when three friends fell to talking about fantasies and ghost stories. The place was Buenos Aires, 1937, and the people were Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and his wife Silvina debated which stories were best, wrote Bioy Casares later, 'and someone suggested that if we brought together the tales and the fragments that we had listed in our notebooks we would have a good book. ' The result is an astonishing collection of stories drawn from all the literatures of the world from Ancient China to Modern America mingling the obscure and the neglected with the already famous and showing a splendid disdain for conventional literary opinion. Among the authors included are Leonid Andreyev, Léon Bloy, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, O.K. Chesterton, James Joyce, Giovanni Papini, Carlos Peralta and Villiers de L'lsle Adam, some of whom have never been translated before. 'It is some- times said, wrote Bruce Chatwin. 'that all the elements of civilization end up eventually in Argentina, and most of it ends up in Borges' head. His values are those of high Western civilization They say lives in a world of imagination and dreams, but he's central to life. ' Now considerably expanded and published for the first time in English, The Book of Fantasy has a specially-written introduction by Ursula K. Le Guin. twice winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. She writes: 'It is an idiosyncratic selection. and completely eclectic. of the stories will be familiar to anyone who reads, others are exotic discoveries. A very well-known piece ... seems less predictable set among works and fragments from the Orient and South America and distant centuries, by Kafka Swedeolorg Cortäzar, Akutagawa. Niu Chiao; its own essential strangeness is restored to This is, quite simply, the finest anthology of its kind. --front flap


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The Book of Fantasy began one night when three friends fell to talking about fantasies and ghost stories. The place was Buenos Aires, 1937, and the people were Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and his wife Silvina debated which stories were best, wrote Bioy Casares later, 'and someone suggested that if we brought together the tales and the fragments that we had liste The Book of Fantasy began one night when three friends fell to talking about fantasies and ghost stories. The place was Buenos Aires, 1937, and the people were Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and his wife Silvina debated which stories were best, wrote Bioy Casares later, 'and someone suggested that if we brought together the tales and the fragments that we had listed in our notebooks we would have a good book. ' The result is an astonishing collection of stories drawn from all the literatures of the world from Ancient China to Modern America mingling the obscure and the neglected with the already famous and showing a splendid disdain for conventional literary opinion. Among the authors included are Leonid Andreyev, Léon Bloy, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, O.K. Chesterton, James Joyce, Giovanni Papini, Carlos Peralta and Villiers de L'lsle Adam, some of whom have never been translated before. 'It is some- times said, wrote Bruce Chatwin. 'that all the elements of civilization end up eventually in Argentina, and most of it ends up in Borges' head. His values are those of high Western civilization They say lives in a world of imagination and dreams, but he's central to life. ' Now considerably expanded and published for the first time in English, The Book of Fantasy has a specially-written introduction by Ursula K. Le Guin. twice winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. She writes: 'It is an idiosyncratic selection. and completely eclectic. of the stories will be familiar to anyone who reads, others are exotic discoveries. A very well-known piece ... seems less predictable set among works and fragments from the Orient and South America and distant centuries, by Kafka Swedeolorg Cortäzar, Akutagawa. Niu Chiao; its own essential strangeness is restored to This is, quite simply, the finest anthology of its kind. --front flap

30 review for The Book of Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    In Argentina, even the public art can be fabulous and haunting A truly outstanding collection from the libraries of world literature, some ancient, mostly modern; ninety stories of fantasy and the fantastic with many familiar authors such as John Aubrey, J.G. Ballard, Ambrose Bierce, Ray Bradbury, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Rudyard Kipling, Leo Tolstoy, Voltaire, Edith Warton, Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh. For the purposes of my review I will focus on one tale I found In Argentina, even the public art can be fabulous and haunting A truly outstanding collection from the libraries of world literature, some ancient, mostly modern; ninety stories of fantasy and the fantastic with many familiar authors such as John Aubrey, J.G. Ballard, Ambrose Bierce, Ray Bradbury, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Rudyard Kipling, Leo Tolstoy, Voltaire, Edith Warton, Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh. For the purposes of my review I will focus on one tale I found especially fascinating from an Argentinian author I’ve recently come to dearly love. Here is my write-up. Spoiler Alert: my analysis covers the entire story, beginning to end. THE SQUID IN ITS OWN INK by Adolfo Bioy Casares (written about 1950) Remarkable Event: “More happened in this town during the last few days than in the whole of the rest of its history.” So begins the tale told by our first-person narrator, a schoolteacher who’s lived in this town all his life, telling us of an event clearly more noteworthy in the town's 100 year history than even an Indian attack, bouts of cholera or civic pageants. Not even close. What is it? He informs us of a number of strange happenings leading up to the shocking discovery but as to what it is exactly, we are kept in suspense for most of the story. Bibliophile: Our twenty-something schoolteacher is proud to share how he devours books, loves books, reads everything he can get his book loving hands on since his goal and objective is culture. He also does some writing on the side and ultimately wants to be seen not only as an accomplished author but a highly cultured member of the community, somewhat similar to an older gentleman much looked up to in the town, pillar of local society, one Juan Camargo. Love the way Bioy Casares has a youthful lover of books as his narrator, the kind of person most readers of literature around the world can identify with. Missing: Juan Camargo lives in a real chalet with a lawn and flower gardens in his large front yard. Every spring and summer, water from a sprinkler twirls around in the garden, nonstop, keeping the grass green and the flowers fresh. But something unexpected happens: the sprinkler is missing. That’s right – it’s time to water the gardens and lawn and the sprinkler is nowhere to be seen. The narrator and all his buddies at the local bar figure there must be a very specific reason why no sprinkler. As the narrator cites, eventually he and his mates uncovered something “about which little was natural and which turned out to be quite a surprise.” Ah, foreshadowing. As readers, when we likewise discover this unnatural thing, we are also a little surprised. Actually, I myself was quite surprised, even somewhat stunned. Anyway, now we are into the story and have plenty of reason to keep turning the pages. The Plot Thickens: Would Juan carelessly cut off the water? Impossible. Juan is an exceptional man with old fashion ideas on what should always be done to keep things in order. Since he and his wife, doña Remedios rarely tolerate strangers, the only other person who ever goes in and out of their chalet is godson don Tadeito, a quiet boy who also happens to be a student in the narrator’s primary school class. Then that very next day after the missing sprinkler, the narrator hears a knock at 2:00 in the afternoon, siesta time, at his apartment door. It’s don Tadeito who asks him for first, second and third year textbooks. Why this request? Don Tadeito simply answers that Godfather asks. And the next day, a similar knock and request, only this time don Tadeito asks for fourth and fifth year textbooks. Same question; same response: Godfather wants them. Master Plan: As expected, the conversation at the bar is abuzz with the missing sprinkler and now the requests for all those textbooks. What is going on here? The whole crew gathers round a table; the brassy voice of Don Pomponio suggests they form a committee and go ask Juan Camargo himself for an explanation. Aldini has a better idea: the narrator should suggest don Tadeito spy on his Godfather and doña Remedios and report back to him what he hears. So, next visit by don Tadeito for more textbooks, the narrator tells the boy what he should do. The boy quietly agrees. Revelation: On his next visit to his teacher, don Tadeito recites in a soft monotone how Godfather and doña Remedios now have a new guest living in the shed in their backyard, a special gust for special reasons needing water to keep himself alive. And what are these special reasons? Though a series of pointed questions, the narrator comes to understand this special guest is from another planet and not only did he need water for his health, he needed textbooks to learn more about planet earth so he could best communicate with the people who have the power to drop the atomic bomb. He comes from a planet that knows about many worlds who have dropped atomic bombs and thereby destroyed themselves. And he also knows the earth dropping an atomic bomb could set off a possible chain reaction destroying his own planet. The visitor came as a friend and liberator and was asking for Godfather's help. Philosophy: Realizing all his buddies at the bar will never believe his report on such a piece of science fiction, he brings don Tadeito to repeat what he overheard himself from Juan Camargo. The boys listen in widemouthed astonishment, prompting much philosophizing and theorizing about the human race working problems out with or without help from an alien. Their debate ends with a call to action but, by the time they all reach Juan Camargo's chalet, water is twirling from the sprinkler in the front yard. It appears a decision has already been made about keeping the visitor from another planet alive. Coda: One of the many features I find both captivating and charming about this Adolfo Bioy Casares tale is how, as it turns out, the fate of the entire planet depends on a decision made by an older gentleman and his wife. In a way, they could be any older couple, anywhere on the globe. And, true to form, since they were the hosts of the stranger and the ones the stranger asked directly for help, they didn’t consult anybody else but simply make the decision themselves. Author of the fantastic, Adolfo Bioy Casares of Argentina

  2. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    What an addictive book! Borges, Bioy Casares and Ocampo chose some short stories and fragments of other works that really caught my interest. Especially the ones that seemed to influence Borges -my favorite of all three-; stories where the boundaries between dreams and reality disappear completely. Suddenly, you find the head of the dragon you killed last night in your dream. My biggest problem (that depressed me quite a bit) is that I found a lot of writers that I've never heard of. And I liked What an addictive book! Borges, Bioy Casares and Ocampo chose some short stories and fragments of other works that really caught my interest. Especially the ones that seemed to influence Borges -my favorite of all three-; stories where the boundaries between dreams and reality disappear completely. Suddenly, you find the head of the dragon you killed last night in your dream. My biggest problem (that depressed me quite a bit) is that I found a lot of writers that I've never heard of. And I liked their stuff. Do you know what that means, huh? My to-read shelf is getting bigger by the hour. * Also on my blog.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    cross-posted at booklikes and the mo-centric universe. originally posted in 2010. at first blush, i was excited to find this anthology because nothing would suit me better than to sit at Jorge Luis Borges' knee, and have him tell what his favourite stories were, or even have him read them to me. of course, this book was not just edited by Borges, but also Silvina Ocampo, and Adolfo Bioy Casares, who is quoted thusly by Ursula K. Le Guin in the intro, saying the book came out of a conversation "a cross-posted at booklikes and the mo-centric universe. originally posted in 2010. at first blush, i was excited to find this anthology because nothing would suit me better than to sit at Jorge Luis Borges' knee, and have him tell what his favourite stories were, or even have him read them to me. of course, this book was not just edited by Borges, but also Silvina Ocampo, and Adolfo Bioy Casares, who is quoted thusly by Ursula K. Le Guin in the intro, saying the book came out of a conversation "about fantastic literature... discussing the stories which seemed best to us. One of us suggested that if we put together the fragments of the same type we had listed in our notebooks, we would have a good book." and so i began. i read the first story, and liked it. then i read the second. it is quite short, so i include it for your enjoyment here: A Woman Alone With Her Soul Thomas Bailey Aldrich A woman is sitting alone in a house. She knows she is alone in the whole world: every other living thing is dead. The door bell rings. i stopped. i read it again. i thought, "who is this Thomas Bailey Aldrich? why haven't i heard of him?" i read the short biographical info provided by his name: Thomas Bailey Aldrich, North American poet and novelist, was born in New Hampshire in 1835 and died in Boston in 1907. He was the author of Cloth of Gold (1874), Wyndham Tower (1879), and An Old Town by the Sea (1893). i thought, "okay... maybe this story was never published in his lifetime. i didn't expect people were writing stories like this in the 19th century." and, "wow. doorbells have been around a long time. this story seems like it could have been written by Ben Loory when my back was turned except this anthology has been around since 1940, and the last revision was in 1976. okay. i'd better do a google search on Aldrich, a man writing stories that could have been written yesterday." and so i researched. i found that Aldrich has been given a lot of credit: the first appearance of a detective in english literature (The Stillwater Tragedy - 1880), and that critics feel the semi-autobiographical novel he wrote in 1870 (The Story of a Bad Boy) anticipated Huck Finn. All this despite the fact he was primarily a poet (rhyming verse), editor, and writer of travel books. i began to suspect that Aldrich was eldritch. i kept on, looking through materials at Project Gutenberg, hoping to find other stories by Aldrich like "A Woman Alone With Her Soul" but nothing read like it did. i kept looking for the collected volume cited in the sources and acknowledgements of my anthology, and found that all 322 pages of vol. 9 had been scanned by somebody at the University of Toronto library (for some reason i found this creepy) and posted online. there was a 'search text' function so i copied the title of the story in and there were no matches. i was confused. i flipped through pages of the book; again, nothing read like this story read, or was as short as it was... nothing matched up. i stopped, pondered, and did another search, this time for the story's title, and found it in a listing of sci fi stories had the following note: "this is most likely by Jorge Luís Borges" with no further elaboration. i found this statement on a couple of other sites, and then i began to think that Borges was making me believe in books that didn't actually exist again (his own "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" appears in this anthology, with its tricksy encyclopedia). i wrote Ben, asked him if he had written the story, told him that Borges might have, apologized for bothering him, and searched on, and finally came upon a trail of emails by a Dennis Hien, from a mailing list called Project Wombat that gave me something. somebody had been searching for the shortest sci fi story ever written there, at Project Wombat, in 2004 and Hien did some research (though he couldn't find the initial conversation string... the text i read was from 2007. it turned out another one of my favourites, Dashiell Hammett, in an introduction to an anthology he had edited called "Creeps By Night" in 1931, said, "One of my own favorites is that attributed, I believe, to Thomas Bailey Aldrich A woman is sitting alone in a house. She knows she is alone in the whole world: every other living thing is dead. The doorbell rings. That has, particularly, the restraint that is almost invariably the mark of the effective weird tale.", There is no reference to the title of the story as it appears in my anthology, and I will need to seek out the Hammett anthology to see if it can provide any further clues. My gut tells me that Borges/Ocampo/Casares must have stumbled upon this story in Hammett's anthology, at some point in the nine years that elapsed between the publication of the two, and decided to use it. and yet, this story was not in the vol. 9 text. but Hien cast further light (i imagine through his own researches because no references were included) by revealing that the kernel of the story idea was Aldrich's, that it was published in his essays "Leaves from a Notebook" collected in a book called the Ponkapag Papers, which was in its turn collected in that self-same volume 9, that i had discovered on line. The text that Aldrich wrote is as follows: "Imagine all human beings swept off the face of the earth excepting one man. Imagine this man in some vast city, New York or London. Imagine him on the third or fourth day of his solitude sitting in a house and hearing a ring at the door-bell!" and so, this is not the story attributed to Aldrich i had read. it is a seed yes, but the differences are striking, and it is not the idea, but that micro short that resounds in my mind (and in others' minds: i found a lengthy blog entry from 2007 dissecting the tiny gem in the course of my research). it seems to me that this was as close as Borges felt he could get to finding the genesis of the story that Hammett shared, that originated with Aldrich, and so he referenced the works vol 9, and it seems likely that Borges invented the title, and finally, led me on this merry chase seventy years later. i wonder if Hammett actually read the story the way he quoted it or if i respond to it because this version is his version of what he had read in Aldrich. i still have many questions and am doubtful that i will find answers. i realize this is not really a review of the Book of Fantasy. i am after all, only on page 16, and there are many stories to read but this chase has reminded me of my passion for Borges, and how razor-sharp the line between truth and fiction is, that life is mystery, and reverberating in my mind is PKD quoting Dante in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer: God is the book of the universe". i am tempted to give the book five stars right now though. i mean, how can i not? ******************************************************** i just realized i never came back and finished the review for this. i did end up changing my rating to four stars: i was really blown away by some of these stories: - "the man who collected the first of september", 1973 by tor age bringsvaerd i've already re-read several times since first finding it in this book, and can't quite get over it. - b. traven, another favourite of mine has a story "macario" included which i'd never read before that has really reverberated in my mind, and i can't recommend enough. then there was a sleeper: months later, walking down the street, i found myself preoccupied by the recollection of the story called "the horses of abdera" by leopoldo lugones (i've subsequently realized borges had written a biography about him). i was also thrilled to find included stories i already adored by may sinclair, rudyard kipling, saki, and wilde, and of course, borges himself. there was also the inclusion of a waugh story called "the man who liked dickens" which i recognized as the ending of his novel a handful of dust, which had seemed out of keeping with the rest of the novel when i first read it (my review of that is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...) finding the publication history made me realize waugh had published that story on its own before marrying it to his novel which really explains a lot. another literary mystery solved! i did not love the story contributions of borges' fellow editors, bioy casares, and ocampo as much. i found some of the minor authors they added to the collection perhaps could not stand up against the finesse and craft of the greats i've already mentioned, and others by our old pals tolstoy, poe, and de maupassant. i'm pretty sure borges only loved the ones i do, anyway. :) that said, i think this is an impressive collection that is a requisite for anyone who loves the bent, and the strange, the fable and the twilight. ***************************************************** yet another update: i just found out something exciting! as i said in the review, and my status updates as i read this collection, how thrilling it was to find that borges liked the same stories as i do, and i was convinced that he selected the ones i liked best. as i noted above, one selected was from a collection i had happened upon six months earlier, the haunting short story by may sinclair, "where their fire is not quenched" i was looking up obscure books today, and decided i needed to try to find may sinclair's novel, the dark night, and while i was searching, this came up on alibris: Cuentos Memorables Segun Jorge Luis Borges by Jorge Luis Borges In a 1935 magazine article, celebrated author Jorge Luis Borges explained why he chose Mary Sinclair's short story "Donde su fuego nunca se apaga" as the most memorable story hed ever read, while he mentioned 11 other of his personal favorites. Inspired by Borges statements in the article, this anthology gathers an array of magnificent short stories by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, and O. Henry, among others. http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?qwo... how exciting! will we love the same o. henry story? I'LL FIND OUT!!! :) This work by Maureen de Sousa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    81 stories in 384 pages. That averages out to 4.74 pages per story, but in fact half of the pieces here are roughly a page or less - fragments, folk tales, myths, very brief allegories, and so on. I can’t fully articulate why this was so disappointing to me, but it made the book feel rather empty and ephemeral. Of the remaining, fuller stories, many just fell flat for me, and several others I read relatively recently in Alberto Manguel’s Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature (a collectio 81 stories in 384 pages. That averages out to 4.74 pages per story, but in fact half of the pieces here are roughly a page or less - fragments, folk tales, myths, very brief allegories, and so on. I can’t fully articulate why this was so disappointing to me, but it made the book feel rather empty and ephemeral. Of the remaining, fuller stories, many just fell flat for me, and several others I read relatively recently in Alberto Manguel’s Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature (a collection about which I had similar reservations, and which appears to have been inspired by this one). It also bears noting that the 1988 English edition published by Carroll & Graf, with an introduction by Ursula K. Le Guin, has a truly astounding number of typos, climaxing with the transposition of a number of pages at the end of the Oscar Wilde story. The first edition of this book came out in Argentina in 1940 (Antología de la Literatura Fantástica), and I’ve seen it claimed that this is the first anthology to use the word “fantasy” to describe a collection of “genre” works, but I don’t know how accurate that is. I also don’t know if it was Le Guin or the original editors who selected the newer materials added to this edition - it appears that updated versions were published in 1965 and 1976. Because I love quantifying things, I will also tell you that of these 81 pieces, 15 are by Latin American authors, 57 are by European/North Americans, 9 are by Asians, and 0 are by Africans, Australians, or Native Americans. Note that several of the European-written works are actually derived from Asian folklore, though. Maybe “slight” is the word I’m looking for to describe many of these. Borges once said that there is “a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition," and while I’m not sure that this is a sentiment with which I agree, I can see how it would lead to a collection of this sort. For example, the following selection from James Frazer’s study of mythology, The Golden Bough , does not, in my view, add anything to the collection, or impart much of anything to the reader, it just proves how wide-ranging and useless the wisps collected here can be: A fourth story, taken down near Oldenburg in Holstein, tells of a jolly dame that ate and drank and lived right merrily and had all that heart could desire, and she wished to live always. For the first hundred years all went well, but after that she began to shrink and shrivel up, till at last she could neither walk nor stand nor eat nor drink. But die she could not. At first they fed her as if she were a little child, but when she grew smaller and smaller they put her in a glass bottle and hung her up in the church. And there she still hangs, in the church of St Mary, at Lübeck. She is as small as a mouse, but once a year she stirs. If you find reading something like that without any kind of context enjoyable, this book is for you - “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like,” and so on. This quote, often attributed to Abraham Lincoln for some reason, actually originates with Max Beerbohm, which brings me to the part of the review where I actually talk about the stories that resonated with me enough to bother writing about. The stories are presented alphabetically by author, so just to give you a better idea of what we’re dealing with here, here’s what we start with: We open with “Sennin,” (1952) by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, which is a 3-page reworked koan about a wanderer who wishes to become a sennin (a kind of wise, mystical hermit). A doctor and his wife lie and say they will teach him to do so if he acts as their slave for 20 years - after this period is over the wife tells him to leap from the top of a tree, but instead of killing him his belief transforms him into a sennin. Next is Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s “A Woman Alone with Her Soul” (1912), about which you should read Maureen’s review. This is followed by Leonid Andreyev’s “Ben-Tobith” (1916, text available here as “On The Day of the Crucifixion”), which is the story of a man in Jerusalem who has a crippling toothache on the day of the Crucifixion. John Aubrey’s “The Phantom Basket” (1696) is another entry that I can just reproduce in its entirety: Mr Trahern B.D. (Chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgman Lord Keeper) a Learn’d and sober Person, was the Son of a Shoe-maker in Hereford: One night as he lay in Bed, the Moon shining very bright, he saw the Phantome of one of the Apprentices sitting in a Chair in his red Wastcoat, and Headband about his Head, and Strap upon his Knee; which Apprentice was really abed and asleep with another Fellow-apprentice in the same Chamber, and saw him. The Fellow was Living 1671. Another time, as he was in Bed he saw a Basket come Sailing in the Air along by the Valence of his Bed; I think he said there was Fruit in the Basket: It was a Phantome. From himself. J. G. Ballard’s “The Drowned Giant” (1964) examines, in a quintessentially Ballardian clinically-detached manner, the decay of a giant human corpse that washes up on the beach following a storm. Initially an object of great spectacle, it soon becomes just another part of the landscape, vandalized by teenagers, treated as a playground by children, dismantled by profiteers, then taken for granted and eventually forgotten altogether by everyone except for the narrator. Which brings us back around to Max Beerbohm. His “Enoch Soames” (1916), also collected in Black Water, is a fantastic examination of a desperately untalented author who sells his soul to the devil in order to have a glimpse of his place in posterity by transporting him briefly to the reading room of the British Museum 100 years hence: June 3rd, 1997. It’s also a delightfully Borgesian approach to metafiction: the narrator of the story is Max Beerbohm of 1916 (a real person), looking back on his association with Enoch Soames (fiction) around the turn of the century. The artist William Rothenstein (real) also figures in the story, in which he draws a portrait of the fictional Soames, which the real Rothenstein actually did create in 1916, backdated to the 1890s. In the future, the one reference Soames can find to himself is as the fictional centerpiece of the story “Enoch Soames,” by Max Beerbohm. From the vantage point of 2013 I can also report that on June 3rd, 1997, the magician Teller (of Penn and fame), waiting with a crowd of fellow Beerbohm fans in the Reading Room at the appointed time, saw a man matching the description of Soames looking desperately through the bookstacks (later reported in the article “Being a faithful account of the events of the designated day, when the man who had disappeared was expected briefly to return” - some have claimed this man was an actor hired by Teller, but Teller is keeping his mouth shut). If only this collection had had more of this kind of labyrinthine metafiction, but I think it’s just this one, Aldrich’s story, and one other presented with a fictional author, which name is presumably a pseudonym for one of the editors. I’ll write up some things about the other stories that stuck with me enough to invite comment later.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lady Mayfair

    "....it was a wet, ungenial summer...." One night, in a villa by Lake Geneva in 1818 three friends sat talking together, telling ghost stories. They were Mary Shelley, her husband Percy, and Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont was probably with them, and the strange young Dr. Polidori (uncle of Dante Gabriel Rossetti)- and they told awful tales, and Mary Shelley was frightened. 'We will each,' cried Byron, 'write a ghost story!' So Mary went away and thought about it, fruitlessly, until a few nights lat "....it was a wet, ungenial summer...." One night, in a villa by Lake Geneva in 1818 three friends sat talking together, telling ghost stories. They were Mary Shelley, her husband Percy, and Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont was probably with them, and the strange young Dr. Polidori (uncle of Dante Gabriel Rossetti)- and they told awful tales, and Mary Shelley was frightened. 'We will each,' cried Byron, 'write a ghost story!' So Mary went away and thought about it, fruitlessly, until a few nights later she dreamed a nightmare in which a 'pale student' used strange arts and machineries to arouse from unlife the 'hideous phantasm of a man.' For the literati, this wet, ungenial summer has become the stuff of legends. It was the night that Frankenstein's Monster had been created. But then one night in Buenos Aires in 1937 three friends sat talking together about dark fantastic literature. These were Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and his wife, Silvina Ocampo. The product of this night is their own version of Phantasmagoriana, the book Byron and his companions drew inspiration from in writing their own stories. This, The Book of Fantasy is a strong compilation of short horror stories, some familiar, some wildly exotic, there are interconnections between fantasists and one can sometimes pinpoint who made the selection, which is rather endearing. Thomas Carlyle's An Actual Authentic Ghost couldn't have been selected by anyone but Borges, there is a clear whiff of it in his own Burning Man story. G.K. Chesterton's Tree of Pride makes the cut as well, have never read it before and was quite taken with it, rather a Scary story, reminiscent of Charles Godfrey Leland's poem The Peacock, Chesterton must have been aware of it. Santiago Dabove's Being Dust is a beautifully written story about a man who falls off his horse near a cemetery only to be gradually incorporated into the surrounding landscape. ". . . How sad! To be almost like the earth and still have hopes of moving, of loving. . . . But it is not easy to be content, and we would rub out what is written in the book of destiny if it hadn't already happened to us. . . . But all this is nothing but a sophism. Each time 'I die more like a man and that death covers me in thorns and layers of chlorophyll." Arthur Machen, for whom Borges and I share a common enthusiasm, is also present with The Ceremony, a story about a young woman who takes up witchcraft (willingly or not?) at a mysterious Celtic cross. There has always been an esoteric context to Machen, his concepts relate more to the satanic than the celestial, he is fascinated with the occult, Paganism, a return to the standing stone of his native Welsh countryside. I read it three times, it only got more scary with each read. Other notable mentions: - H.A. Murena's The Cat, disturbing. - Giovanni Papini (who translated Berkeley and Schopenhauer) and his The Man that Belonged to Me. - Petronius, writer of the Satyricon presents The Wolf, a story about a man who "pissed a ring around his clothes and turned into a wolf." - Emanuel Swedenborg's A Theologian In Death. - Voltaire's Memnon - Jean Cocteau's Look of Death - the quadrinity of Ws: Waugh, Wharton, Wilde, Wollstonecraft. Overall: 🖤

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rhys

    I have been dipping into this volume for the past two decades (I bought it in 1991) but this is the first time I have read it all the way through from the beginning to the end... It's a magnificent anthology of fantastical fiction from many ages and cultures and it introduced me to many writers I previously had known nothing about. For instance, the opening story in the book, 'Sennin' by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, so impressed me that I went out and bought an Akutagawa collection published by Penguin C I have been dipping into this volume for the past two decades (I bought it in 1991) but this is the first time I have read it all the way through from the beginning to the end... It's a magnificent anthology of fantastical fiction from many ages and cultures and it introduced me to many writers I previously had known nothing about. For instance, the opening story in the book, 'Sennin' by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, so impressed me that I went out and bought an Akutagawa collection published by Penguin Classics... Other authors represented in this anthology that particularly enthused me (but whom I had been unaware existed before finding them here) include: Tor Åge Bringsvaerd, Arturo Cancela, Pilar de Lusarreta, Santiago Dabove, Macedonio Fernández, Elena Garro, Leopoldo Lugones, Silvina Ocampo, Giovanni Papini, Carlos Peralta, Manuel Peyrou, and the brilliant Juan Rodolfo Wilcock. But this anthology also made me regard other authors already familiar to me in a new light. I thought the Edith Wharton piece was surprisingly good. Lord Dunsany, Max Beerbohm, J.G. Ballard, Oscar Wilde, Sanki, even Edgar Allan Poe seemed somehow transformed by being put into the company of writers from so many diverse cultures. This anthology is a classic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Well to begin with this is not Fantasy as in the modern sense but tales of the fantastical but in my opinion even that is using the term loosely. I feel that this book of stories chosen by Jorge Luis Borges and his friends were either very personal to them or appreciate on a scholarly level. As the feeling towards them was not shared; only a few of the stories i enjoyed. The compilation started of okay and went down hill from there. They story don stand the passage of time as they are from the e Well to begin with this is not Fantasy as in the modern sense but tales of the fantastical but in my opinion even that is using the term loosely. I feel that this book of stories chosen by Jorge Luis Borges and his friends were either very personal to them or appreciate on a scholarly level. As the feeling towards them was not shared; only a few of the stories i enjoyed. The compilation started of okay and went down hill from there. They story don stand the passage of time as they are from the early 20th late 19th century and further back or are appreciated by at different culture level, as i found them dull, predictable, overly god fearing religious or just stupid. Many of the stories are of the same theme and become repetitive with little or no variance or surprise. I am glad i borrowed this book and didn't buy as it has been one of the most disappointing compilations I've read and is doubly disappointing as the book contains a few authors whose other work i have enjoyed. This book comes as academias version of fantastical tales

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robin Goodfellow

    Many interesting stories and odds n ends. This is really more of 3 star for me, except that the highlights were so excellent I had to grant them an extra star. The stories by JG Ballard, Edith Wharton, Tolstoy, and B Traven stood out among those I was unfamiliar with.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    2.5 hhsmNskldnanahsgakalndbeb 2 YEARS after starting this one I finally finished!! Really... I should just start giving up on books... But in the end I read some pretty solid short stories.. Buut overall I didn’t like the book :/

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Only a few memorable stories, the rest were odd or dull or too old or too foreign for my understanding. There were one or two that will stick with me, so it was worth the long read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    The metaphysicians of Tlon are not looking for truth, or even for an approximation of it; they are after a kind of amazement. They consider metaphysics a branch of fantastic literature.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scribe

    The term "Fantasy" in modern culture seems to have become something of a twisted niche - often now associated with lands of Tolkien-style creatures and epic battles. But this collection of short stories, put together by Borges, Ocampo and Casares, returns to the roots of what it means to be "fantastic". The compendium, gathered from all over time and space, is large and diverse, but brought together through a simple desire to explore the imagination. Folk tales, Chinese dream stories, ghost stor The term "Fantasy" in modern culture seems to have become something of a twisted niche - often now associated with lands of Tolkien-style creatures and epic battles. But this collection of short stories, put together by Borges, Ocampo and Casares, returns to the roots of what it means to be "fantastic". The compendium, gathered from all over time and space, is large and diverse, but brought together through a simple desire to explore the imagination. Folk tales, Chinese dream stories, ghost stories, strange animals, weird letters, bizarre furniture... I especially enjoyed some of the really short tales, a couple of pages long. Some of the stories are a little hardgoing, but a) none of them are so long you can't just read through them to the next one, b) some of the turn out to be great stories by the end. I was going to read this then pass it on, but think I'll keep it now. Worth picking up a copy if you see it. For the record, I particularly enjoyed these (in case you haven't time to read them all, or just want to Google some): The Drowned Giant - J.G. Ballard Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius - Borges himself, always a classic House Taken Over - Julio Cortazar Earth's Holocaust - Nathaniel Hawthorne The Monkey's Paw - W. W. Jacobs The Wizard Passed Over - Infante Don Juan Manuel Who Knows? - Guy de Maupassant The Blind Spot - Barry Perowne The Encounter - an old Chinese story Macario - B Traven The Infinite Dream of Pao-yu - Ta'ao Chan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Wise

    A collection of eighty-one pieces selected by friends and literary colleagues Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina Ocampo, and Adolfo Bioy Casares, following their discussion one Buenos Aires night in 1937 regarding “fantastic literature.” This is the English version of the Spanish anthology they originally published in 1938 as Antologia de la Literatura Fantástica. While many of these pieces are little snippets with little or no explanation of their source or background except for the author’s name, ther A collection of eighty-one pieces selected by friends and literary colleagues Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina Ocampo, and Adolfo Bioy Casares, following their discussion one Buenos Aires night in 1937 regarding “fantastic literature.” This is the English version of the Spanish anthology they originally published in 1938 as Antologia de la Literatura Fantástica. While many of these pieces are little snippets with little or no explanation of their source or background except for the author’s name, there are also many longer pieces which can be considered complete short stories. A good portion of them were by English-language writers (which were published here as originally written in English), while there was also a good representation of Latin American and East Asian authors. The real stand-outs were “Enoch Soames” by Max Beerbohm; “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs; “The Atonement” by Silvina Ocampo; “The Man Who Belonged to Me” by Giovanni Papini; “Macario” by B. Traven; and “The Man Who Liked Dickens” by Evelyn Waugh.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roger Boyle

    I had to get this too for Nigel's Halloween event. I've been a fan of Borges for as long as I can recall - he was a cult vogue in the 70s and I was an enthusiastic follower. I think this was a good choice. This is a long anthology - some of the pieces are well known or by well known authors; others are from people I have never heard of (often translated from Spanish); others again (I A Ireland?) might not even exist. While I have not read all the pieces, I have read most and they are of uniformly I had to get this too for Nigel's Halloween event. I've been a fan of Borges for as long as I can recall - he was a cult vogue in the 70s and I was an enthusiastic follower. I think this was a good choice. This is a long anthology - some of the pieces are well known or by well known authors; others are from people I have never heard of (often translated from Spanish); others again (I A Ireland?) might not even exist. While I have not read all the pieces, I have read most and they are of uniformly high quality and reflect the title well. Anyone who knows Borges will be reassured by the nature of many of the pieces - his imagination was well out of the ordinary and so his interpretation of "fantasy" is often esoteric. I will continue to pick up any volume with his name on.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chak

    The author list in this is unbelievable! JG Ballard, Jorge Juis Borges, Ray Bradbury, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, Emanuel Swedenborg, Evelyn Waugh, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde, Voltaire, and more!!!!! After reading around 60 pages: I was so excited to start reading this, and I'm finding the stories pointless at best. Just finished the JG Ballard story, which is one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. Well-written, but The author list in this is unbelievable! JG Ballard, Jorge Juis Borges, Ray Bradbury, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, Emanuel Swedenborg, Evelyn Waugh, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde, Voltaire, and more!!!!! After reading around 60 pages: I was so excited to start reading this, and I'm finding the stories pointless at best. Just finished the JG Ballard story, which is one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. Well-written, but where was it going? Ugh. Too many good things on my to-read list. Have to give up on this one. May revisit, if for only the Kipling.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    An absolute gem. I've bought this book four or five times now to give away. Let's roll back to say, the 1940's. What are the best fantastical, mystical, ghostly, otherworldly stories that have ever been written? In other words, what inspired and interested Borges? This book. No more to say! Just read it. It's great. You'll see lots of familiar writers and unfamiliar ones too. Primarily European pieces, but also many Latin American legends and fiction, and even some East Asian fairy tales. I doled An absolute gem. I've bought this book four or five times now to give away. Let's roll back to say, the 1940's. What are the best fantastical, mystical, ghostly, otherworldly stories that have ever been written? In other words, what inspired and interested Borges? This book. No more to say! Just read it. It's great. You'll see lots of familiar writers and unfamiliar ones too. Primarily European pieces, but also many Latin American legends and fiction, and even some East Asian fairy tales. I doled it out to myself over several months, reading story by story one at a time, but sadly it eventually finished.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A charming collection of early fantasy stories before there was a name for the genre. Unsurprisingly, given Borges and his crew, there are very few stories by women. But I enjoyed that there were a large number of stories by Argentinian authors I hadn’t heard of. Most of the stories skew more into the category of “is it magic or isn’t it,” like uncanny coincidences, and some have elements of horror or just a vague unsettlingness. My absolute favorite was “The Man Who Collected the First of Septe A charming collection of early fantasy stories before there was a name for the genre. Unsurprisingly, given Borges and his crew, there are very few stories by women. But I enjoyed that there were a large number of stories by Argentinian authors I hadn’t heard of. Most of the stories skew more into the category of “is it magic or isn’t it,” like uncanny coincidences, and some have elements of horror or just a vague unsettlingness. My absolute favorite was “The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973,” by Tor Åge Bringsvaerd.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    As with any anthology, the entries are of uneven quality and hold different levels of interest for me. The main problem, though, was that the edition I had from the library was one of the worst edited books I have ever seen. The typos were so numerous that sometimes I couldn't figure out what was being said, and at one point a number of pages were completely transposed, so that the ending of a story appeared four pages before the end! As with any anthology, the entries are of uneven quality and hold different levels of interest for me. The main problem, though, was that the edition I had from the library was one of the worst edited books I have ever seen. The typos were so numerous that sometimes I couldn't figure out what was being said, and at one point a number of pages were completely transposed, so that the ending of a story appeared four pages before the end!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Panno

    Ok so I read the english version of this anthology although the only version of it I could find on goodreads is spanish(?). It has a few interesting stories and a few others that are merely a paragraph or sentence long. The one thing that ALMOST all of these stories have in common is that, once again recently, THEY ARE NOT FANTASY! They're barely even speculative fiction. I'll admit there are some off kilter stories here by famous writers but they just don't qualify(to me) as fantasy. Ok so I read the english version of this anthology although the only version of it I could find on goodreads is spanish(?). It has a few interesting stories and a few others that are merely a paragraph or sentence long. The one thing that ALMOST all of these stories have in common is that, once again recently, THEY ARE NOT FANTASY! They're barely even speculative fiction. I'll admit there are some off kilter stories here by famous writers but they just don't qualify(to me) as fantasy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marcelo

    I loved the fantastic tale's presented by Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina OCampo. It isn't a book only about fantastic literature, there are stories talking about purpose of our life, politics and what is real or not. Tales like "Histórias Universais" from Olaf Stapledon remembers us about infinite possibilities of our world or Tsao Hsue-Kin who created the tale "O sonho infinito de Pao Yu" which we feel we can't scape from the dream. I loved the fantastic tale's presented by Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina OCampo. It isn't a book only about fantastic literature, there are stories talking about purpose of our life, politics and what is real or not. Tales like "Histórias Universais" from Olaf Stapledon remembers us about infinite possibilities of our world or Tsao Hsue-Kin who created the tale "O sonho infinito de Pao Yu" which we feel we can't scape from the dream.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    An outstanding anthology of "fantastic" fiction compiled by a dream team of Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and Silvina Ocampo. Because the book (my edition, anyhow) was published in the U.S. by a genre press, it suffers from poor design, an awful cover, and numerous typos. It's a treasure, nevertheless. An outstanding anthology of "fantastic" fiction compiled by a dream team of Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and Silvina Ocampo. Because the book (my edition, anyhow) was published in the U.S. by a genre press, it suffers from poor design, an awful cover, and numerous typos. It's a treasure, nevertheless.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Harold

    Historic as the first (or one of the first) anthologies to employ the term Fantasy as a genre. It's a collection of short stories selected by Borges, Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo. for me, as with most short story collections, it's the type of book you keep around and pick up when you're in the mood for a short story. Historic as the first (or one of the first) anthologies to employ the term Fantasy as a genre. It's a collection of short stories selected by Borges, Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo. for me, as with most short story collections, it's the type of book you keep around and pick up when you're in the mood for a short story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Got this at the library, because of a story from Macedonio Fernandez that was referenced in another book I was reading. That story, "Tantalia," ended up being kind of a disappointment, but lots of other cool stuff in here. Got this at the library, because of a story from Macedonio Fernandez that was referenced in another book I was reading. That story, "Tantalia," ended up being kind of a disappointment, but lots of other cool stuff in here.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Janessa Lantz

    A wonderful collection of short stories from writers around the world. These were three of my favorite: The Drowned Giant by J.G. Ballard The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges A wonderful collection of short stories from writers around the world. These were three of my favorite: The Drowned Giant by J.G. Ballard The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Some junky translating going on here and there, but for the most part a great collection.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    oh just a real beautiful dreamy book full of great myths + fantasies

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I will probably never finish this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jami

    This book was lent to me by a friend. I'm finding it difficult to read. It's very depressing. It's reminding me why I tend to shy away from fantasy that is a about "god". This book was lent to me by a friend. I'm finding it difficult to read. It's very depressing. It's reminding me why I tend to shy away from fantasy that is a about "god".

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Ferrante

    Collected stories all the way back to the Roman Empire. Very different. Literary. Some stories still surprisingly suspenseful and easy to read. Long lost masters of fantasy and light horror.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Juan

    A great collection of short stories in the fantasy genre. Especially one chilling story name Enoch Soames by Max Beerbohm.

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