Este estudio – en inglés y parte de una tesis – es sobre el azaroso y rocambolesco devenir de un otrora inédito artículo de Jorge Luis Borges «Exámenes de Metáforas»
y su entrelazamiento con la mecánica cuántica, como tanto en la obra
del escritor argentino.
Myriam M. Mercader
We could cite many examples of similarities between Borges’ work and Science or specifically Quantum Mechanics and Parallel Worlds Theory, though reality once more has overruled literature in the case I will immediately discuss below.
I have recently come across an old newspaper article in ABC Madrid Cultural, 25-09-92, where Eduardo García de Enterría in ‘Peregrinación de un Manuscrito’ explains why he decided to publish a then unedited article by Borges, ’Examen de metáforas.’ As I did not recall any data on the fact, I immediately decided to research on the matter. It is then and there that the many parallel universes of Borges’ started to appear or be created in the course of my research.
First, in the mentioned article in ‘Peregrinación de un Manuscrito,’ García de Enterría justifies the novelty of Borges’ essay on the metaphor studying two previous articles by Borges. The first (with the same name) had been pubished in Alfar, (1924) and then in Inquisiciones (1925, 65-73)); the second in Cosmópolis (1921) with the name ‘La Metáfora.’ After comparing them, Enterría comes to the conclusion they are substantially different from the manuscript he is publishing in ABC because the text in Cosmópolis was cited in Rodriguez Monegal’s Borges. Una biografía literaria (1987) as “predicando lo que sus nuevos poemas predicaban,” and: “en el texto que ahora se publica hay todo un párrafo explícitamente condenatorio a esa “secta contemporánea de versificadores” a que él pertenecía en 1921” (ABC, 15). Furthermore, Enterría explains that, when authorizing the recompilation of his completed works, Borges decided to keep his three first books of essays off print (Inquisiciones (1925), El Tamaño de mi Esperanza (1926) and El Idioma de los Argentinos, 1928) because he rejected most of what he had there written. Moreover, we read in ABC that: “cotejados uno y otro texto, carecen de cualquier relación directa y apenas un mismo número de los ejemplos de metáforas estudiados son los mismos” (15). Therefore, García de Enterría decides this lost manuscript was an enirely new essay with:” la fluidez, la gracia y la eficacia sorprendente de su prosa, la agudeza de sus análisis, todo lo que ha hecho su gloria literaria están aquí plenamente presente” (15).
Second, in ‘Borges: “Examen de metáforas,” edición crítica y anotada’ (2005), Carlos García analyzes the same article in ABC and concludes that Enterría was wrong when he argued that it was a different version which nothing had to do with Inquisiciones. Contrarily, Carlos García states that its precursor (so to say) was a previous article which appeared in Cosmópolis (1921) with the title: ‘La Metáfora:’
A pesar de la identidad de títulos, que suscita o favorece la confusión, no es ese trabajo de Alfar / Inquisiciones, como quiere Enterría, la fuente del que se reproduce y comenta a continuación. El artículo en cuestión se remonta, como se verá, a «Apuntaciones críticas: La me-táfora» (Cosmópolis 35, Madrid, noviembre de 1921, 395-402; TR 114-120), al cual, sin embargo, corrige de manera decisiva. (200)
I find this last quotation very clarifying concerning García’s confusion, as we have quoted Enterría when he states than none of the articles had direct relation with the one he was then publishing in ABC.
Third, I found the article in Cosmópolis,‘ La Metáfora’ (which García connects with the one in ABC) published in Jorge Luis Borges Textos Recobrados 1919-1929, but with an annotation that Borges had written another two similar articles on the matter: the one in Inquisiciones, which both Enterría and García had mentioned and which was first published in Alfar in 1924 and another one, paradoxically entitled: ‘Otra vez la metáfora’ (a new one this time) which appeared in the third excluded book by Borges: El Idioma de los Argentinos, in 1928.
Finally, I should add here that Carlos García, though confused on Enterría’s belief, has very thoroughly come to the conclusion the manuscript had been written by Borges at the end of 1923:
El manuscrito representa, pues, un estadio intermedio, surgido entre octubre de 1923 y marzo de 1924 (me inclino por fines de 1923); es decir, fue redactado entre Ginebra y Madrid, seguramente con intención de publicarlo en la Península (200)
After some confusing couple of hours going back and forth in all the above mentioned books (as well as in various other related articles), I realized I was confronting the creation of parallel worlds in Borges, where different versions of the article about the metaphor were instantly appearing. Up to the moment, not three versions (as all of the critics mentioned above had come to sum up, though each of them considering different series) but four, namely, the first in Cosmópolis (1921), the second written in the late 1923, as concluded García and published in ABC in 2005, the third in Allfar, in 1924 and published in Inquisiciones in 1925, and the fourth in El Idioma de los Argentinos in 1928. I was tempted to find a copy of the latter, which I did not have at hand, and continue the research, but I decided not to. I left the research, confident that if I continued more articles of the sort would appear or would be created on my way. Instead, it was more interesting to include all the output of the previous hours of research in this dissertation as an example of what it is being argued about the parallelism of Borges’ work and Quantum Mechanics.