"Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote"
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
The visible work left by this novelist is easily and briefly enumerated. Impardonable, therefore, are the omissions and additions perpetrated by Madame Henri Bachelier in a fallacious catalogue which a certain daily, whose Protestant tendency is no secret, has had the inconsideration to inflict upon its deplorablereaders--though these be few and Calvinist, if not Masonic and circumcised. The true friends of Menard have viewed this catalogue with alarm and even with a certain melancholy. One might say that only yesterday we gathered before his final monument, amidst the lugubrious cypresses, and already Error tries to tarnish his Memory . . . Decidedly, a brief rectification is unavoidable. I am aware that itis quite easy to challenge my slight authority. I hope, however, that I shall not be prohibited from mentioning two eminent testimonies. The Baroness de Bacourt (at whose unforgettable vendredis . I had the honor of meeting the lamented poet) has seen fit to approve the pages which follow. The Countess de Bagnoregio, one of the most delicate spirits of the Principality of Monaco (and now ofPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, following her recent marriage to the international philanthropist Simon Kautzsch, who has been so inconsiderately slandered, alas! by the victims of his disinterested maneuvers) has sacrificed "to veracity and to death" (such were her words) the stately reserve which is her distinction, and, in an open letter published in the magazine Luxe , concedes me her approval as well.These authorizations, I think, are not entirely insufficient. I have said that Menard's visible work can be easily enumerated. Having examined with care his personal files, I find that they contain the following items: a) A Symbolist sonnet which appeared twice (with variants) in the review La conque (issues of March and October 1899). b) A monograph on the possibility of constructing a poeticvocabulary of concepts which would not be synonyms or periphrases of those which make up our everyday language, "but rather ideal objects created according to convention and essentially designed to satisfy poetic needs" (Nîmes, 1901).
2 c) A monograph on "certain connections or affinities" between the thought of Descartes, Leibniz and John Wilkins (Nîmes, 1903). d) A monograph on Leibniz'sCharacteristica universalis (Nîmes 1904). e) A technical article on the possibility of improving the game of chess, eliminating one of the rook's pawns. Menard proposes, recommends, discusses and finally rejects this innovation. f ) A monograph on Raymond Lully's Ars magna generalis (Nîmes, 1906). g) A translation, with prologue and notes, of Ruy /˴pez de Segura's Libro de la LQYHQFL n liberal y arte deljuego del axedrez (Paris, 1907). h) The work sheets of a monograph on George Boole's symbolic logic. i) An examination of the essential metric laws of French prose, illustrated with examples taken from Saint-Simon (Revue des langues romanes , Montpellier, October 1909). j) A reply to Luc Durtain (who had denied the existence of such laws), illustrated with examples from Luc Durtain (Revue deslangues romanes , Montpellier, December 1909). k) A manuscript translation of the Aguja de navegar cultos of Quevedo, entitled La boussole des précieux . I) A preface to the Catalogue of an exposition of lithographs by Carolus Hourcade (Nîmes, 1914). m) The work Les problèmes d'un problème (Paris, 1917), which discusses, in chronological order, the different solutions given to the illustrious problemof Achilles and the tortoise. Two editions of this book have appeared so far; the second bears as an epigraph Leibniz's recommendation "Ne craignez point, monsieur, la tortue" and revises the chapters dedicated to Russell and Descartes. n) A determined analysis of the "syntactical customs" of Toulet (N. R. F. , March 1921). Menard--I recall--declared that censure and praise are sentimental...