Tlön Projects
















The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges discovered Tlön in the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia (New York 1917), an inaccurate reprint of the 1902 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Together with his friend Bioy Casares, who possessed a rare copy of this encyclopaedia, he read about Uqbar, a country situated somewhere in Asia Minor. The entry seems to precisely indicate Uqbar’s borders, however the vague reference points prove to be rivers, craters and mountain ranges from the same region. The historical section describes islands with obelisks and the unearthing of stone mirrors. The section on language and literature was brief, but stated that Uqbar’s literature was fantastical in nature and that the epics never referred to reality, but to two imaginary planets Mlejnas and Tlön...



Further research by Borges and Casares into Uqbar at the National Library proved fruitless. They searched atlases, catalogues, geographic society annuals, travel journals and the writings of historians: no one had ever been to Uqbar. Not a single index contained references to Uqbar.


Months later, Borges found a package left behind at a hotel by Herbert Ashe, a deceased friend of his father’s. It was a book in English with 1001 pages. The yellow cover bore the title: A First Encyclopaedia of Tlön. Vol XI Hlaer to Jangr. What Borges held was an extensive, methodical excerpt from the full history of an unknown planet, its architectures and playing cards, its dismaying mythologies and the clamour of its languages, its emperors and seas, its minerals and birds and its fish, with its algebra and its fire, with its theological and metaphysical infinity.