Monday, January 19, 2009

Rachael Folds-Lecture One

Before reading Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, the first thing that struck me about Borges penchant for fabricating literary reviews , is that it would not be possible in a digital culture to deceive people into believing his writings. This is due to the ability of using the web to search for the so called book and his fraudulent writings would be discovered, and therefore possibly harm his reputation as a writer. In the era that he published this work, it was not possible to check the authenticity easily or quickly, therefore rendering it more easily believable by his readers.
Borges appears to aim this writing towards a well read / educated audience and this is evident in his frequent literary references to the likes of Shakespeare and Poe. He also seems to elevate his academic status by stating his accomplishments of reading Quixote at a young age. This gives the reader the impression that he himself must be an academic and therefore should be believed. This also comes to the fore with the repeated mentions of his relations with the gentry such as Baroness de Bacourt.
He tries to convince the reader of his own knowledge of the book by referring to objects and situations he has been in with Menard in order to enhance self credulity. Quite confusingly he mentions two exact lines from each book and refers to Menards’ version as richer. How can the exact text appear richer and have a contrast in style? I felt that this story or writing was extremely confusing and lacked structure – was this Borges strategy. By creating such confusion in his readers, it eliminates their desire to appear unintelligent and thus stops them questioning.

3 comments:

mandy said...

I had the initial same thoughts, about the lines that are exact... that really confused me and I needed to ask someone 'did he really do that?' I think this has a great affect; yes, they are identical but each came from a different time-period context... and the one that's more contemporary is 'richer'. It's and obvious oddity but a great trick really into getting you to see his point about perspective... or so me thinks... :D

Paul said...

Interesting point re: the way this conceit would be much more difficult to achieve in the digital age. The residents of cyberspace would indeed be able to reveal that the works mentioned did not exist. Having said that, the Blair Witch Project worked as a "truth" - at least until it was revealed as fake.

Max said...

I am still unsure about his intent so wonder if it would make a difference today? Did he intend to deceive?