Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Menard’s fragmentary Quixote is more subtle than Cervantes’. Cervantes crudely juxtaposes the humble provincial reality of his country against the fantasies of the romance, while Menard chooses as his “reality” the land of Carmen during the century that saw the Battle of Lepanto and the plays of Lope de Vega. What burlesque brushstrokes of local color that choice would have inspired in a Maurice Barres or a Rodriquez Larreta! Yet Menard, with perfect naturalness, avoids them. In his work, there are no gypsy goings-on or conquistadors or mystics of Philip IIs or autos da fe. He ignores, overlooks—or banishes—local color. That disdain posits a new meaning for the “historical novel.” That disdain condemns Salammbo, with no possibility of appeal.

--Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, Jorge Luis Borges (1941).



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