Introduction & Overview of Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote

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Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote Summary & Study Guide Description

Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote by Jorge Luis Borges.

The Oxford Book of Latin American Essays (1997) calls "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" "the most influential essay ever written in Latin America." Typical of Borges' style, the work does not fall neatly into the genre of narrative story or of essay— it is a fictional essay. Borges wrote it to test his mind after recovering from a head injury that gave him hallucinations and was complicated by a dangerous case of septicemia. In the form of a scholarly article, it tells of one Pierre Menard, a French symbolist recently deceased, who had undertaken the absurd task of rewriting Cervantes' Don Quixote as a product of his own creativity. Menard wanted his version to "coincide with" the original—word for word. The narrator applauds and legitimizes the act as academic heroism. Because of Borges' erudite reputation, the publication of this story sent scholars scrambling to discover the obscure author from Nimes, Pierre Menard. They unearthed a minor essayist, with a forgettable published essay on the psychological analysis of handwriting. The narrator of the Borges story, himself a fussy pedagogue, explains that Menard succeeded in indoctrinating himself so thoroughly in Cervantes' culture, thoughts, and language that the finished portions of his Quixote exactly match the Cervantes text. Furthermore, the narrator calls Menard's achievement "infinitely richer" than that of Cervantes, due to its modern philosophical perspective and the obstacles Menard overcame to produce it. The narrator means that the modern context imbues the same words with differ ent meanings, presaging postmodernism readerresponse theories. As Donald Yates points out in his introduction to a collection of Borges' fiction, "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" "quite subtly anticipated critical literary theory that would emerge a quarter of a century later." The story would be included in Ficciones (1944), a widely translated collection and the first Latin American work to achieve international acclaim.

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This section contains 309 words
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Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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