‘The Two Kings And The Two Labyrinths’ by Jorge Luis Borges

Borges, Jorge Luis 1939

The Two Kings And The Two Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges, 1939

The magic trick:

Using a fable to question God

This story follows yesterday’s labyrinth-themed SSMT feature in The Aleph. It even references it via a cheeky footnote. In reality, Borges published this story 12 years earlier.

Anyway like “Murdered In His Labyrinth,” we’re dealing with a pair of men in this story again. It’s a crazy little mind warp. In the space of a page, the story manages to essentially call the world a death trap and maybe suggests God’s complicity in the punishment. All while feeling like a fun little fable. And that’s quite a trick on Borges’s part.

The selection:

With the passage of time there came to his court a king of the Arabs, and the king of Babylon (wishing to mock his guest’s simplicity) allowed him to set foot in his labyrinth, where he wandered in humiliation and bewilderment until the coming of night. It was then that the second king implored the help of God and soon after came upon the door. He suffered his lips to utter no complaint, but he told the king of Babylon that he, too, had a labyrinth in his land and that, God willing, he would one day take pleasure in showing it to his host.


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