%%->"...it is clear that there is no classification of the Universe not being arbitrary and full of conjectures. The reason for this is very simple: we do not know what thing the universe is."
%%-->"The Analytical Language of John Wilkins"

'''Jorge Luis Borges''' (1899-1986) is considered the greatest UsefulNotes/{{Argentin|a}}e writer of the twentieth century and an immensely influential author. His short stories, essays and poetry blend truth and fiction in unexpected ways, playing {{Mind Screw}}s on the reader at every turn, and exploring deep philosophical themes (idealism, determinism, infinity, the search for personal identity, fiction vs. reality, humanity vs. divinity...) in a rigorous but entertaining way. He is considered an important precursor and originator of many {{Post Modern|ism}} devices. Borges himself was an Ultraist, a short lived movement that originated in early 20th-century Spain (where Borges arrived around 1920).

Borges became blind due to an inherited disease in his middle age and blindness is a recurring {{Motif|s}} in his later works. Other common motifs are labyrinths, mirrors, libraries, tigers, and daggers. The blind monk Jorge de Burgos in Creator/UmbertoEco's ''Literature/TheNameOfTheRose'' is one allusion to Borges. The blind librarian in ''[[BookOfTheNewSun The Shadow of the Torturer]]'' by Creator/GeneWolfe may be another.

!!! Some of his best known short stories (Borges didn't write any novels) are:

* ''"Literature/TlonUqbarOrbisTertius"'': An AncientConspiracy to create a complete fictional universe is discovered by the [[AuthorStandIn narrator]] in the form of an encyclopedia describing the nation of Uqbar and its mythology about the land of Tlön. Its plan is to [[RewritingReality recreate]] Earth in the form of Tlön by subconsciously persuading everyone that it is true. [[spoiler: They succeed.]]
* Literature/TheLibraryOfBabel: This story describes a universe consisting of a huge, endless library, that contains all possible books (that is to say, all possible combinations of letters, spaces, and punctuation given a certain number of characters per book)-- but arranged with no discernible order or pattern.
* ''"The Garden of Forking Paths"'': The FramingDevice is a spy story set at World War I where TheProtagonist visiting MrExposition who explains the idea of time branching forwards into [[AlternateUniverse Alternate Universes]] [[note]]this story is famous for anticipating the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics[[/note]].
* ''"Death and the Compass"'': A GenreDeconstruction of the DetectiveFiction that seems to follow a ConnectTheDeaths plot -- but with a twist at the end.
* ''"Funes the Memorious"'': After being concussed and paralyzed from the waist down in a riding accident, a young man suddenly finds that he has a literally photographic memory -- he can remember ''everything'' that he has experienced, ''every'' second of ''every'' day of his life, down to the minutest possible detail. As he goes on living, the number of things he remembers continues piling up. This has a very strange effect on the way he sees the world, and after meeting him, Borges' narrator cannot decide whether Funes is CursedWithAwesome or BlessedWithSuck.
* ''"The Aleph"'': A mediocre poet has found in his basement an Aleph, a point that reflects every other point in the universe and from which everything can be seen simultaneously and together... [[MundaneUtility and he uses it to write a poem]].
* ''"The Cult of the Phoenix"'': A group of madmen, outcasts, women, children, and urchins founds a philosophical school that lasts for thousands of years and secretly manipulates all other religions behind the scenes. [[spoiler:They're the good guys.]]
* ''"Averroes's Search"'' An exploration of the TragicDream in the character of Averroes, an Islamic philosopher who hoped to explain Creator/{{Aristotle}}’s works to Islamic culture. [[CultureClash Averroes's problem is that, being confined to the sphere of Islam, he cannot understand the terms “Tragedy” and “Comedy” that constantly pop up in Aristotle’s canon]]. Suddenly there is NoEnding and [[spoiler: Borges is BreakingTheFourthWall to inform us that this story is his own TragicDream, because as a twentieth-century author, he has no better chance of successfully imagining the character of a twelfth-century Arab with nothing better to go on than some literary references.]] This realization forces him to [[spoiler: recognize the RecursiveReality of literature, and conduces Borges to a CreatorBreakdown and his story to a NoEnding because a minor case of AuthorExistenceFailure.]]
* ''"The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths"'': A deconstruction of SealedRoomInTheMiddleOfNowhere: The Prideful King of Babylon mocks the King of Arabia by forcing him to enter his labyrinth. The King of Arabia asks for God's help, [[DeusExMachina and gets out]]. He tells the King of Babylon he knows a better labyrinth and some day he will show it to him. Years later, the Arabian King makes war and dethrones the King of Babylon, [[spoiler: drags him out into the Arabian desert and abandons him there, where he died from thirst and hunger in a "labyrinth with no walls"]].
* ''"The Immortal:"'' A literary agent announces the discovery of a diary of a man that claims to have achieved CompleteImmortality.
* ''"The Dead Man:"'' Borges narrates the seemingly impossible life and death of Benjamín Otalora, a courageous Argentinean hoodlum who emigrated to the frontier and became the leader of a band of smugglers, [[{{Deconstruction}} explaining why it was possible.]]
* ''"Deutsches Requiem:"'' The last testament of Otto Dietrich zur Linde, [[ThoseWackyNazis the one-legged commandant of a Nazi concentration camp]]. After being tried and convicted of crimes against humanity, Zur Linde reflects that while his comrades were mere {{StrawNihilist}}s, he (and Hitler) were real {{Ubermensch}}en, and tries to [[FlingALightIntoTheFuture explain humanity's future]] while he awaits the firing squad; his position is that the violence of Nazi Germany has successfully dethroned and destroyed the weak, hypocritical phantoms of Judaism and Christianity forever... and all it took was the sacrifice of Germany itself.
** Alternatively, ''A twentieth century German TortureTechnician tries in vain, before his execution, to exculpate himself, never suspecting that the secret justification for his life is that he has inspired a writer to create [[ThoseWackyNazis a new trope]]''.

The '''other''' half of his stories are about South Americans knife fighting, such as "The South". He also wrote poetry and literary criticism.

!!! Some of his poems are:

* ''[[http://www.poeticous.com/borges/sherlock-holmes?trans=t&locale=es Sherlock Holmes]]'': A celebration about the GreatDetective that centers about how he managed to survive his CreatorBacklash to the point to [[OutlivedItsCreator Outlive His Creator]]
* [[http://blog.jamzik.com/2006/11/borges-golem.html The Golem]]: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judah_Loew_ben_Bezalel Judá the Lion the rabbi of Prague]], creates a {{Golem}}, [[AIIsACrapshoot but ''it'' is no more than a man imperfect copy]]. At the very end, we have a deconstruction of CreatorBacklash.



!!! Some of his best-known literary essays are:

* ''"Half-Way House" by Ellery Queen'': A simple critique of the rules of MysteryLiterature and how that genre is different from the [[{{Adventure}} Adventure Novel]] or the SpyFiction. Also explains why Ellery Queen works could be considered as GrowingTheBeard on the genre. You can find the quote at the ElleryQueen page.
* Borges explains the LogicBomb in his essay ''The perpetual Race of Achilles and the Turtle''. Zeno's paradox has survived 23 centuries and now could be declared "immortal": ''In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead''. In RealLife Achilles really can outrun the Turtle, but all the mere logic in the world cannot help explain ''why''. At his other essay, "Avatars of the Turtle", he comes to its LogicalExtreme: The fact we cannot solve this paradox acts like a DreamWithinADream, showing us that RealLife is AllJustADream.
-->''Let us admit what all idealists admit: the hallucinatory nature of the world. Let us do what no idealist has done: seek unrealities which confirm that nature. We shall find them, I believe, in the antonomies of Kant and in the dialectic of Zeno.'' The greatest magician (Novalis has memorably written) would be the one who would cast over himself a spell so complete that he would take his own phantasmagorias as autonomous appearances. Would not this be our case? ''In conjecture that this is so: We (the undivided divinity operating within us) have dreamt the world. We have dreamt it as firm, mysterious, visible, ubiquitous in space and durable in time; but in its architecture we have allowed tenuous and eternal crevices of unreason which tell us it is false.''

----
!!This author's works provide examples of:

* AdaptationExpansion: The movie version of ''"Death and the Compass"''; the added material actually makes the story ''more'' of a MindScrew. "Days of Hate", a screenplay adaptation of ''"Emma Zunz"''
* AncientConspiracy: ''"Literature/TlonUqbarOrbisTertius"''; played with in ''"The Cult of the Phoenix"''. Invoked at ''"Death and the Compass"''. Deconstructed in ''"The Lottery in Babylon"'': The conspiracy is so secretive, nobody could be sure it is ancient or not.
* AndIMustScream: Perhaps the only ''positive'' use of this trope ever takes place in "The Secret Miracle".
** Another subversion is ''The Condemned'': In some street of Buenos Aires, two BitPartBadGuys are going to fight. Ezequiel Tabares wants revenge because El Chengo stealed Matilde from him, and impatiently waits for him repeatedly entering a little bar. [[spoiler: Ezequiel can see the new houses and the buses pass through him. He doesn’t realize that he’s DeadAllAlong and condemned to a GroundhogDayLoop of his final moments… and he doesn’t care either. ]] [[ThePowerOfHate His own hate fulfill him]].
* AnimalMotifs: tigers, featured or mentioned in many of his stories. [[spoiler:Particularly important when you consider that one of the Zahir was once a tiger.]]
* ArtifactOfAttraction: ''El Zahir'' is the most fascinating object in the world. It doesn't matter what it is - in this case, it's a scarred coin, but there's always one Zahir in the world at any one time (but God is good and doesn't let two things be the Zahir at the same time). ''Zahir'' is an Arabic word meaning "the obvious meaning," "the conspicuous" or "something that cannot be ignored."
** Later, Borges wrote that one of the characters of this tale, Teodelina Villar, was a deconstruction of this trope: Who could be fascinating to anyone in RealLife? A ShallowLoveInterest, someone who nobody (not even the guy who is in love with her) can define ''why'' is he in love: Teodelina was a RichInDollarsPoorInSense RichBitch when she was young, and then she was a FallenPrincess. Even when Borges describes her as pretty stupid, he claims to love her, even when he cannot justify why, except because Borges admit he is a snob.
** This trope is deconstructed again at ''"Deutsches Requiem:"'' [[ThoseWackyNazis Otto Dietrich Zur Linde]], [[StateSec director of a concentration camp]], realizes that he could invoke this trope as a form of ColdBloodedTorture. He even describes this method, [[AndSomeOtherStuff but an editor censors it:]]
-->''I had realized many years before I met David Jerusalem that [[ArtifactOfAttraction everything in the world can be the seed of a possible hell; a face, a word, a compass, an advertisement for cigarettes—anything can drive a person insane if that person cannot manage to put it out of his mind. Wouldn't a man be mad if he constantly had before his mind's eye the map of Hungary?]] I decided to apply this principle to the disciplinary regimen of our house, and—'' [--4--]... [[ColdBloodedTorture ''In late 1942, Jerusalem went insane; on March 1, 1943, he succeeded in killing himself'']].
-->[--4--] [[AndSomeOtherStuff ''Here, the excision of a number of lines has been unavoidable. Ed.'']]
** ''The Disk'', a woodcutter once met an old man who claimed to be King of the sects, and to prove it show him the disk of Odin, that has but one side. There is not another thing on earth that has but one side. The woodcutter wants it and [[spoiler: kills the old man, who left the disk on the floor. The woodcutter says he is still looking for the disk after many long years]]
* AscendedFanfic: "The End" and "A Biography of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz" are expansions on [[spoiler: ''Literature/MartinFierro'']].
* AuthorExistenceFailure: "Averroes's Search": A subversion, when Borges has his CreatorBreakdown, he stops believing in the characters of this story, forcing a NoEnding.
* AuthorStandIn: Borges doubles as narrator in "Literature/TlonUqbarOrbisTertius", "The Aleph", "Funes the Memorious", "The Other", "The Other Death", and several other stories.
* TheBadGuyWins: [[spoiler: Arguably, "Garden of Forking Paths". Definitively, "Death and the Compass", "The Dead Man"]]
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: "The Immortal", in which [[spoiler:{{Homer}} has become immortal.]]
* BigBad: [[spoiler: Azevedo Bandeira]] in "The Dead Man", [[spoiler: Red Scharlach]] in "Death and the Compass".
* BilingualBonus: There is a famous Brahms composition called ''Ein deutsches requiem'' that could be translated as ''A german requiem'', but the title of one of Borges' stories is "''Deutsches Requiem''" -- "A requiem ''for'' Germany". The tale is told by a Nazi who admits that his party has destroyed their own country.
* BlessedWithSuck: "Funes the Memorious", a story about a man who can remember absolutely everything he experiences, damning him to be tortured by the memory of every last detail of every single fraction of a second he ever lives through.
* BrownNote: "The Zahir".
* TheChessmaster: [[spoiler: Red Scharlach]] in "Death and the Compass"; [[spoiler:Azevedo Bandeira]] in "The Dead Man"; [[spoiler:James Alexander Nolan]] in "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero"; [[spoiler:Eric Einarsson]] in "The Bribe".
* ClingyMacguffin: "The Zahir."
* CreatorBreakdown: '' "Averroes's Search" '': Subverted when Borges realizes he has broke the [[MutuallyFictional Stable Fictional Loop]] and incurred in an [[OntologicalMystery Ontological Paradox]], the short story suffers a NoEnding.
* ConnectTheDeaths: "Death and the Compass".
* CthulhuMythos: "There Are More Things", written in memory of Lovecraft. Incidentally, Borges considered Lovecraft more like an involuntary parodist of Poe.
* CultureClash: Combined with PopCultureIsolation in "Averroes's Search" to explain why Averroes, an Islamic philosopher, had trouble translating Aristotle.
* DelayedRippleEffect: "The Other Death".
* {{Determinator}}: Deconstructed in "The Garden of Forking Paths", "The Shape of the Sword" and "Emma Zunz". The protagonists had a goal and they will cross the DespairEventHorizon to achieve it, only to ask themselves if WasItReallyWorthIt for the rest of their lives. The protagonist of "The Other Death" achieved his goal, [[RedemptionEqualsDeath but just at the moment of his death after trying for it all his life]]. The narrator [[EsotericHappyEnding thinks nobody could be happier than him]].
* {{Doppelganger}}: "The Other" and "August 25, 1983".
* DreamWeaver: "The Circular Ruins"
* The Empire: England and Germany:
** "The Garden of Forking Paths"'' the FramingDevice is a TrenchcoatBrigade type of SpyFiction in World War I, where a Chinese is obliged to spy for Germany, and is chased by an Irish agent working for the English. The Chinese reflects that for him, Germany is a barbarian country (maybe excepting Goethe) and the Irish agent must surely know that his masters despise him for being an Irishman, but they are both still obliged to be the {{UnwittingPawn}}s of countries they hate.
** "The Shape of the Sword" and "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero": The protagonists of those stories are part of the Irish LaResistance.
** "The Man on the Threshold": A British government official in TheRaj investigates the disappearance of a judge. [[spoiler: LaResistance kidnapped him to judge him for being an EvilColonialist HangingJudge]].
* FallenPrincess: Teodelina Villar from "The Zahir".
* GoingNative: "Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden" contrasts two opposite examples of this trope.
* GreatBigBookOfEverything[=/=]TomeOfEldritchLore: "The Book of Sand".
* HehHehYouSaidX: ''"The Cult of the Phoenix"'':
--> ''There are no decent words to name it, but it is understood that all words name it, or rather, inevitably allude to it; I might be speaking in a conversation and the adepts would suddenly smile or become uncomfortable, because they felt that I had unknowingly touched on the Secret.''
* LuredIntoATrap: In "Death and the Compass", [[spoiler:the entire ConnectTheDeaths plot is bait to lure the detective to a location where his enemy can kill him]].
* MagicRealism: many of his stories are in this genre, and he was part of the so-called "Latin American Boom" that helped popularize it.
** Arguably, he's also one of the founders of it and by far one of the most well known, along with GabrielGarciaMarquez.
* MassiveMultiplayerScam: [[spoiler: "The Dead Man"]], [[spoiler: "The Man on the Threshold"]], [[spoiler: "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero"]].
* MeaningfulName: Plenty, often combined with ShoutOut. For example, Carlos Argentino Daneri in "The Aleph" is a play on '''Dan'''te Alighi'''eri''' (his cousin is called Beatriz), and Pedro Damián in "The Other Death" references medieval philosopher Pier Damiani, as [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in the story itself.
* MightyWhitey: [[spoiler: Deconstructed in]] "The Dead Man".
** Subverted in "The Gospel According to Mark", when the family of backcountry illiterates to whom the protagonist has been reading the Bible [[spoiler:decide to crucify him in hopes of being forgiven for their sins]].
* MindScrew: Where to start?
** Special mention goes to "Averroes's Search". In it, the Islamic philosopher Averroes investigates a Greek translation and ponders the meaning of "tragedy" and "comedy", which he can't understand because he lives in a culture in which the art of dramatic performance doesn't exist. After hearing with some guests a story about China and the performers that live there and CompletelyMissingthePoint about the whole "acting" thing, he starts meditating and eventually has a sudden realization about the meaning of "tragedy" and "comedy", [[spoiler:which turns out to be wrong]]. He then [[spoiler: disappears, as do his house and all those that were in it, without leaving a trace.]] Borges then explains within the story that he himself had to understand Averroes to write the story, and like Averroes, had no real chance of doing so. The writer, [[spoiler: could no longer believe in Averroes as a character and he naturally disappeared completely along with his house.]]
* MockMillionaire: At his prologue of Thorstein Veblen's ''[[RichInDollarsPoorInSense Theory Of The Leisure Class]]'' (The reader can find more about this book at ConspicuousConsumption, RealLife) Borges shows us a harsh critic for Argentinean society:
-->''Veblen thought and wrote this book in the [[{{Eagleland}} United States]]. [[{{UsefulNotes/Argentina}} Between us,]] the phenomenon of the leisure class [[UpToEleven is more serious]]. Except for the very poor, [[MockMillionaire every Argentine pretends to belong to that class]]. As a child, I have known [[{{Determinator}} families during the hot summer months hiding out in their homes, to make people believe that they vacationed in a]] [[BigFancyHouse hypothetical summer village]] or in the city of Montevideo. One woman confided to me her intention to [[MockGuffin decorate the hall with a signed painting, certainly not by virtue of calligraphy]].''
* MortalityEnsues: The protagonist of "The Immortal" finds a river that makes anyone who drinks from it immortal; after around a thousand years he [[spoiler:and the other immortals]] gets bored and goes off on a [[spoiler:ultimately successful]] search for a hypothetical sister river that will make him mortal again.
* MotiveMisidentification: "The Death and the Compass": GreatDetective thinks the DiabolicalMastermind is looking for a MagicalIncantation. The real EvilPlan is more sinister (and logical).
* NoEnding: "Averroes's Search" ends with all the characters and his surroundings suddenly disappearing, except maybe the Guadalquivir River.
** "There Are More Things", although written like a Lovecraft story, abruptly ends two-thirds of the way through its ostensible plot.
* NonsenseClassification: His fake Chinese encyclopedia, the ''Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge'', with its classification of animals: (a) those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's-hair brush; (l) etcetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that at a distance resemble flies.
* PerspectiveFlip: "The House of Asterion", in which the narrator tells us of his strange life in his strange house; upon reaching the end we realize that [[spoiler:the narrator is the Minotaur and the house is the Labyrinth]]. (Well, the reader realizes it about halfway through if he's conversant with ancient mythology.)
** And a story sketched in "The Zahir," whose protagonist is an ascetic living in isolation in a wasteland called ''gnittaheidr'', guarding a huge treasure to protect lesser men from the temptation it causes (including his own father, whom he killed). [[spoiler: in the end, it turns out the protagonist is Fafnir, who was turned into a giant serpent by [[ArtifactOfDoom the Ring of the Nibelungen]] and slain by Siegfried.]]
** ''The shape of the sword'': A man with a scar tells Borges how he got it: When he was a young irish rebel, a comrade called Moon, whom he saved from death, betrayed him to the Englishmen and he gave Moon a MarkOfShame. When Borges asks him to finish the story, [[spoiler: the man reveals himself as the traitor Moon. His GuiltComplex is so big he only can tell the story of his treason invoking a PerspectiveFlip]].
* PirateGirl: "The Widow Ching, Lady Pirate"
* ThePlan: [[spoiler: "Death and the Compass"]]; [[spoiler: "The Dead Man"]].
* PopCultureIsolation: InUniverse example meets TruthInTelevision in '' "Averroes's Search" '': Averroes, an Islamic philosopher, never could understand the terms ''tragedy'' and ''comedy''... any more than Borges, a South American writer in the twentieth century, could understand Averroes.
* PoesLaw: His prologue to Thorstein Veblen's ''[[RichInDollarsPoorInSense Theory Of The Leisure Class]]'':
-->''When, many years ago, I was given this book, I thought it was a {{satire}}. I learned later that it was the first work of a distinguished sociologist. At any rate, when we look closely enough at '''any''' society, we can see that it is not a {{Utopia}} and its [[CrapsackWorld fair description]] runs the risk of bordering on satire.''
* PostModernism.
* PhotographicMemory: The titular character of "Funes the Memorious". The story also deconstructs it.
* RealitySubtext: In the essay "Kafka and His Precursors", Borges presents us with various literary works whose tone and material seem like forerunners of Creator/FranzKafka. Before Kafka, though, no one would have said they had much in common. Borges argues that the reality of the author's later career ''[[MindScrew created its precursors]]'', retroactively linking these dissimilar works together.
** The poem "SherlockHolmes" is about how this fictional character managed to survive his CreatorBacklash to the point to [[OutlivedItsCreator Outlive His Creator]], realizing that literature has made an immortal character simply because Holmes was never alive. Borges published this poem in ''Los conjurados'', his last book, and died some months after its publication.
* RealityWarper: "The Circular Ruins"
* RecursiveReality: '' "Averroe's Search" '': In the last page, Borges realizes that he has broke the [[MutuallyFictional Stable Fictional Loop]] and incurred in an [[OntologicalMystery Ontological Paradox]]
--> I felt, on the last page, that my narration was a symbol of the man I was as I wrote it and that, in order to compose that narration, I had to be that man and, in order to be that man, I had to compose that narration, and so on to infinity.
* RewritingReality: "Literature/TlonUqbarOrbisTertius" and "The Other Death".
* SatelliteLoveInterest: Borges claims that this trope is the deconstruction of the ArtifactOfAttraction trope: When someone falls in love with someone else without any reason. Borges cannot define why he is in love (fascinated by) Teodelina, a pretty shallow RichBitch that later becomes a FallenPrincess... except that Borges is a snob himself.
* SerialKillingsSpecificTarget: An early example of the device, "Death and the Compass" offers an interesting DoubleSubversion in that the villain's intended victim is [[spoiler: the detective himself, who turns up early after deducing the particular place and time suggested by the pattern to try and stop the last murder. He thus becomes the victim of an ambush by the killer, his longtime ArchEnemy.]] The added twist makes this story a bit of an early, UnbuiltTrope version of the device.
* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler: "Death and the Compass", "The Garden of Forking Paths".]]
* ShoutOut: Pretty much every author in the Western ''and'' Eastern literary and philosophical canon gets a ShoutOut in some Borges story or another. For example, "Death and the Compass" has [[ShoutOut Shout Outs]] to philosopher Baruch Spinoza and authors EdgarAllanPoe and Creator/JamesJoyce, among others.
** The ''DivineComedy'' gets a few {{Shout Out}}s in "The Aleph".
* StylisticSuck: Carlos Argentino Daneri's poems in "The Aleph". The narrator decides that Daneri is very talented; it's just that his talent is not for writing poetry, but for [[KnowNothingKnowItAll inventing reasons why his own poetry is so good]].
** Combined with WastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot in "A Survey of the Works of Herbert Quain". The titular author wrote (among other things) a collection of short stories, each of which promises and hints at a good plot and then intentionally frustrates it; the annoyed reader is meant to ponder what Quain ''should'' have done with each story, thus arriving at ''his own'' version of the plot Quain intended.
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness: "The House of Asterion"
* TimeStandsStill: "The Secret Miracle"
* TomatoInTheMirror: [[spoiler: "The Circular Ruins"]]
* TragicDream: '' "Averroes's Search" '' : Averroes tries to explain Creator/{{Aristotle}} without understanding the terms ''Tragedy'' and ''Comedy'' and [[spoiler: Borges trying to imagine Averroes]].
* UnreliableNarrator:
** "The Other Death"; "The Immortal". The reliability of the narrator is [[LampshadeHanging questioned explicitly]] in the stories themselves; the latter one almost takes it into {{Deconstruction}} territory.
** "A Survey of the Works of Herbert Quain" mentions a detective novel in which, based on the final paragraph, the careful reader can discover that the solution to the mystery was ''wrong'' and, with that additional piece of information, can reconstruct what actually happened.
** Similarly, "Literature/TlonUqbarOrbisTertius" begins with the narrator and a friend discussing how one might write a novel with a narrator so subtly unreliable that only a few perceptive readers would be able to figure out the truth.
* UnwittingPawn: [[spoiler: Lönnrott in "Death and the Compass"]], [[spoiler: Every Babylon citizen (except those ''already'' in TheConspiracy]] in "The Lottery in Babylon"
* WeAreEverywhere: Deconstructed in "The Lottery in Babylon:" [[TheConspiracy The Company ]]is [[NebulousEvilOrganization continually trying to introduce chaos at Babylon]], and everyone knows they have infiltrated the city. Given anyone could work for them, those who aren’t working for them are ProperlyParanoid about being manipulated into being their {{Unwitting Pawn}}s:
--> ''The Company, [[TheConspiracy with godlike modesty, shuns all publicity. Its agents, of course, are secret; the orders it constantly (perhaps continually) imparts are no different from those spread wholesale by impostors.]]\\
Besides -- who will boast of being a mere impostor? [[ParanoiaFuel The drunken man who blurts out an absurd command, the sleeping man who suddenly awakes and turns and chokes to death the woman sleeping at his side -- are they not, perhaps, implementing one of the Company's secret decisions?]]''
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: "The Immortal".
* YourMindMakesItReal: "The Circular Ruins" in a personal level. "Literature/TlonUqbarOrbisTertius" on a global scale.
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