The Lottery in Babylon

The Lottery in Babylon

Infobox short story |
name = The Babylon Lottery
title_orig = La lotería en Babilonia
translator = Anthony Bonner
author = Jorge Luis Borges
country = Argentina flagicon|Argentina
language = Spanish
series =
genre = Fantasy, short story
published_in = "Ficciones"
publisher =
media_type = Print
pub_date = 1941
english_pub_date = 1962
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Babylon Lottery" (original Spanish title: "La lotería en Babilonia") is a fantasy short story by 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".

Plot summary

It describes a fictional society in Babylon in which all activities are dictated by an all-encompassing lottery, a metaphor for 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 Kafka as Qaphqa, the legendary Latrine where spies of the Company leave information.

ee also

* The Lottery, a short story by Shirley Jackson with a shocking and metaphoric lottery.

External links

* [ The Lottery in Babylon] (the full text of an English translation of the Spanish original)

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