Borges introduces a labyrinth in the very first story, “El Inmortal.”
the labyrinth is, in fact, the location of the story.
The narrator, later revealed to
be the immortal Cartaphilus, dreams a prophetic dream in the beginning of the
story, in which, at the center of “un exiguo y nitido laberinto” (Borges 10, lit. “a
sharp and meager labyrinth” ) he encounters a black well, from which he longs to
drink, but is prevented by the knowledge that he will die before he reaches the
end of the labyrinth.
This labyrinth becomes literal later in the story, when he
visits the City of the Immortals and becomes trapped in the long series of caverns
beneath the City.
The third and final labyrinth comes at the very end of the story, when
Cartaphilus and Homer resolve to find the river that removes – or
21, lit. “erases”) -- immortality.
The desire to die becomes at last overwhelming,
and in order to find death Cartaphilus – who only now adopts the name, which
literally means “lover of maps” -- travels over the entire world until he finds the
river that once again bestows mortality on him.
This search is the third and final
labyrinth, and the one that finally allows him to complete his quest.
it is only after passing through this labyrinth and arriving at the stage of
contentment with his own mortality that Cartaphilus is able to evaluate his own
account of his time with the immortals in the City.
One year after drinking of the
second spring, Cartaphilus revises and comments on his story, and then passes it
along to the princess and departs, never to be seen again.
It seems, then, that the journey which Cartaphilus takes at the end of the