Saturday, June 20, 2009

"When In Uqbar Be Sure And Visit - "


Uqbar is best-known as a fictional place in Jorge Luis Borges's famous 1940 short story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius". Uqbar in the story is doubly fictional: even within the world of the story it turns out to be a fictional place. The story turns on the narrator's discovery of a Nihilartikel about Uqbar: that is, a false article in an otherwise legitimate reference work. Also, despite its overall fictional nature, "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is loaded with references to real people and places and it playfully combines reality and fiction.

Consequently, on the one hand hoaxes about Uqbar abound, and on the other, many writers have claimed that Borges's Uqbar is entirely fictional. Nonetheless, there is at least one real place with the name Uqbar, in Algeria, as well as a town called Ukbara in Iraq, each of which seems to have at least some aspects in common with Borges's fictional Uqbar. These places may plausibly have inspired the name and some other aspects of the Borges's Uqbar, although Borges's description of its culture is of course fictional.

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