Notes on Imaginary Books

Jorge Luis Borges, Foreword, Fictions, 1944

It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books — serring out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them. That was Carlyle’s procedure in Sartor Resartus, Butler’s in The Fair Haven — though these works suffer under the imperfection that they themselves are books, and not a whit less tautological than the others. A more reasonable, more inept, and more lazy man, I have chosen to write notes on imaginary books.