The unimaginable mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel
- William Goldbloom Bloch.
- Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Physical description
- xx, 192 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
At the library
- Bloch, William Goldbloom.
- Includes bibliographical references (p. -185) and index.
- Combinatorics: Contemplating Variations of the 23 Letter
- Topology and Cosmology: The Universe (Which Others Call the Library)
- Information Theory: Cataloging the Collection
- Geometry and Graph Theory: Ambiguity and Access
- Real Analysis: The Book of Sand
- More Combinatorics: Disorderings into Order
- A Homomorphism: Structure into Meaning
- Critical Points
- Appendix IThe Logos of Logarithms
- Appendix IIFlat-Out Disoriented
- Appendix IIIPeeling the 3-Sphere
- Appendix IVA Labyrinth, not a Maze
- Appendix VAn Example of the Ars Combinatoria
- (source: Nielsen Book Data)
The Library of Babel is arguably Jorge Luis Borges' best known story-memorialized along with Borges on an Argentine postage stamp. Now, in The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel, William Goldbloom Bloch takes readers on a fascinating tour of the mathematical ideas hidden within one of the classic works of modern literature. Written in the vein of Douglas R. Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize-winning Goedel, Escher, Bach, this original and imaginative book sheds light on one of Borges' most complex, richly layered works. Bloch begins each chapter with a mathematical idea-combinatorics, topology, geometry, information theory-followed by examples and illustrations that put flesh on the theoretical bones. In this way, he provides many fascinating insights into Borges' Library. He explains, for instance, a straightforward way to calculate how many books are in the Library-an easily notated but literally unimaginable number-and also shows that, if each book were the size of a grain of sand, the entire universe could only hold a fraction of the books in the Library. Indeed, if each book were the size of a proton, our universe would still not be big enough to hold anywhere near all the books. Given Borges' well-known affection for mathematics, this exploration of the story through the eyes of a humanistic mathematician makes a unique and important contribution to the body of Borgesian criticism. Bloch not only illuminates one of the great short stories of modern literature but also exposes the reader-including those more inclined to the literary world-to many intriguing and entrancing mathematical ideas.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)
- Publication date
- 0195334574 (cloth)
- 9780195334579 (cloth)
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