Sociological Criticism Essay

Posted: November 27th, 2013





Sociological Criticism Essay

            The Library of Babel written by Jorge Luis Borges is a story in which the writer attempts to envision the universe as a library consisting of a large variety of books that have been published using a unique format (Ackerley 171). The writer expresses his perception as the earth containing a large area that is occupied by hexagonal spaces of which each consists of requirements that are bare for the survival of humanity. Although the organization of various books is unsystematic and pointless, the occupants assume they consist of all the achievable arrangement of a few fundamental elements.

One of the sociological theories found in this book is Mystery. This has been expressed by the author where he causes the readers to visualize an atmosphere of the unknown that consists of things that cannot be perceived in the realistic sense (Ackerley 171). For example, the author’s idea of the entire universe turning into a library can only be viewed in the imaginary sense and hardly in actuality because the earth consists of a lot more than just books including natural features such as plants and water that cater for other living organisms like animals.

The second theory is on functionality, in which the author expects his imaginary library to consist of data that will be of immense use to the readers. He describes its usefulness as having futuristic information, biographies of any individual, and the data translated in all languages of the earth. This shows that the author values the imaginary library because of more of its functionality rather than its appearance. The author views the books that are currently being used in the world as useless and therefore, wants the imaginary library to have the functionality of providing information that has more value and meaning to the inhabitants of the earth.

The other sociological theory found is purification, in which the author believes the futility of books to have left the librarians in a depressed state and hence believe in performing superstitious actions including destroying those books (Daniel 270). This is done to cleanse the meaninglessness in the library and is achieved by the librarians seeking a supernatural source known as the Crimson Hexagon.

Figurative interaction is another theory in which the author believes that within the whole range books found in the library, there has to be one faultless book that has been read by a messianic body (Daniel 271). The author uses this symbolic language to express how he believes that in the midst of all the books he found meaningless, there is a certain book with supernatural influence, in which the librarians honor and seek.

The social patterns displayed in the characters of this story appear as learned. This is because the author talks about librarians who have great enthusiasm in being acquainted with a high level of information and hence the reason why they feel the urge to make the library in being more useful. For example, the librarians are illustrated as being in a state of despair after realizing that the content in the library books is pointless. This shows their interest in becoming great-learned people.

The librarian characters are also shown as being sacred in the scene where they seek for a supernatural source to guide them and give advice on how to transform the library from an empty state to a more purposeful and significant functionality of learning (Perla 17). The librarians also believe that the supernatural power exists in one unique book within the current library, which acts as a guide for referring the reader to useful information. The narrating character, used by the author to tell the story appears to be truly creative. This is evident in his concept of an imaginary library in which its elements are made of the entire universe. The creativity appears where the narrator expresses an idea that cannot be rationalized within the real world.

The narrator also appears to be explorative since within the description of his imagination, he brings in the element of discovery where he expresses a particular result if his ideas were brought to life (Perla 17). For example, the narrator experiments by creating a scenario in which the whole universe would transform into a library that would provide all humankind with the information they needed. In addition, the narrator creates a scenario in which the information would include the biographies of each individual that existed on earth.

The social patterns illustrated in the author’s culture include being learned or the educated culture. This is because of his background of working in an occupation, where he is surrounded by educative or learning materials. Jorge Luis Borges had various roles including being a poet, writer, essayist, librarian and a University lecturer. This shows that in his career, he was surrounded by various fields of education and hence his interest in being associated with his learned culture.

Borges’ work shows that he is critical and selective. For example, criticism is shown where he despises the current libraries by regarding the information contained as useless. This is the reason he expresses his idea of creating a particular library that is much greater in terms of its provision of significant information. The author displays his critiquing selective behavior where he expresses his comments on the functionality of the current libraries. The author also appears to honor and acknowledge the value of education in the society. This is evident in the way he expresses education in the story to the extent of including some form of divine power controlling the impact of information provided by educative materials.


Ackerley, C. “Borges’s the Library of Babel and Jeans’s the Universe Around Us.” The Explicator. 63.3 (2005): 170-172. Print.

Eilon, Daniel. “Swift Burning the Library of Babel.” The Modern Language Review. 80.2 (2007): 269-282. Print.

Sassón-Henry, Perla. “Borges’ “the Library of Babel” and Moulthrop’s Cybertext “reagan Library” Revisited.” Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature. 60.2 (2006): 11-22. Print.

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