Jorges Luis Borges
Analysis by Conner O’Connell
The Book of Sands is about a stranger who presents himself as a Bible salesman to the author. He arrives late one evening seemingly distressed and gloomy, claiming to possess a “Holy Writ” that he was offering for sale for a high sum. The author was intrigued by the book as it presented with no beginning and no end. The numbers on the pages seemed to go on to infinity. Every time the author would look at the pages in the book, there seemed to be different illustrations and he could never find that page again. The author became obsessed with the book abandoning his life and friends at the mercy of documenting each page and its contents. The author then tries to rid himself of the obsession by losing the book at the Argentine National Library where the author once worked. The first symbol easily recognized in the story is “Sand”, which is used in the title. Sand has always been used to represent time. In this case, it represents everlasting time. Like the old saying, “like sands through the hour glass”, this was a perfect representation of infinite time. The obsession of the author trying to track the time within the book could represent the author is older and is looking back at his life.
The second symbol to discuss is the use of mathematics within the story. By the author having random numbers of the pages, using a number to the 9th power and speaking about 2000 pages of illustrations, he is trying to show the measurement of time and how it never ends. This is another representation of infinity. The author speaks of never finding the same page twice can also speak to a lifetime of different experiences.
There is also a religious context to the story that the author is expressing. You can tell that the author is a religious person, yet he abandons his extremely valuable Wiclif Bible and an entire month’s pension to acquire the “devilish book”. The author used the Bible as a spiritual guide until he acquired the book of infinite pages. He then became obsessed with time represented by the book abandoning all other things of importance in his life. This rejection of his beliefs becomes “monstrous” to the author which forces him to get rid of the book by hiding it in the library.
The story is full of references to infinite time and…