There is no intellectual feat which can be considered anything but useless, according to Jorge Luis Borges in “Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote”. This affirmation is, however, challenged all throughout the author’s short story, which tells of a man who set out to become the author of the Quixote, centuries after Cervantes’ (in)famous novel appeared. Menard writes the Quixote word for word, exactly as Cervantes had done in his time, diligently copying the beloved classic – but for what purpose? One of the ideas that we as readers can gather from this text is that no two pieces of are identical, no stories, no novels, no poems, even if they are, in fact, literally identical. That is to say, context has much to do with the way a reader approaches a literary work and Menard exemplifies this to the extreme. Borges writes the same quote twice in the story, citing Cervantes and Menard as authors of said sentence, and goes on to describe the differences in each one (inexistent to any reader’s first approach, surprisingly blatant upon reconsideration).
Translators are faced with the task of recreating the original author’s work, often times a difficult feat. Obviously, in these cases, no two written works will be identical due to the language differences. However, Borges’ short story exemplifies how two texts can be seemingly alike but filled with discrepancies that enrich the experience of reading the finished product. The irony in Borges’ story lays in the author’s mentioning how much richer Menard’s Quixote is (despite it being a word-for-word recreation). Borges is a master of irony, double meanings, layers upon layers of signifiers within his texts, and can thus represent a very useful model for translators trying to douse their work with new meaning, all the while remaining loyal to the original.
There are, of course, translations from Spanish into English (and very many other languages) of the Argentine author’s short story.

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