Borges Does a Hemingway: The World’s Shortest Historical Travelogue


Although Borges describes a map from 1658, we found this map which forms the adjunct to this short story, from the year 1885. It is titled “A Bird’s Eye View of El Paso County, Texas,” and was drawn by Aug. Koch. The original image almost complies with Borges’ own dimensions. Here we have obviously reduced the dimensions to nearly an eighth.


“On Exactitude in Science”

Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley.


…In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Suarez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658


Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges (1899-1986) was an Argentine essayist, poet, short-story writer and translator. It has been noted that the beginnings of magical realism were with the publication of his A Universal History of Infamy. He is most popularly known for his Ficciones (Fictions) and El Aleph (The Aleph), which were published in the 1940s