Extraordinary Tales of Authenticity and Pseudotranslations. Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares’s Cuentos

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Rebecca DeWald

Abstract

In 1953, the Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares published the anthology Cuentos breves y extraordinarios consisting of short stories from a variety of time periods, linguistic and geographical backgrounds. Cuentos breves contains a number of texts with “false attributions”, some of which appear to have been written in Spanish, others name authors with a different mother tongue and therefore constitute pseudotranslations. The stories, in particular “Un mito de Alejandro”, exemplify the way in which the reception of a pseudotranslation changes from the time of publication to the moment the true nature of the text is discovered. In this article, I argue that the mere existence of a pseudotranslation turns every text into an unreliable construct, as it creates uncertainty over what an original is and where it ends, and thereby forges bonds and alliances with every text. I furthermore show that this discovery affects the hierarchy between the reception of an original text and of a translation more generally.

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