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p.384: Mrs. Figueroa: Here, clear in the Spanish, though difficult to convey in the English, the judge slights Clara GlencairndeFigueroa by referring to her by her mar- ried name (Figueroa'swife) rather than by her "personal" and "professional" name, Clara Glencairn. She is looked down on, as the story subtly shows, for her social stand- ing, which is in contrast to thevie bohemethat she would like to think she had lived and the reputation as a painter she would like to think she had earned for herself. Note "Clara Glencairn" throughout the paragraph on p. 383, for the more "professional" or "personally respectful" mode of naming, and note the way the story swings between the two modes as one or another of Clara's "statuses" is being emphasized.
The Other Duel p.386:Adrogue:Inthe early years of the century, a town south of Buenos Aires (now simply a suburb or enclave of the city) whereBorgesand his family often spent vacations; a place of great nostalgia forBorges.
p.386: Battle ofManantiales:In Uruguay. For many years (ca. i837-ca. 1886) Uruguay was torn by rivalry and armed conflicts between theBlancos(the conserva- tive White party) led by, among others, ManuelOribeandTimoteo Aparicio(see be- low), and theColorados(the more liberal Red party) led byVenancio Floresand LorenzoBaiile.Manantiales(1871) marked the defeat of Aparicio'sBlancosby theColo- radosunder Batlle. Once Cardoso andSilveiraare seen joining up with Aparicio's forces, this understated sentence tells the Argentine or Uruguayan reader (or any other Latin American reader familiar, through little more than high school history cla.s.ses, with the history of the Southern Cone-these dates and places are the very stuff of Latin American history) that their end was fated to be b.l.o.o.d.y.
p.386:CerroLargo:A frontier area in northeast Uruguay, near the Brazilian bor- der.Apariciohad to recruit from all over the countryside, as he was faced by the Triple Alliance of Brazil, Argentina, and the Uruguayan Colorado government.
p. 387:Thirty-three: This in homage to the tiny band of thirty-three soldiers who in 1825 crossed the Uruguay River along with Juan Antonio Lavalleja and ManuelOribein order to galvanize the Uruguayans to rise up against the Brazilians who at that time governed them. The flag of the Uruguayan rebellion against Brazil carried the motto Libertad o Muerte("Liberty or Death"). ThusSilveiraa.s.serts himself as a tough, independent, and yet "patriotic"gaucho.
p. 387:Aparicio's revolution: See the note to p. 386, above.
p. 387:Montoneros:Themontonerosweregaucho(Blanco, or White, party) forces, something like quasi-independent armies, organized under local leaders to fight the Unitarians (theColorados,or Red party) during the civil wars that followed the wars of independence.
p. 387:White badges: To identify them with theBlancos,as opposed to theColo- rados(Red party). The armies would have been somewhat ragtag groups, so these badges (or sometimes hatbands) would have been virtually the only way to distin- guish ally from enemy in the pitched battles of the civil war.
p. 388:Cut anybody's throat: Here and in many other places inBorges,the slashing of opponents' throats is presented in the most matter-of-fact way. It was a custom of armies on the move not to take prisoners; what would they do with them? So as a mat- ter of course, and following the logic of this type of warfare (however "barbaric" it may seem to us today), losers of battles were summarily executed in this way.
p. 390:Guayaquil: The name of this city in Ecuador would evoke for the Latin American reader one of the mostmomentous turns in the wars of independence, since it was here that GeneralsSimon BolivarandJose San Martinmet to decide on a strategy for the final expulsion of the Spaniards from Peru. After this meeting, San Martin left his armies under the command of Bolivar, who went on to defeat the Spaniards, but there is no record of what occurred at the meeting or of the reasons that led San Martin to retire from the command of his own army and leave the glory NOTES TO THE FICTIONS.
of liberation to Bolivar. A long historical controversy has been waged over the possible reasons, which the story briefly recounts. Clearly, the "contest of wills" thought by some to have occurred between the two generals is reflected in the contest of wills be- tween the two modern historians. For a fuller (and very comprehensible) summary of this event and thehistoriographiecontroversy surrounding it, see Daniel Balderston,Out of Context: Historical Reference and the Representation of Reality inBorges(Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1993), pp. 115-131. In this chapter Balderston also discussesBorges'equating of historywith fiction, providing us another important way of reading the story. See also, for a brief historical summary,The Penguin History of Latin America (Edwin Williams, New York/ London: Penguin, 1992), pp. 227-228 andpa.s.sim in that chapter.
p. 391:Gen. Jose de San Martin:Asthe note just above indicates, San Martin (1778-1850), an Argentine, was one of the two most important generals of the wars of independence, the other beingSimonBolivar, a Venezuelan. This story is subtly writ- ten from the Argentine point of view, because it deals with the reasons-psychological, perhaps, or perhaps military, or, indeed, perhaps other-for which San Martin, after winning extraordinary battles in his own country and in Peru (where he came to be called Protector of Peru), turned his entire army over to Bolivar so that Bolivar could go on to win the independence of the continent from Spain. The enigma of San Martin is one that absorbed the Argentine historical mind for decades, and perhaps still does, so any letters that might have even the slightest, or the most self-serving (if Argentines will forgive me that possible slur on the general's psyche), explanation for his actions would be of supreme importance to Argentine history. This story, then, is filled with those pulls and tugs between one sort of (or nationality of) history and an- other, one sort of "rationale" and another.
Fishburn and Hughes note that the Masonic lodge mentioned in the story (p- 395) is theLogia Lautaro,of which San Martin was indeed a member. Masonic lodges were famed as centers of progressive, not to say revolutionary, thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Modern Freemasonry was founded in the seven- teenth century.
p. 392:CalleChile:It is Fishburn and Hughes's contention that the physical, geo- graphical location of this street is not really important here, though they give that lo- cation as "in the southern part of Buenos Aires,... some ten blocks from PlazaConst.i.tucion";their interesting view of this street's mention here is, rather, that it is a symbolic name, linking JLB (that library he had inhabited [see"Juan Murana"in this volume], the house, and perhaps some of theobjets de la gloirethat JLB had inherited from his grandfather and other members of his family) with the narrator of "Guayaquil": "The narrator lives in a street called Chile,Borgeslived in a street calledMaipuand both names are a.s.sociated in the Argentine mind, since San Martin's great victory in Chile was the battle ofMaipu."
The Gospel According to Mark p.397:Baltasar Espinosa:The Spanish reader will sooner or later a.s.sociate the young man's surname,Espinosa("th.o.r.n.y") with the Christian "crown of thorns" evoked at the end of this story.
p.397:Ramos Mejia: "A part of Buenos Aires in which the rich had weekendhouses containing an English colony; now an industrial suburb" (Fishburn and Hughes).
p. 399: A couple of chapters of [DonSegundo Sombra]:The next sentence is perhaps not altogether opaque, but both its sense and its humor are clearer if the reader knows the novel in question.DonSegundo Sombradeals with the life ofa gaucho(considerably romanticized by nostalgia) and the customs of life on the pampas. Therefore, Gutreperesees nothing in it for him; indeed, thegauchesconovel was an urban form, a manifesta- tion perhaps of what Marie Antoinette's critics were wont to callnostalgie de la boue,or so "The Gospel According to Mark" would seem to imply. JLB himself makes reference to this "urban nostalgia" in the story t.i.tled "The Duel," above, on p. 384.
p. 404: Qzr:The English reader will not, probably, be able to perceive the fine irony here. Brodie has said that these barbarous people do not have vowels, so he will call them Yahoos. He then gives a few words in their language. Here, the word for "citadel,"qzr, is the Spanish word for citadel,alcazar,with the vowels removed. But the Spanish derives from the Arabic, which does not have vowels; the vowels are some- times marked, sometimes not; thus,qzr is a transliteration of a word that any Spanish speaker would recognize as being fully and legitimately Arabic. Thus the Yahoos are, or might be, Arabs. HereBorges'"traveler's satire" is acute: one can find "barbarism" even in the most refined and advanced of societies.
Notes toThe Book of Sand, pp. 409-486
The Other p. 413: Another Rosas in 1946, much like our kinsman in the first one:The second Rosas, of course, is Juan DomingoPeron,the Fascist military leader who in 1945 was asked to resign all his commissions and retire, and who did so, only (Napoleon-like) to return eight days later to address huge crowds of people and later, in 1946, to be elected president. All this information is from Rodriguez Monegal, who then adds: "he was Argentina's first king" (390-391).
As for "our kinsman," the details are a bit blurry, butBorgesseems to have been related, on his father's side, to Rosas.
Fishburn and Hughes talk about a "relative of Borges's great-great-grandfather."Borgeshated and despised both these men.p. 416: "Whitman is incapable of falsehood":Daniel Balderston believes that he has identified this poem: "When I heard at the close of the day," in Walt Whitman,Com- plete Poetry and Collected Prose,ed. JustinKaplan (New York: Library of America), 1982, pp. 276-277. The essay in which Balderston identifies the poem referred to by the older"Borges"is "The 'Fecal Dialectic': h.o.m.os.e.xual Panic and the Origin of Writing inBorges,"inEntiendes?:Queer Readings, Hispanic Writing,ed. EmilieL. Bergmannand Paul Julian Smith (Durham/London: Duke University Press), 1995, pp. 29-45. While these notes are not intended to add "scholarly" information to the text ofBorges,this remarkable identification, and the reading that accompanies it, in the translator's view warrants mention. The old man/young man motif, the public/private motif, the issue of "s.e.x in theoeuvreofBorges,"readings of a number of im- portant stories, and, to a degree, the issue of violence in the fictions-all of these ques- tions are impacted by Balderston's contentions in this essay.
p. 423: The newspaperUltimaHora:The t.i.tle can be translated in two ways,The Eleventh Hour orThe Latest News, depending on whether one wishes to give it an apocalyptic reading or a quotidian one.
p. 424:Confiteriadel Gas:This pastry shop (see also the note to p. 446,"Cafe aguila,"in the story "The Night of the Gifts" in this volume, for a further explanation of this sort of establishment) is located on Alsina between Bolivar andDefensa,about two blocks from theCasa de Gobierno(or as mostPortenosknow it, theCasa Rosada,or Pink House), at the River Plate end of the avenue that runs from theCasa de Gobi- ernoto the Plaza delCongreso.I have not been able to learn where this cafe's curious name came from, perhaps a gas-company office in the neighborhood; the problem with translating it into something such asCafe Gasis, as the English-language reader will immediately perceive, the hint of indigestion that it (the translation and the name) leaves. Nor is it a truck stop. Clearly, in locating theconfiteriain this neighbor- hood, JLB is attempting to a.s.sociate one "congress" with that of the inst.i.tutionalized government in whose neighborhood it takes up residence.Portenosknow this par- ticularconfiteriaas more of a pastry shop thana cafeperse;we are told that the meringues withcreme de Chantillyare the house specialty.
p. 426: Rancher from the eastern province:Before Uruguay became a country, in 1828, it was a Spanish colony which, because it lay east of the Uruguay River, was called theBandaOriental, or "eastern sh.o.r.e." (The Uruguay meets theParanato create the huge estuary system called theRio de laPlata, or River Plate; Montevideo is on the eastern bank of this river, Buenos Aires on the west.)"La BandaOriental" is an old-fashioned name for the country, then, and "orientales,"or "Easterners," is the equally old-fashioned name for those who live or were born there. Here, the narrator refers to "the eastern province" because for a very long time the shifting status of Uruguay- colony and protectorate of Spain, annex of Brazil and/or Argentina, etc.-led the na- tionalistic elements in Buenos Aires to consider it an "eastern province" of Argentina. Uruguay was founded on cattle raising.
p. 426:Artigas:Jose Gervasio Artigas(1764-1850), Uruguayan, a political and mili- tary leader who opposed first the Spaniards and then the Argentines who wished to keep theBandaOriental (the east bank of the River Plate) in fealty to one or another of those powers. When Argentina, instead of supporting theBandaOriental's independence from Spain, a.s.serted Spain's authority over the area (in part to keep the Brazilians/ Portuguese out),Artigasled a huge exodus of citizens out of Montevideo and "into the wilderness." Recognized as a hero in Uruguay, he might not have been so regarded by a cosmopolite such as Glencoe, especially because of his legendary (but perhaps exagger- ated) bloodthirstiness and his a.s.sociation with "the provinces" rather than "the city."
p. 427:Wops:"Gringo" was the somewhat pejorative term used for immigrant Ital- ians; the closest English equivalent is "wop." As with all such designations, the tone of voice with which it is spoken will determine the level of offense; it can even be affec- tionate if spoken appropriately.
p. 427:CalleJunin:At this time, a street lined with brothels, many of which were relatively tame and in which men might not only solicit the services of prost.i.tutes but also have a drink, talk, and generally be "at their ease."
p. 429: Palace of Running Waters:El Palacio de Aguas Corrientesis a building in central Buenos Aires housing a pumping station and some offices for the water com- pany; it is an extravagantly decorated edifice, its walls covered in elaborate mosaic murals-a building that onePortenodescribed to this translator as "hallucinatory" and "absurd." The official name of this building is the "Grand Gravitational Reposi- tory"; it is, according toBuenos Aires,Ciudad Secreta by GerminalNogues(Buenos Aires: Editorial Ruiz Diaz, 2nded., pp.244-245),located on the block bounded byAvenida Cordobaandcalles Riobamba,Viamonte, and Ayacucho. It is set-or at least was-on one of the highest points of the city. The building of the Palace of Running Waters was begun in 1887, and it is a gigantic jigsaw puzzle designed by the Swedish engineer A. B. Nystromer.
All this architectural effort was invested in a building destined to store 72,700,000 liters of water per day, which was the amount estimated to be needed for the daily consumption of thePortenos. ...
The four walls of this palace ... were capable of withstanding this pressure without support except at the center of each side. Solid b.u.t.tresses were also in- corporated into the design; these were set at intervals between the corner towers and the central towers, both inside and outside-----VicenteBlasco Ibanezsaid of this edifice: "This 'palace' is not a palace. It has arcades and grand doors and windows but it is all a fake. Inside, there are no rooms. Its four imposingfacadesmask the retaining walls of the reservoir inside. The builders tried to beautify it with all this superfluity, so that it would not of- fend the aesthetic of the [city's] central streets."[Trans., A.H.]
p. 430: Thechiripa...the wide-leggedbombacha:These are articles of the dress of thegaucho.Thechiripawas a triangular worsted shawl tied about the waist with the third point pulled up between the legs and looped into the knot to form a rudimen- tary pant or a sort of diaper. It was worn over a pair of pantaloons (ordinarily white) that "stick out"
underneath. Thebombachais a wide-legged pant that was worn gath- ered at the calf or ankle and tucked into the softboots, sometimes made of the hide of a young horse, that thegauchowore. Thebombacharesembles the pant of the Zouave infantryman.
p. 430: Those mournful characters inHernandezor RafaelObligado:Jose Hernan- dez(1834-1886), author ofMartin Fierro,a long semi-epic poem celebrating thegau- choand his life; RafaelObligado(1851-1920), alitterateur who hosted a literary salon and founded theAcademiaArgentina.Obligadowas the author of a very well-known poem dealing with the life ofapayador,or traveling singer, named Santos Vega. While the characters in these poems were portrayed not without defects, their lives and they themselves were to a degree romanticized; as ways of life perse,thegauchoand the payadorwere part of the mythology of Argentina.Borges.e.xamines these ways of life (and the literature that chronicled them) in many of his essays.
p. 430:CalleJujuy near the Plaza del Once:At its northern endCalleJujuy runs di- rectly into the Plaza del Once; on the other (north) side of the Plaza, it has become Puerreydon. Thus, in a sense, it begins at Rivadavia, whereBorges(and apparently all olderPortenos)said "the Southside began." The"Plaza del Once" (p.r.o.nounced6hn-say, notwunce) is generally called "Plaza Once" in Buenos Aires, but the h.o.m.onymy of the English and Spanish words make it advisable, the translator thinks, to slightly modify the name in order to alert the English reader to the Spanish ("eleven"), rather than English ("onetime" or "past"), sense of the word. Plaza Once is one of Buenos Aires' oldest squares, "a.s.sociated in Borges's memory with horse-drawn carts" (Fishburn and Hughes), though later simply a modern square.
p. 431: Lugones'Lunariosentimental:Leopoldo Lugones(1874-1938) was one of Argentina's most famous and influential (and most talented) poets; theLunariosenti- mental isa 1909 book of his poetry.
There Are More Things p. 437: t.u.r.dera:A town south of Buenos Aires, rustic and apparently at this time somewhat uninviting (see the story "The Interloper," p. 348, set there).p. 438: Glew: A town near t.u.r.dera.
The Night of the Gifts p. 446:Cafe aguila,onCalleFlorida near the intersection ofPiedad:Here two things need pointing out: First theCafe aguila,whose name in Spanish is theConfiteriadelaguila,actually existed. Theconfiteriawas the equivalent of a coffeehouse or tearoom, a place for conversation and taking one's time over coffee or tea and pastry (or light food) in the late afternoon and early evening. (One might think of Paris.) Theaguilawas a center for intellectuals and artists, as this sketch clearly suggests. Second is the lo- cation:CalleFlorida (p.r.o.nounced Flor-ee-da) was, and remains, at least near the Plazade Mayo,one of the most exclusive streets in downtown Buenos Aires; this intersection is just one block from that square. Piedad's name was changed toBartolomeMitre in 1906; therefore, this story must take place before that date. If this"Borges,"likeBorgeshimself, was born in 1899, he must have been just a young boy overhearing this conver- sation, and the "we," in that case, must be something of a stretch!
p. 449: JuanMoreira:Agauchoturned outlaw (1819-1874) who was famous dur- ing his lifetime and legendary after death. Like Jesse James and Billy the Kid in the United States, he was seen as a kind of folk hero, handy with weapons (in Moreira's case a knife), and hunted down and killed (as this story shows) by a corrupt police. That does not mean he was not to be feared by all when he was "on a tear," as this story also shows.
p. 449:Podesta'slong hair and black beard:ThePodestafamily were circus actors. In 1884, some ten years after the outlawgaucho JuanMoreira's death, Juande Podestaput on a pantomime version of the life ofMoreira.Podestaand the performances were enormously famous, seen by everyone, and surely colored perceptions of the real-life story ofMoreira,as movies have colored those of Jesse James and Billy the Kid.
A Weary Man's Utopia.
p. 463:Bahia Blanca:A city in Buenos Aires province, south of the city of Buenos Aires; the bay of that name as well. Thus the "future man" has either traveled a bit south or the story itself takes place south of Buenos Aires.
p. 472: The war that was ravaging the country:This story takes place, as its first sentence reminds us, in 1897, but one must go back some four decades in order to understand the situation. Since theBaldeof MonteCaserosin 1852, in which Rosas (whose troops had been occupying Uruguay) had been defeated and with his defeat Uruguay's t.i.tular independence had been won, Uruguay had undergone a series of re- volts, uprisings, and power struggles that left the country reeling. Const.i.tutional de- mocracy was an experiment that seemed destined to fail. As in Argentina, it was the Whites(Blancos)against the Reds(Colorados),though the parties in Uruguay were conceived somewhat differently from those in Argentina; in some ways, and at the worst of times, they were simply banners under which generals vied for power, and al- liances among the generals and among the Southern Cone nations were by nature shifting. Generally speaking, however, theBlancoswere the traditional followers of ManuelOribe;they were conservative, usually Catholic (as opposed to the "free- thinkers" JLB sometimes mentions), and tended to favor the rural areas over the cities; thus the party often was led by provincial, landowningcaudilloswhosegauchofol- lowers made up the largest number of its members. TheColoradoswere the liberal, urban party, whose roots went back to the nineteenth-centurycaudillo FructuosoRivera; this was the "ruling" party in Uruguay for many years, though one president resigned saying the Uruguayans were an ungovernable people, and though the Whites were constantly pressuring the Reds (sometimes by armed uprising) for greater repre- sentation in the government. Just prior to the time of this story, theBlancosandColo- radoshad come to an uneasy truce, and the Cabinet of Conciliation(ministerio de conciliacion) was formed. In 1894 the unlikely (and compromise) Colorado candidate Juan IdiarteBordawas elected president on the forty-seventh ballot, but in 1897 the uneasy alliance broke down; IdiarteBordawas perceived as abusing his power, ofen- gaging in cronyism and neglecting to respect the right of the factions that elected him to enjoy some of the fruits of power, and perhaps even of rigging the upcoming elec- tions. Just at this time theBlancosbegan a revolt in the interior, led by thegaucho caudillo Aparicio Saravia(see below). IdiarteBordaapparently perceived this revolt as directed against himself, but a faction within the Red party perceived it as a power grab against the entire party, which IdiarteBordacould not really be said to represent; the prominent national figureJoseBauleyOrdonez gave a call to arms to this Colo- rado faction, and suddenly IdiarteBordafound himself besieged not only by theBlan- cosbut by a large number of his own party as well. The armed conflicts fought in the interior were marked by what must seem to us today grisly and cold-blooded brutality on the part of all contending sides in the skirmishes and battles that were fought; one history of Uruguay says that by 1897 there was a general reaction and outcry against the wholesale slitting of the throats of "prisoners." See, for instance, the story "The Other Duel" inBrodie's Report, which, though not dealing specifically with this con- flict, shows the "naturalness" of this practice to the conflicts of the time.
p. 472: Battle ofCenos Blancos:In the department of Rivera; white chalk hills, with a creek of the same name at their foot. In 1897 a body of government troops un- der GeneralJose Villarmet insurrectionist Blanco forces led byAparicio Saravia;the "battle" (called that, not "skirmish," because of the ferocity of the fighting rather than the number of troops) was indecisive, but theColoradoscame out marginally ahead. No prisoners were taken.
p.472:AparicioSaravia's gang ofgauchos:Saravia (1856-1904) was, as Fishburn and Hughes tell us, a "landowner andcaudillo,uncultured and politically unsophisti- cated, whose magnetic personality secured him a following among thegauchosof the Interior." Saravia and his troops fought on the Blanco side against the government of Juan IdiarteBorda;Saravia had long battled for the Blanco cause against the en- trenched Colorado governments.
p. 474: [ Traveled] through the bay ofLa Agraciadawhere the Thirty-three came ash.o.r.e, to theHervidero,through ragged mountains, wildernesses, and rivers, through theCerrohe had scaled to the lighthouse, thinking that on the two banks of the River Plate there was not another like it. From theCerroon the bay he traveled once to the peak on the Uruguayan coat of arms:La Agraciadais indeed a bay; the Thirty-three were a band of determined patriots under the leadership of Juan Antonio Lavelleja. Lavelleja, a Uruguayan, was the manager of a meat-salting plant in Buenos Aires when the victory at Ayacucho (1824, liberating Peru from the Spaniards) was announced; he was so in- spired by patriotic zeal that he gathered his "thirty-three" and they crossed the River Plate toLa AgraciadaBay, and several years (and many battles fought by thousands of volunteers) later liberated Uruguay (1829).Herviderowas the place ofArtigas'en- campment when he ruled the five provinces he had "conquered" and put under Uru- guayan rule; this rustic headquarters was on a tableland in the northwest of Uruguay, far from the "capital" city of Montevideo; it showed his "humility" and symbolized his philosophy of government. TheCerrois the conical hill on a spit of land opposite Montevideo; there is a fortress on the top, and a lighthouse, and it is represented in the top right quadrant of the country's coat of arms. All these references are the touch- stones of Uruguayan patriotism;Arredondodreams of country in its most heroic manifestations.
p. 475: Juan IdiarteBorda:Borda(1844-1897) was the president of Uruguay, elected under the conditions explained in note to p. 472, above.
p. 476: The events:The people and events of this story are "true." The realAvelino Arredondowas in fact the a.s.sa.s.sin of the real Juan IdiarteBorda(1897). An Argentine reader would almost certainly not recognize the nameAvelino Arredondo,and a Uruguayan might or might not; that is why there is no note appended to the first ap- pearance of Arredondo's name, in the t.i.tle, as there is, for example, to the immediately recognizable name of the city of Guayaquil in the story of that name in the volumeBrodie's Report. But the year, the historical events, the tracing of the legendary "sites" of Uruguayan history, and various other hints at what is about to occur would cer- tainly have given the reader who hailed from the Southern Cone a sense of familiarity; this story would ring a bell. CertainlyBorgestried, subtly, though surely, to plant the seeds of that feeling. In his "statement,"Arredondoshows that he is of theBaiilefac- tion of the Colorado Party, not the "faction" (made up of cronies) of IdiarteBorda.(See note to p. 472, above.)
The Book of Sand.
p. 483:The street the library's on:Calle Mexico,the site of the National Library, whereBorges wasdirector. The street's name is given in the Spanish-language story as a kind of punch line, but that bang cannot be achieved for the non-Argentine reader by simply naming the street; thus the explicitation.
Notes toShakespeare's Memory, pp. 487-515
August 25,1983 p. 490:Adrogue:In the early years of the century, a town south of Buenos Aires (now simply a suburb or enclave of the city) whereBorgesand his family often spent vacations; a place of great nostalgia forBorges.
The Rose of Paracelsus p.504:De Quincey,Writings,XIII, 345: "Insolent vaunt of Paracelsus, that he would restore the original rose or violet out of the ashes settling from its combus- tion-that isnow rivalled in this modern achievement" ("The Palimpsest of the Hu- man Brain,"SuspiriadeProfundis).The introductory part ofde Quincey'sessay deals with the way modern chemistry had been able to recover the effaced writingunder the latest writing on rolls of parchment or vellum, which were difficult to obtain and therefore reused: "The vellum, from having been the setting of the jewel, has risen at length to be the jewel itself; and the burden of thought, from having given the chief value to the vellum, has now become the chief obstacle to its value; nay, has totally ex- tinguished its value." Though this is the thrust of thebeginning ofdeQuincey's argu- ment and seems to inspire "The Rose of Paracelsus," the latter part of the essay turns to memory. ThisBorgesturns to his own uses in "Shakespeare's Memory," p. 508, per- haps with the idea of unifying the volume of stories thereby. It is perhaps the follow- ing lines fromdeQuincey's essay that inspired the idea in "Shakespeare's Memory": "Chemistry, a witch as potent as the Erictho of Lucan, has exorted by her torments, from the dust and ashes of forgotten centuries, the secrets of a life extinct for the gen- eral eye, but still glowing in the embers....
What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain?... Everlasting layers of ideas, images, feelings have fallen upon your brain softly as light. Each succession has seemed to bury all that went before. And yet, in reality, not one has been extinguished." If only we could fan those embers into fire again...
Shakespeare's Memory p. 512:[DeQuincey's] master Jean Paul:Jean PaulFriedrich Richter(1763-1825, pen name Jean Paul) was early influenced by Sterne. While his writings on literary a.s.s-thetics influenced Carlyle (who translated him) and many others, it was his dream lit- erature that influencedNovalisanddeQuincey.