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The Aleph

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El Aleph es un cuento del escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges publicado en la revista Sur en 1945 y en el libro homonimo por la editorial Emece de Buenos Aires en 1949. El original se encuentra en la Biblioteca Nacional de Espana, que lo adquirio por subasta en 1985. Presenta numerosas posibles interpretaciones; entre ellas la que plantea una lectura desde el existencialismo, basada en la idea de la incapacidad del ser humano de enfrentarse a la eternidad. Esta idea esta presente en muchos de los cuentos borgianos y en su lectura y manejo de autores preexistencialistas como Soren Kierkegaard, Franz Kafka, y Arthur Schopenhauer. En este cuento, que se ha convertido en objeto de culto, se puede reconocer toda su literatura, de tal forma que puede ser calificado como el cuento paradigmatico de la vasta biblioteca borgiana, abrevando en la ironia, el juego con el lenguaje y la erudicion -tanto veridica como ficticia-. Esto ultimo se deja entrever, por ejemplo, en los epigrafes iniciales, donde se cita a Hobbes y Shakespeare, asi como en la postdata de 1943 donde se hace una supuesta investigacion acerca de otros Alephs citando a autores historicos como Pedro Henriquez Urena, Richard Francis Burton, Luciano de Samosata e Ibn Jaldun."

28 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1945

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About the author

Jorge Luis Borges

1,781 books12k followers
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo, usually referred to as Jorge Luis Borges (Spanish pronunciation: [xoɾxe lwis boɾxes]), was an Argentine writer and poet born in Buenos Aires. In 1914, his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school and traveled to Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in Surrealist literary journals. He also worked as a librarian and public lecturer. Borges was fluent in several languages. He was a target of political persecution during the Peron regime, and supported the military juntas that overthrew it.

Due to a hereditary condition, Borges became blind in his late fifties. In 1955, he was appointed director of the National Public Library (Biblioteca Nacional) and professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1961, he came to international attention when he received the first International Publishers' Prize Prix Formentor. His work was translated and published widely in the United States and in Europe. He died in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986.

J. M. Coetzee said of Borges: "He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 404 reviews
Profile Image for Jairo Morales.
Author 1 book16 followers
October 31, 2014
La literatura de Borges es exigente con el lector. Es necesario sentarse y aislarse del mundo para ser uno solo con el libro. Al terminar de leer "El Aleph" he llegado a una conclusión que quizás le sirva a los que quieren comenzar a leerlo: Antes de leer a Borges, primero tienes que haber leído mucho.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
1,029 reviews17.7k followers
August 23, 2023
Just sayin' - but What IF? What if the Aleph, being a Fantasy Story, were a prescient look from way back in Borges' time -

Towards our current very mixed blessing, the World Wide Web?

Imagine, if you will, a vantage point from which you can see the infinite permutations of Everything that goes on in the world around us...

Back then, it was unimaginable. But now it's US.

The premise is far out, but the writing is MAGICAL!
The summer of 1968 was a good one for me and my old friends, especially my late friend Larry Ballard.

That summer he invited us to his family cottage, an invitation that hinged on the approval of our parents - Doug's, the third member of our Birchwood Avenue Buddies - and my own.

My Mom was dead set against it. I couldn't swim, having chickened out of swimming instruction at the YMCA.

I couldn't stomach the thought of swimming with other preteen boys in my birthday suit!

My introversion once again scuttled my bravery. Oh, well.

But Larry's bravery crescendoed in '68, having proven himself as a linebacker on the Merivale gridiron squad.

Football had become a passion. But head injuries plagued him!

Already that year his academics suffered. So repeating senior year was a setback.But he had a compensation: a new Yamaha 350!

And we all finally went to his cottage together, too. I brought along this Borges to read.

This story stood out for me that summer. The Aleph is the insight of satori! Or so, I fondly understood the symbolism of it back then.

Today I read a fantastic GR review that restored all my memories of that long-ago read -

And I didn't know it then, but it had set me on a Quest. Like the White Rabbit did for Alice.

Insight is pretty rum. For it's a blessing - and a curse. Alice sees both.

So two summers later, a marvellous epiphany did that to me in spades, as I say on my homepage here.

I chanced within myself upon an incredible revelation of the perpetual Newness of Life - a newness pregnant with Hope! But it was edgy.

Habitual faith softens that edge, so you can sleep. But that initial vision was like the First Day.

Like my new Catholic Faith, it was both a blessing and a Cross...

Built into any blessing is awakening to pain - for having had a great insight, we must go on living everyday life. And living is chronic pain, satori or not.

For me that's the joy of a beautiful Mass. In the Mass we may see that God became just like us. And chronic pain is terminal.

If nothing else speeds our death, disappointment may tilt the balance. That's why Catholics always strive to see the blessed side of life, in story and song.

My faith therefore is a balancing act -

Especially nowadays -

When it mollifies all the monstrous TV newscasts...

Along with the Aleph's hideous Face of Pure Evil.

For seeing the world thru the instrument of the Aleph is simply seeing our innocent world - from the DEVIL's P.O.V.!
Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books699 followers
August 31, 2017

"All language is a set of symbols whose use among its speakers assumes a shared past."

.... and so there must be things beyond describing powers of language. What if some day you were to come across a thing or an experience who is nothing like shared past? The human impulse to communicate must find a let out, and where mere words are not enough we need poetry:

Daneri’s real work lay not in the poetry but in his invention of reasons why the poetry should be admired.

Daneri, like most good poets, didn’t invent reasons, he found them - found them in the inexplicable Aleph.

Borges is not only talking about nature of language or importance of poetry, he also seems to be speculating why the descriptions of supernatural are so vague or strange:

“How, then, can I translate into words the limitless Aleph, which my floundering mind can scarcely encompass? Mystics, faced with the same problem, fall back on symbols: to signify the godhead, one Persian speaks of a bird that somehow is all birds; Alanus de Insulis, of a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere; Ezekiel, of a four-faced angel who at one and the same time moves east and west, north and south.”


“Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Its use for the strange sphere in my story may not be accidental. For the Kabbalah, that letter stands for the En Soph , the pure and boundless godhead; it is also said that it takes the shape of a man pointing to both heaven and earth, in order to show that the lower world is the map and mirror of the higher; for Cantor’s Mengenlehre , it is the symbol of trans- finite numbers, of which any part is as great as the whole.”

Again, if Borges and Daneri who have seen Aleph find themselves doubting the reality of same (perhaps an intellectual fear (fear of being ourselves insande makes us doubt anything we experience beyond that shared past), how can a reader who has but their words is supposed to believe in its existence?

Anyways, Daneri’s is taken from DANte aleghERI and like the great poet – he suffers a hell in being exposed to the inexplicable Aleph; puratory (which comes from author’s little lie) and paradise (latter success).

But why should Daneri find that sudden success? Borges stories are like little riddles in which everything strange has a beautiful explanation and that explanation is probably hinted at somewhere else in the story itself. Daneri’s obsession finds a mirror in narrator’s obsession for Beatriz Viterbo – and there lies the answer. The doubt created by narrator has same effect on Daneri that death of Beatriz had on narrator; it made him feel easy – when object of one’s obsession is set beyond possibility of possession, it doesn't kill the obsession itself (or it couldn't really be a strong obsession in first place) but it does ease one's mind about thinking of possibilities to possess. Daneri probably just stopping try too hard too hard to interpret Aleph.

“...now that she was dead, I could devote myself to her memory, without hope but also without humiliation.


"So foolish did his ideas seem to me, so pompous and so drawn out his exposition, that I linked them at once to literature and asked him why he didn’t write them down."
Profile Image for Owlseyes .
1,670 reviews269 followers
February 22, 2019

His mother played the piano and sang. She spoke the languages. Their correspondence is still studied. Leonora Acevedo.

Borges had some pride acknowledging his lineage: many races involved: from Belgium, Normand, Spanish, English, Portuguese; even Jewish ascendancy.

His father was a lawyer and professor of Psychology, in Argentina.

In his father’s library, in a humble suburb of his poor "bairro”, he read from: Plato, Stevenson, Goethe, Chesterton…;…Don Quixote, El Fausto. Adding to it: Greek mythology. At 6 years of age Borges had “a precocious imagination”.

Due to problems in father’s sight, the family moved to Switzerland; there, Borges had the chance to develop his Latin, French and German languages.

ʾĀlp is the first letter of many Semitic abjads (alphabets), including Phoenician Aleph Phoenician aleph.svg, Syriac 'Ālap ܐ, Hebrew Aleph א, and Arabic Alif ا.(FROM WIKI)

He just liked her: Beatriz Viterbo. And then on a February day of 1929, she died. So, to demonstrate his devotion to her, he visited her place every 30th of April, her birthday. Namely, to study her “many portraits”.

In 1933 he was invited to dinner, in that place. In 1934, the cousin of Beatriz, Carlos Argentino Daneri, a writer, invited him. They both wrote.

Carlos read his poetry to the narrator; the latter found nothing that memorable in the piece; it was Carlos intention to “versify the entire planet’s roundness”.

On a second invitation, Carlos read more of his verses in a café; then again, the narrator felt the “verbal ostentation” ; like, instead of “lactario,lactinoso or lechal”: lechoso; or instead of “azulino,azulenco or azulillo”: azulado.

“Daneri is crazy”, thought the narrator; Carlos “inspired in me rancor”; “he used me”.

But all is not that bad for the narrator. Daneri has got something to be prized: though the house is meant to go down, Daneri tells the narrator the place has got an Aleph: “a point of space which contains all the points”. Somewhere in the cellar, Daneri has discovered it.

“Then you can have a dialogue with all the images of Beatriz”.
It’s “the microcosm of the cabalist and the alchemist”.

What´s so best for the narrator? Will he try it?

Yes, he will; he’ll get to see the "fading traits" of Beatriz.

“I closed my eyes and then saw the Aleph”.
How to tell about it? Was it a true Aleph?

Ezekiel saw a 4-winged angel.

Ah, by the way: Carlos got a prize for his writing; the narrator’s prose got : not a single vote.

The house has been demolished. …it’s the 1st of March of 1943.

Maybe too hermetic, but worth the try reading it. You’ll never get to say: “there’s no point doing it”.

Aleph, the point, is there.

Profile Image for TheBookWarren.
435 reviews101 followers
July 20, 2023
4.25 ⭐️ — This was an absolute joy to read, and anyone at all whom enjoys a bold, yet simple novella must fit this little gem into their TBR shelf posthaste!

In Jorge Luis Borges' mesmerizing novella "The Aleph," the reader embarks on an ethereal odyssey of metaphysical exploration and poetic reflection. Borges' literary prowess shines as he unfurls a tapestry of philosophical musings, gracefully interwoven with surreal and enchanting imagery.

At the heart of the narrative lies the enigmatic Aleph, a celestial point where the universe's entirety converges, transcending the boundaries of comprehension. Borges' prose dances between reality and unreality, inviting readers to question the fabric of existence itself.

The characters, though sparse, are rich in complexity, their interactions punctuating the philosophical ponderings. Borges masterfully traverses the depths of memory and time, leaving us with existential musings to contemplate.

While the novella's intellectual depth is near unparalleled, some may find its labyrinthine narrative style a challenging pursuit, even though it’s a novella, it actually makes this perspective all the more challenging. Yet, those willing to immerse themselves in Borges' labyrinth of ideas will discover a profound & largely enlightening journey.

Borges weaves a literary tapestry that lingers, inspiring introspection and stirring the imagination—a bewitching exploration of the ineffable & the boundless nature of human thought, and reflection.
Profile Image for Reemi.
242 reviews191 followers
November 7, 2017
The version i read (English) was 11 pages long , yet it was one of the hardest things i have ever read.

the Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew
alphabet. Its use for the strange sphere in my story may not be accidental. For the
Kabbala, the letter stands for the En Soph, the pure and boundless godhead; it is
also said that it takes the shape of a man pointing to both heaven and earth, in
order to show that the lower world is the map and mirror of the higher

i can't describe what this books is about , you have to read it and see how your mind interprets its meaning . all i know that now , all i'm thinking about is El Aleph , would i be able to handle it if i found it ? would i be able to handle the absolute truth ?

Some quotes that i liked :


"Of course, if you don’t see it, your
incapacity will not invalidate what I have experienced"



last one , i describes that one particular moment , in which after u witness if , nothing will ever be the same :

"I was afraid that not a
single thing on earth would ever again surprise me; I was afraid I would never
again be free of all I had seen."

I loved it , but i can guarantee , its not for everybody . at . all.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,735 reviews477 followers
April 5, 2022
The Aleph is a point in space that contains all the other points so everything in the universe can be seen simultaneously. Borges has wrapped the story about the Aleph in two other story ideas--the first about unrequited love and death, and the second about writers and artistic merit.

The idea of the Aleph is very complex. In a commentary on the short story, Borges stated, "What eternity is to time, the Aleph is to space." Borges has combined this science fiction element with a realistic story line so that it seemed believable. Great story!
Profile Image for Floripiquita.
1,378 reviews159 followers
December 23, 2021
“Un hombre se confunde, gradualmente, con la forma de su destino; un hombre es, a la larga, sus circunstancias”.

Solo sé que no sé nada y que me queda mucho por leer y aprender. Leer a Borges es muy exigente y nada fácil, pero precisamente por eso me ha parecido toda una experiencia.

#Popsugar21 Reto 28: Un libro de realismo mágico
Profile Image for Luis Diego Camacho Mora.
349 reviews4 followers
June 1, 2014
Probablemente es el cuento de Borges que más han analizado literariamente. Pero a mí lo que me atrapó es lo que lo hace sentir este cuento. La alegoría hacia la eternidad y la conceptualización del Aleph como el punto donde se encuentran todos los puntos. Termina uno con el pensamiento de encontrar ese Aleph propio, personal, más allá de la sola lectura del cuento.
Profile Image for Pepe Llopis Manchón.
322 reviews33 followers
January 14, 2019
La literatura y el alma de Borges son tan grandes como aquello que puede vislumbrarse más allá del Aleph.
Profile Image for Paras2.
299 reviews69 followers
June 1, 2019
Weird but cool. Might need to read about it.
Profile Image for  Aggrey Odera.
228 reviews42 followers
November 11, 2021
I claim to hate "metaphysical bullshit", then I run into something like this story, with all its insistence that profundity exists in the world even if we lack the language to describe it, and suddenly, in ironic confirmation of how wrong I can be, I lack the words to express my prior disagreement. This story is so beautiful. It takes all the useless philosophizing and brings it down to life in the most beautiful prose. Through vivid description and not logical argumentation, it suggests (rightly, I think) that literature (and especially poetry), not philosophy, presents our best hope for trying to see the world. Literature offers a window into the world, one that necessarily assumes a multitude of perspectives. It forces us to acknowledge the messiness of the world and the limits of our perceptive capacities. Philosophy, on the contrary, in its aspiration to representationalism, pretends to provide a mirror. Per philosophy, the "real" world is as philosophy claims it sees it- a one-to-one relationship between what exists in actuality and what exists in our minds. And yet the beauty of the world, and one might even say the "truth" of it, is in its intense complicatedness, its contingency that leaves us forever seekers. I had my doubts about reading Borges again since I remember strongly disliking "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis, Tertius." But my, my, what a champ! I may just have discovered my next fixation.

Thanks to Alasdair Phillips-Robins for the recommendation.
Profile Image for B. P. Rinehart.
747 reviews256 followers
October 3, 2018
"All language is an alphabet of symbols whose use presupposes a past shared by all other interlocutors."

Hola Señor Borges. I was recently reminded that I have not read Jorge Luis Borges, and this fact weighed heavily on my heart. I decided to read this short story (translated to English by Anthony Kerrigan) since I had it on-hand. This is a story about memory, language and time. How does one describe something that is indescribable? Indescribable, because it describes everything. That's what this story is about. It uses real-life people (including Borges as the protagonist), to tell this story of happening on something that invokes, but also conceals--and that's what interest me about this tale.
Profile Image for Sinny N.C..
Author 1 book7 followers
February 11, 2015
-Beatriz, Beatriz Elena, Beatriz Elena Viterbo, Beatriz querida, Beatriz perdida para siempre, soy yo, soy Borges.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Patrick.
143 reviews4 followers
May 30, 2020
Esto lo lees bien fumado, y no sales vivo de la lectura. Cierto es que es muy exigente, y en mi caso, al terminar de escribir mi opinión, iré raudo a cotillear por la red porque fijo que se me han pasado un montón de cosas. Además, unas frases como: "Estaba satisfecho con la derrota, porque era un fin, y estaba cansado", que hacen que todo esté ahí bien puesto y bien sexy, no como literatura metralla. (Decir que yo he leído un recopilatorio de relatos, no solo el Aleph, que es uno de ellos).
Recomendado pero a sabiendas que se viene densidad guapa y que toca saborear frase a frase.
Profile Image for Claire.
75 reviews
June 24, 2015
Some short stories are simply amazing: witty, full of philosophy, dreamy... And others resonated a bit less. The theme of the maze is there throughout the novels, either as real, concrete mazes or as philosophical, abstract mazes.
Profile Image for Gonzalo.
49 reviews1 follower
February 7, 2022
“Ser inmortal es baladí; menos el hombre, todas las criaturas lo son, pues ignoran la muerte”

Eterno Borges.
Profile Image for SemneBune.
382 reviews39 followers
August 7, 2014
Nu există literatură modernă fără scriitorii Gabriel García Márquez sau Jorge Luis Borges. Este inestimabil rolul literelor lor în crearea unei noi literaturi. Practic, oamenii au reinventat modul de a spune o poveste. Este de ajuns să citim ”Un veac de singurătate” sau ”Aleph”, pentru a înțelege că literatura lor este aparte. Pe aceeași linie cu Sabato, Casares sau Cortazar, minunata abilitate de a îmbina realul cu fantasticul, în cel mai natural mod posibil, este fără doar și poate o realizare demnă de cercetat și de admirat.

Talentul nu ține cont de întinderea pe pagini, iar Borges nu a scris roma, pentru că nu avea nevoie de întinderi mari, pentru a crea lumi în lumi,în lumi. Avem aici un volum de povestiri, dintre cele mai bune, care susținea această teorie.

de la sursă: Jorge Luis Borges – Aleph – SemneBune http://semnebune.ro/2012/jorge-luis-b...
Profile Image for Saúl Girón.
418 reviews9 followers
June 22, 2016
Leer a Borges me ha resultado un tanto exigente! No se le puede leer si no está uno en total armonía con el libro, en soledad (a lo sumo, con algo de música ambiental).
Algunos cuentos me encantaron. Todos los tuve que releer.
Indiscutiblemente, mi español ha sufrido cambios (para mejorar) después de leer al Maestro Borges.
Sencillamente, me gustó!
Profile Image for Alex.
191 reviews14 followers
October 2, 2017
Fascinating story. I really don't know what to say except WOW. As someone wrote on their review, it requires an appealing prior literature knowledge to fully digest it, but it's worth reading. At some point, the story, like the Aleph, gobbles you up into its infinite space and doesn't let you go.
Profile Image for Felipe CZ.
514 reviews33 followers
August 9, 2018
A strange but incredible story by Borges. The point of conversion for all things and a metaphor for other metaphors. One of Borges' most representative works. Must-read.
Profile Image for Netscape.
20 reviews10 followers
October 9, 2018
¡Me ha gustado mucho! Muy al estilo de Borges, como si nos invitara a mirar a través de una ventana y así descubrir las grandes maravillas de la literatura universal... ¡Una delicia!
Profile Image for Kuzco.
14 reviews
January 7, 2021
Borges sollte jeder Mal gelesen haben, der sich für Literatur interessiert...
Profile Image for Mirko Gustic.
102 reviews14 followers
August 31, 2021
Worthwhile. Probably much better than I'm able to perceive. Nonetheless, very unique book, with lots of angles one would otherwise had only very small opportunity to encounter.
Profile Image for Ale Vizcarra.
78 reviews8 followers
December 9, 2020
Lectura complicada y bastante densa (aunque son 15 páginas aproximadamente).

Un cuento filosófico con referencias a muchas obras, autores y conceptos filosóficos y lingüísticos. Al finalizarla tuve que leer un análisis más profundo para comprender todo lo que era el Aleph y qué había leído.

“Quien ve a través del Aleph, después no puede sorprenderse de nada, porque en un instante lo habrá visto todo”. Quizás por eso al comienzo los poemas de su amigo le resultan caóticos. “Al intentar describir lo que el Aleph le ha mostrado, las palabras no pueden parecer más que caóticas e inconexas, pues la narración solo puede representar una cosa a la vez”


Recomiendo mucho, pero con paciencia.

Profile Image for analú.
84 reviews
June 21, 2018
Cualquier destino, por largo y complicado que sea, consta en realidad de un solo momento: el momento en que el hombre sabe para siempre quién es.

¡Increíble Borges! La verdad es que lo único que he leído de Borges es su poesía, pero si antes pensé que la poesía de Borges era buena, su prosa es significativamente mejor. Los cuentos en este libro pertenecen al género fantástico y están representados de la mejor forma: simples y originales. Cada uno de los cuentos poseen una profunda planificación previa, la cual es bastante notoria teniendo en consideración los personajes, el escenario y la historia de trasfondo. El libro posee una carga filosófica considerable y su enseñanza es bastante amena. A decir verdad, se ha convertido en uno de mis libros favoritos. En definitiva, las partes que más he disfrutado han sido las que cuestionaban el ser, el tiempo, el universo. En este libro, se puede ver claramente los motivos literarios de Borges: el espejo, el laberinto, el sueño, entre otros.

Un hombre se confunde, gradualmente, con la forma de su destino; un hombre es, a la larga, sus circunstancias

Considerando que es Borges del que estamos hablando, hubo algunas cosas que no pude entender por no poseer suficiente información al respecto. Sin embargo, los temas que pude comprender a la perfección lograron crear emoción en mi. El Aleph es un libro corto, pero contiene una gran cantidad de información. Por lo tanto, para poder tener la mejor experiencia con el mismo es mejor conocer acerca de los temas que trata.
Author 46 books10 followers
July 23, 2021
Llegó un nuevo maestro a la clase de literatura universal, no recuerdo su nombre. Dijo que trabajaba con el mejor escritor vivo y que deberíamos conocer su obra: nos dejó de tarea leer El Aleph. El cuento me dejó patidifusa. Para la siguiente clase, mi mejor amiga no había hecho la tarea así que le conté lo mejor que pude la anécdota y mis impresiones. Hicimos un control de lectura que ella aprobó con 10 y yo reprobé. No volvimos a ver al profesor. En este recuento me pregunto quién sería el maestro y si no estaría en los líos políticos del momento y por eso su breve estancia. Lo que es claro es que no contesté lo que el maestro quería. Pero leí y me dejé tocar por el cuento, tanto que hoy no olvido la portada, el color crema del papel, la cantidad de preguntas que se desencadenaron en mí. Me sucedieron más cosas que a mi amiga con esa experiencia, ella comprendió algo de lo que salió de mi boca, yo conecté con algo de aquella historia, sobre todo conecté con las preguntas. Hoy tengo clara la diferencia entre lectura de comprensión y lectura de conexión, no son excluyentes, aunque a veces no suceden al mismo tiempo ni en el mismo orden. Creo que desde ese día oficialmente me convertí en lectora.
#Argentina #Cosmovisión #Cuento
Profile Image for Alejo Montañez.
21 reviews1 follower
January 29, 2020
Jorge Luis Borges en este libro mediante pequeños cuentos cuenta historias que convergen en reflexiones sobre la perspectiva de la verdad, la experiencia de lo infinito, la realidad tangible, es sin duda una gran recopilación. Sin embargo, el mejor de los cuentos, el del Aleph, cuenta una historia de él mismo viendo y envidiando las conexiones del universo.
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