Alternate cover editions here and hereFew readers will want, or be able, to resist this modern bestiary Here you will find the familiarGryphons, Minotaurs and Unicornsas well as the Monkey of the inkpot and other undeniably curious beasts Borges' cunning and humorous commentary is sheer delight Borges explains at the beginning that the book is not intended to be read through, but opened at random and skimmed Well, I read it through, and I don't regret it But that's because I'm interested by very unusual things Borges has here compiled from what is essentially a set of utterly trivial facts something with meaning His selection is bizarre, pretty and humorous, and he describes each beast with great variation in tone The reason for each voice only becomes clear after several beasts are examined The optimal reading circumstances appear to be a small group of people intimately familiar with the work of Borges reading aloud to each other and chuckling knowingly at each other But it's still awesome You should keep it on a shelf nearby, and open it when wondering what doesn't exist. Here's the 1970 E.P Dutton Co hardcover I have (3rd printing, 256 pages), which isn't listed here on Goodreads I see others have their copies tagged as illustrated, though mine's not, unfortunately.Full review to come.3.5 Stars. I can't say I'm surprised by the fact that it's so highly acclaimed That said, I can't say I found much interest in it, either Truth is, it kind of made the already long hours of the night shift at work a tiny bit longer All in all, The Book of Imaginary Beings is an admittedly big literary achievement that simply didn't touch me.Shit happens, I guess. Reading this again because I'm in the middle of translating it, and it's still as beautiful as ever The creatures described in this book have been a major influence on all my horror work. This book is great! Unlike Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Holly Black's Arthur Spiderwick's Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, which provide authoritative portraits of magical creatures in a particular fantasy world, The Book of Imaginary Beings compiles interesting stories and details about a diverse array of imagined beasts, drawing from both Western and Eastern mythologies Borges's aim is not simply to delight his readers with whimsical stories couched in a satirical tonethough he manages this quite wellbut to ascertain the true purpose of these beings in humanity's collective consciousness We do not know what the dragon means, Borges writes in the Introduction, just as we do not know the meaning of the universe, but there is something in the image of a dragon that is congenial to man's imagination, and thus the dragon arises in many latitudes and ages It is, one might say, a necessary monster.This gets to the heart of what fascinates every fantasy lover or typologist What are our profound hopes; our neurotic fears? What force drives us to tell the same stories over and over, resurrecting our favorite characters and their villains again and again?Keep this noble cause in mind as you skim this book, and it will help you get through the drier bits Not every entry sparkles with Borges's wit Some unfamiliar creatures, like the A Bao A Qu or Animals That Live in the Mirror, are a joy to meet, while others could have remained obscure Read it before bed, and be sure to remember your dreams. I really don't know how JLB makes such exciting topic sound so boring Let's take Scylla as an example She is one of the weirdest monstersa girl with the heads of six barking dogs coming from her waist The story behind her transformation (from Ovid's Metamorphoses) is equally twisted a guy named Glaucus falls in love with Scylla (lovely girl at this point), she scorns him Desperate, he seeks help from Circe, the sorceress (He is probably hoping for some love potion to change Scylla's mind.) To his surprise, Circe falls for him and puts down Scylla And even though Glaucus says no, Circe goes ahead and poisons the water Scylla likes to bathe in She only sank her body halfway when the dog heads grew out of her loins! Wild Ovid's story stimulates emotions and marvels us JLB makes this story, as well as 100 others, unbearably boring, just piles of exotic knowledge If you are interested in these fantastic creatures, read Homer, Ovid, and various world mythologies You'll enjoy the reading much . Like much of the Borgesian oeuvre, The Book of Imaginary Beings exists on the peripheries of the makebelieve On a certain level, the work does indeed function as an honesttogoodness encyclopedia—albeit one that deals almost exclusively with the fantastical But as one might expect, things aren't quite what they seem, and the astute reader should also view the legitimacy—even the sincerity—of its various mythological claims with a grain (or two) of salt.One of history's most prolific readers, Borges draws his material from several thousand years' worth of literature and myth; yet only sporadically does he actually cite his sources (although translator Andrew Hurley has done an admiral job of tracking a good many of them down) And even then, this great pioneer of POMO has elsewhere demonstrated a playful penchant for fabricating primary source material (see, for instance, the absolutely wonderful On Rigor in Science).Nor do the many entries in this volume, which span the mysterious A Boa A Qu to the colossal Zaratan, appear to conform to any overarching methodological strategy Despite containing seperate entries for Chinese and Western dragons, The Book of Imaginary Beings makes no pretenses towards either rigor or exhaustiveness, with Borges haphazardly engaging in direct quotation (A Crossbreed by Kafka, The Offspring of Leviathan), conceptual historicization (Dragons), and even the occasional bout of philosophical speculation (The Baldanders).In Reference and Existence, Saul Kripke—the influential American philosopher of language and logic—pontificates at length about the curious nature of real toy ducks; despite the paradoxical name, real toy ducks exist (he argues) as a genuine part of our ontology, although one should take pains not to confuse them with real (nontoy) ducks of the fleshandblood variety The Book of Imaginary Beings finds Borges toying with a similar notion—only unlike Kripke, the Argentine writercumbibliophile seems intent on further tangling the metaphysical strings relating fact to fiction.Which makes this real imaginary encyclopedia into somethingthan just a testament to the staggering eruditeness of its author All in all, an immensely enjoyable read Recommended.(And as per usual, the Penguin Deluxe Classics Edition—sparingly illustrated by Peter Sís—is simply gorgeous.) Though this is yet another one of those books made superfluous by the internet (seriously if you want to know the specifics of a manticore, would you use google or look it up in a book?), it's a lovely and intriguing little volume to use for perusing, AND, as a reference Borges provides alphabetical descriptions of both biblical beasts, and mythological monsters, with a few literary creatures dumped in, as well Most interesting to me was the tale of The Squonk Though I've lived in Pennsylvania all my life, his account is the first I've heard of the wartcovered, unhappy critter that is rud to stalk the hemlock forests of my state This character can literally dissolve into tears:Mr J.P Wentlinghad a disappointing experience with a Squonk near Mont Alto He made a clever capture by mimicking the Squonk and inducing it to hop into a sack, in which he was carrying it home, when suddenly the burden lightened and the weeping ceased Wentling unslung the sack and looked in There was nothing but tears and bubbles.Part of me wants to argue that if someone has claimed to have photographed, and/or captured a beast, it is not an imaginary being, but instead, a cryptidbut that would be splitting hairs.This version includes not nearly enough illustrations by the wonderful Peter Sís. hard to resist this amazing modern bestiary which surpass so many shallow creatures in now days films or books what a vivid imagination this great writer had.