I recently started reading Jorge Luis Borges’ Collected Fictions (translated by Andrew Hurley) and I’m in love with the way he writes stories about stories, creating this feeling of a whole undiscovered world of impossible works of literature.
In the introduction to Ficciones, I think one of his best regarded collections, he writes:
It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books—setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them.
While I don’t know about the “perfectly related orally in five minutes” piece, this is certainly an appealing concept!
Another book with fictional books at it’s center is If on a winter’s night a traveller by Italo Calvino, but there he uses the mechanism to a completely different effect.
There’s also books mentioned in passing in other works, like all these books mentioned in Harry Potter
What are your favorite fictional books? Are there ones that particularly resonated with you? Or any interesting ways that the books were used in the more real books they were in?