Jorge Luis Borges

I’m reading Borges for the first time, so these posts will probably be nothing more than vague impressions (yet again). At the moment, I’m waiting for my copy of Fictions to arrive from the UK, so I hunted around for the first of the stories online. And here it is, Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.

At first I thought I’d stumbled onto a literary criticism of Borges, and I had to go and ask Claire whether it really was the right one. Sometimes I’m amazed at the limitations of my own mind. I have these set notions of what ‘short stories’ and ‘novels’ and ‘literature’ should be. Instinctively, my mind tells me that this is not a short story at all. But it’s a) fictional and b) short.

Pierre Menard raises a lot of the questions that I’ve often had about translators and interpretations and authorship. In his review, Borges examines the Menard’s efforts to go beyond a mere ‘translation’ of Don Quixote. Menard – who is a fictional 20th century French writer – immerses himself so thoroughly in the work so as to be able to re-create it, line for line, in the original 17th century Spanish.

I’m going to have to re-read this a couple of times before I can say anything meaningful about it, but I enjoyed my first encounter with Borges.


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