# LITERATURE /// Erik Desmazieres' illustration of Borges' Library of Babel

I just found out a version of Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel (see previous post for integral text) illustrated by Erik Desmazieres. This very talented French printmaker created eleven etchings in relation with Borges incredible short story. However and despite the fact that the author is extremely precise in the way he describes the space of the library, Desmazieres chose to interpret the tale his own way, refusing a stubborn literal adaptation of the drawings to the words. The result is a very rich universe full of books and visitors who probably wandered several days in the library before finding the word combination they were looking for (or the one that hold their attention)…



Woah, not come across this Artist before. This guys work is amazing, very in-spiring, thanks for sharing his stuff. Great blog BTW


Beautiful, beautiful etchings. Thank you, Léopold, for sharing them. As for the detachment from the original, this is something that’s inevitable in the translation of Borgesian space. As Cristina Grau pointed out in her 1989 book, in the case of Borges the complexity dwells not so much in the geometry of the space as in the description that the writer makes of it. The Library of Babel is a space that becomes labyrinthine in the text, and so, a (stubborn) direct translation of its geometry-as-outlined gives as a result a rather simplistic architecture that betrays the original more than the usual for a translation. And this is so because such a line-by-line reconstruction of the Library (or the city of Immortals, or Asterion’s house) would be a reduction that denaturalizes the true nature of the original: the qualities of Borgesian space are so much in the meaning of the words as in the words themselves, and as much in the described geometries as in the convoluted way in which this description is constructed, with its subordinate clauses and alliterations. That’s why Escher’s impossible constructions, or Piranesi’s etchings have the ability to invoke the ethos of these spaces in a way a (reductively) faithful reconstruction couldn’t.

Léopold Lambert

Thank you Klaustoon for following the funambulist! I enjoy very much your caustic look on the little world of starchitecture.
I agree with your analysis of Desmazieres’ etchings and also realize that I should replace them in the article by better scans !

keep in touch


Leave a Reply