English title: The Garden of Forking Paths
Yu Tsun is living in the UK during World War I and he is a spy for the German Empire. He has just discovered the location of a new British artillery park and wishes to convey that knowledge to his German handlers before he is captured by Richard Madden, a British spy. Tsun boards a train, narrowly avoiding Captain Madden at the train station. He has a little advantage over his hunter, and he goes to the house of Doctor Stephen Albert, an eminent Sinologist. As he walks up the road to Doctor Albert’s house, Tsun reflects on his great ancestor, Ts’ui Pên, a man that was famous for pursuing two things: to write a vast and intricate novel, and to construct an equally vast and intricate labyrinth. At his death, what he wrote was a “contradictory jumble of irresolute drafts” that made no sense and the labyrinth was never found. Tsun arrives at the house of Doctor Albert, who is deeply excited to have met a descendant of Ts’ui Pên. Albert explains excitedly that he has solved both mysteries—the chaotic and jumbled nature of Ts’ui Pên’s unfinished book and the mystery of his lost labyrinth.
This is a really short story, so if you want to know how it ends, you’ll have to read it! 😉 (it’s easily found online).
I had to read this short story for college. I usually enjoy this kind of writing from Borges, so I don’t know why I never read an entire book by him.