When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that is mine alone, for which I was born. There I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives for their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me.
And for the course of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexations, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death:
I pass into their world.
Why does it make us uneasy to know that the map is within the map and the thousand and one nights are within the book of A Thousand and One Nights? Why does it disquiet us to know that Don Quixote is a reader of the Quixote and Hamlet is a spectator of Hamlet? I believe I have found the answer: those inversions suggest that if the characters in the story can be readers or spectators, then we, their readers or spectators, can be fictitious. In 1833 Carlyle observed that universal history is an infinite sacred book that all men write and read and try to understand, in which they too are written.
—Jorge Luis Borges
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