- The Lottery in Babylon
Infobox short story |
name = The Babylon Lottery
title_orig = La lotería en Babilonia
translator = Anthony Bonner
Jorge Luis Borges
language = Spanish
Fantasy, short story
published_in = "
media_type = Print
"The Babylon Lottery" (original Spanish title: "La lotería en Babilonia") is a
fantasy short storyby Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. It first appeared in 1941 in the journal "Sur", and then was included in the 1941 collection "The Garden of Forking Paths" ("El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan"), before being included in " Ficciones", part one. The title also appears as "The Lottery in Babylon".
It describes a fictional society in
Babylonin which all activities are dictated by an all-encompassing lottery, a metaphorfor the role of chance in one's life. Initially, the lottery had the usual material rewards; later, punishments and immaterial rewards were introduced. Further, there was no need to voluntarily participate. Finally, it simultaneously became so all-encompassing and so secret that no one can tell whether the Lottery still exists to alter people's fates, or whether the world runs blindly on by chance.
A further interpretation is that the Lottery and the Company that runs it are actually an allegory of a deity or
God. Like the workings of a deity in the eyes of men, the Company that runs the Lottery acts apparently at random and through means not known by its subjects, leaving men with two options: to accept it to be all-knowing and all-powerful but mysterious, or to deny its existence. Both theories have supporters in this short story and in the real world.
In many other books, Borges dealt with metaphysical questions about the meaning of life and the possible existence of higher authorities, and also presented this same paradoxical vision of a world that may be run by a good and wise deity but seems to lack any discernible meaning. This view may also be considered present in "
The Library of Babel", another Borges story.
Borges makes a brief reference to
Franz Kafkaas Qaphqa, the legendary Latrine where spies of the Company leave information.
The Lottery, a short story by Shirley Jacksonwith a shocking and metaphoric lottery.
* [http://anagrammatically.com/2008/04/25/the-lottery-in-babylon-la-loteria-en-babilonia/ The Lottery in Babylon] (the full text of an English translation of the Spanish original)
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