The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges

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Describes a universe whereby people are born into an infinite library of hexagonal rooms connected by two corridors of which contain a spiral staircase accessing the floors above and below and a small toilet and separate sleeping space from each corridor. Each hexagonal room has four of its six walls occupied by a bookcase some 2m in height containing five shelves. Each shelf contains thirty-five books which all have four hundred and ten pages, forty lines per page and eighty letters per line. Between each hexagon is a vast air shaft; an infinite drop. The books contain every single possible combination of characters in every single language thought to exist and the storey focuses on the frustration of people not being able to understand or find a book which makes sense and the search for a book which must catalogue the position of all the other books. The population of this ‘world’ used to be one person every three hexagon’s but due to suicides the population has reduced and now people can wander for weeks or months before coming across another.

 

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