Task: The Library of Babel

Task: The Library of Babel

Posted on Updated on

I am starting my Masters in Illustration and I have been sifting through the brief which is terrifying me! I have been given the text ‘The Library of Babel’ by Jorge Luis Borges 1944, which at first sounds interesting. The following link leads to the text:


When I started reading it I became lost in a world of text and I had to read it quite a few times to grasp the concept.

Basically from what I can gather, there is a library that is endless and has all the books, music etc in large hexagonal buildings which are forever expanding. Librarians have been looking for a book that explained the meaning of life but they never found it and went mad. There wasn’t just one book that explained the meaning of life as everyone is different. Each book is an attempt to explain the meaning of life but as the meaning of life/universe is different to everyone – no two books mean the same as different books mean different things. I hope that makes sense!

The text has some specific detailed scenes of the layout of the complex but it is very much up for interpretation. My idea might be totally be different to my friend, this is good as no one will have the same ideas as no one is wrong. Before I dive into drawings I think I’m going to research into others peoples take on this text and see what they think of it. Good Reads has a discussion based on this texts and shows many interpretations which questioned my own thoughts about it.


For example, from this text I thought that we would keep making new books that would inspire the current generation however when I read this,

‘And what if the library already existed? Does it change the writing of a book, knowing that whatever book you’re writing, it already exists? All books are unoriginal before they are even created by intent.’ posted by Whitney (2013).

It made me think that if the book you are writing has been already written in some form, is there nothing we can write that is new?