Sunday, July 1, 2018

Como dice Borges

Yes, as The New Republic says, Jorge Luis Borges hated soccer and its fan culture. But did Borges say or write these words?

El nacionalismo sólo permite afirmaciones y, toda doctrina que descarte la duda, la negación, es una forma de fanatismo y estupidez.

[Nationalism only allows for affirmations, and every doctrine that discards doubt, negation, is a form of fanaticism and stupidity.]
The New Republic piece on Borges and soccer includes the sentence in English, with a link to a source with the Spanish sentence. But TNR’s source gives no source for Borges’s words. Here’s a page that cites a 1994 issue of the periodical Tendencias. But look at what’s there:

[Google Books shows this periodical only in snippet view. But some searching and pasting makes the passage available.]
“Como dice (Jorge Luis) Borges”: as Borges says, followed by a statement not enclosed in quotation marks, and slightly different from the above: “En el nacionalismo sólo se permiten afirmaciones, y toda doctrina que descarte la duda, la negación, es una forma de fanatismo y de estupidez.”
My translation: “As Borges says, In nationalism only affirmations are allowed, and any doctrine that discards doubt, negation, is a form of fanaticism and stupidity.”

And notice the guillemet (») at the end? Striking as this statement about nationalism may be, it’s a paraphrase of Borges’s attitude, not something Borges said or wrote. The more closely I look at the sentence, the more I suspect that perhaps only the first main clause is to be attributed to Borges: “As Borges says,” &c., and [let me add that] “any doctrine,” &c.

I finally found the source for this statement about nationalism by searching for “Quiero ser una persona internacional” [I want to be an international person]. The source is a 1994 interview with Mario Vargas Llosa. Here it is, in Spanish and in Google Translate’s English. The source for what Borges is said to have said is something I’d still like to discover.

More words for our times from this interview: “El nacionalismo es la negación de lo extranjero, y eso me parece una fuente de violencia.” [Nationalism is the negation of the foreign, and that seems to me a source of violence.]

Related reading
All OCA Borges posts (Pinboard)

[Nacionalismo, even in a paraphrase, seems to mean more than nationalism: in Borges: A Life (2004), Edward Williamson contrasts nacionalismo (“right-wing nationalism”) with Borges’s criollismo.]

comments: 2

Frex said...

Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Michael Leddy said...

¡De nada!