Ficciones, by Jorge Luis Borges: Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote


by Jorge Luis Borges,
Magical realism/Short stories
576 pages
Buy the book on my Bookshop

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Click here to see my other posts on this book.

Today, I’ll share my thoughts on:

Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote

This story focuses on the fictional author Pierre Menard and his works, his famous ones and some less known.  So less known that the narrator, appalled to find “a fallacious catalogue”, decides to rectify it by introducing us to Menard’s Don Quixote.
Menard’s ambition was to become a Cervantes himself and produce the exact same Don Quixote, without copying it. Or even to arrive to that result while remaining Menard. So which version of Don Quixote are we reading now? Cervantes’s or Menard’s? Who knows, lol!
By the way, I did fairly recently read the whole of Don Quixote, and then Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte. If you are familiar and like Cervantes’s version, I highly recommend Rushdie’s.

I found this story quite hilarious, for instance when the narrator compares Cervantes’s and Menard’s versions, which to our uninitiated eyes look quite the same, lol.

As usual, Borges is impressive with his lists of books and authors who do exist. There are quite a few French examples here, like Paul Valéry and Alphonse Daudet, among many others. I also noticed the great Ramon Llull (1232-1315), whose beautiful texts I have devoured in my early twenties, and whom not too many people seem to know.

There are also really funny connections between authors. The last sentence of the story is a great illustration:

Would not the attributing of The Imitation of Christ to Louis Ferdinand Céline or James Joyce be a sufficient renovation of its tenuous spiritual counsels?

This story shows another approach to metafiction, with Menard writing Cervantes’s book. In Borges’s schematics, we could easily find another author writing Cervantes’s- Menard’s book!

To go more in depth, I can only recommend the Course Hero page on this book.
Come back on December 20 for my thoughts on the next story: The Circular Ruins



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