This section contains 1,925 words
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Ficciones Summary & Study Guide Description
Ficciones Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
Narratorappears in Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius; The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim; Pie
Many of the stories are told in the first-person point of view of the narrator. This narrator often utilizes the authorial voice in which the narrator makes it clear to the reader that it is the voice of the writer himself rather than a fictional narrator who happens to utilize the first person point of view. In fact, in one of these stories the narrator is referred to in the author's name by a character in the story. By using this point of view, the writer becomes a participant in the story, a character to whom things happen in the course of the story's plot development.
In some of the stories, the author writes his stories to seem like non-fiction articles in which he critiques other writers. In these stories, the author writes about literature and the impact of these specific books or stories on the reader as though he were critiquing the work of actual writers. In other stories, the author talks about events he claims happed to him. In one such story, the author talks about finding an encyclopedia about a planet that does not exist. In another, the author talks about staying overnight in the home of an Englishman who tells him a story about his involvement in the Irish rebellion of the early twentieth century.
The narrator is often a neutral participant in his stories. However, there are stories when the narrator takes an active part in the story. In The Library of Babel, the narrator talks about how he has read through some of the books in the library and searched for the secrets that the Searchers have spent a great deal of time searching for. In other stories, the narrator discusses his emotional response to literature, especially that of writer's he knew personally, such as in Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote. By discussing his emotional response to these stories, the narrator becomes a part of the story despite playing such a neutral role.
Pierre Menardappears in Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote
Pierre Menard is a writer who has taken it upon himself to attempt to re-write the classic novel Don Quixote. Pierre corresponds with the narrator during this time, explaining his desire to recreate the work by channeling the original writer, but still maintaining his own voice. Pierre wants to make the story his own, but wants to keep the feel of the original manuscript. Pierre takes on several key chapters of the novel, rewriting them with a voice that he feels is uniquely his own even though the essence of Miguel de Cervantes remains. In the end, the story remains unchanged, but Pierre has injected his own voice, creating a work that is unchanged, but more vital and unique than ever before.
Dream Manappears in The Circular Ruins
The Dream Man appears on the shores of a river and falls into a deep sleep at the foot of a circular ruins that was once a temple to an unnamed god. The Dream Man discovers that he enjoys sleep and decides to spend the majority of his time sleeping. At first the man has vivid dreams about teaching a class of pupils while searching for the one pupil who deserves to be taught the lessons he wants to teach. However, the Dream Man suffers from insomnia for a time and is unable to dream.
When he's finally able to dream again, the Dream Man begins to dream of one person, forming him in his dreams until he is a complete man. The Dream Man then teaches this one person, thinking of him as his son. Eventually the Dream Man teaches his son to leave his dreams and to go out into the world. At the end, the Dream Man is consumed by a fire that encroaches on the ruins. When the fire does not hurt the Dream Man, he comes to the conclusion that like his son, he is the product of another man's dream.
Dr. Yu Tsunappears in The Garden of Forking Paths
Dr. Yu Tsun is a spy for the Germans during World War I. Dr. Yu Tsun realizes he is about to be apprehended by the British and he needs to find a way to get a message to his chief. Dr. Yu Tsun thinks about this for a long time before he finally finds a solution that seems to be his only option. Dr. Yu Tsun travels into the country to the home of a fellow doctor. It turns out this doctor has figured out a great mystery that has existed in Dr. Yu Tsun's family for many years. Dr. Yu Tsun is grateful, but when his friend turns his back on him, Dr. Yu Tsun kills him. Moments later, Dr. Yu Tsun is apprehended by his German nemesis. It turns out, the other doctor has a name that will clue Dr. Yu Tsun's captain in to the message he must get to him before a great mistake is made in the battle between Germany and Britain.
Dr. Stephen Albertappears in The Garden of Forking Paths
Dr. Stephen Albert lives in a remote area. Dr. Yu Tsun comes to visit him, giving Dr. Albert the chance to share with someone the secret he has discovered. Dr. Albert has done great amounts of research on Dr. Yu Tsun's relative, Ts'ui Pen. Ts'ui Pen, in the later years of his life, told his family he intended to write a great novel. Later, Ts'ui Pen told his family he was to build a great labyrinth. However, after Ts'ui Pen died, all his family found was the novel. This novel was long and had a confusing timeline. Characters that died in one chapter would often turn up alive again in later chapters without explanation. The family believed the novel to be worthless, but was encouraged to publish it by a monk. The family would regret this decision for many years. At the same time, the family continuously searched for the labyrinth, but has never found it. Dr. Albert, through research and the discovery of a letter, realized that the novel is the labyrinth. Ts'ui Pen wrote a novel that took into account every choice a given character could make and wrote a story for every given possibility.
Dr. Albert explains this discovery to Dr. Yu Tsun, believing this is why Dr. Yu Tsun has come to see him. Dr. Yu Tsun is excited by this information. However, in the same breath Dr. Yu Tsun expresses his gratitude, he uses his gun to kill Dr. Albert. It turns out Albert had a name that Dr. Yu Tsun needed to appear in the newspapers along with his own in order to warn his captain of the intended bombing of the city of Albert.
Ireneo Funesappears in Funes, The Memorious
Ireneo Funes is a young man who was born with the great gift of always knowing what time it is. As a teenager, Ireneo suffers a devastating horse riding accident that leaves him bedridden. Ireneo begins to suffer insomnia. During his confinement, Ireneo begins to become aware of everything, including the minute details of every object within his sight. Not only this, but Ireneo finds that he cannot forget anything. Also during his confinement, Ireneo becomes aware of the futility of language. Ireneo believes that most words are too simple to cover everything in the world, such as the word dog for the large variety of shapes and sizes of dogs that fill the world. This ability to recall everything causes Ireneo to age quickly, causing him to die of heart failure at the age of nineteen.
The Englishmanappears in The Form of the Sword
The Englishman is an angry, dark man who runs his ranch with a iron fist, but he is fair despite his dark moods and tough rules. The Englishman, it turns out, is Irish. The Englishman has a scar on his face. When the narrator asks the Englishman about this scar, he learns that the scar is the result of the Englishman's participation of the Irish rebellion of the early twentieth century. The Englishman became frightened the first time he faced gunfire and was saved by a fellow rebel. This fellow rebel took the Englishman into his home and protected, giving him the time he needed to recover from his wounds and to build his courage. However, in exchange for this kindness, the Englishman turned his friend in and received his scar from the friend in retribution.
Fergus Kilpatrickappears in Theme of the Traitor and Hero
Fergus Kilpatrick was a celebrated leader of Ireland. Kilpatrick was killed in a theater by a group of conspirators. In the story Theme of the Traitor and Hero, the narrator compares Kilpatrick's death to those of Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln. The narrator continues to suggest that perhaps Kilpatrick's assassination was staged in order to protect his followers from realizing he was a traitor to their trust. The narrator says that one of Kilpatrick's men came up with the idea of copying the story of Julius Caesar as written by Shakespeare and therefore creating a story that would make Kilpatrick a hero and protect everything he had worked to build for his country. Kilpatrick, in this theory, was a willing participant in his own assassination, aware of the events that would lead to his death.
Eric Lonnrotappears in Death and the Compass
Eric Lonnrot is a detective in the story, Death and the Compass. Lonnrot believes from the beginning of the case that something bigger than simple robbery is going on. Lonnrot comes to believe that the murders are due to a fanatical religious group who believe a specific word for the name of God should not be spoken. Three men are killed in three strategically selected areas that make it appear as though they were premeditated by this religious group. However, when Lonnrot arrives at what he believes will be the fourth and final crime scene, he discovers that the first murder was in fact a simple robbery gone wrong. However, when the criminal mind behind the crime learned that Lonnrot was on the case, he set up the other murders in order to lure Lonnrot to the final location. The criminal mind is a man whom Lonnrot wronged when he arrested his brother. In revenge, the criminal set Lonnrot up and will now kill him. Lonnrot proves to be too smart for his own good.
Jaromir Hladikappears in The Secret Miracle
Jaromir Hladik is a Jewish writer who is arrested for the crime of being Jewish and sentenced to die. Jaromir Hladik has not finished one of his plays and would like the time to do so before he dies. Hladik prays to God for the time he needs. In a dream, Hladik is told that his time has been granted. However, Hladik is led out to the courtyard to be executed. Hladik believes his time will not be granted when he is placed against a wall and the order to fire is given. In the seconds before the bullets enter his body, Hladik becomes aware that time seems to have slowed to a near stand still. Hladik realizes that this is the time he asked for. God has slowed time in his mind so completely that the few seconds it takes for the bullets to reach him, a year will pass in his mind. Hladik uses this time to finish his play in his mind.
This section contains 1,925 words
(approx. 7 pages at 300 words per page)