Mis anotaciones: “Historia de Rosendo Juárez” un cuento de 1970 de Jorge Luis Borges


This post is bilingual, scroll down to find the English language version

Editorial Bruguera, 1980. Col. Narradores de hoy. Formato: Rústica. Jorge Luis Borges Prosa Completa. Volumen 2. 546 páginas [385 – 390] ISBN (Tomo II): 84-02-06747-6. Publicado en 1970 en el volumen El informe de Brodie. 

jorge-luis-borges-prosa-completa-2-volumenes-D_NQ_NP_854201-MLM20290777507_042015-FPrimer párrafo: Serían las once de la noche, yo había entrado en el almacén, que ahora es un bar, en Bolívar y Venezuela. Desde un rincón el hombre me chistó. Algo de autoritario habría en él, porque le hice caso en seguida. Estaba sentado ante una de las mesitas; sentí de un modo inexplicable que hacía mucho tiempo que no se había movido de ahí, ante su copita vacía. No era ni bajo ni alto; parecía un artesano decente, quizá un antiguo hombre de campo. El bigote ralo era gris. Aprensivo a la manera de los porteños, no se había quitado la chalina. Me invitó a que tomara algo con él. Me senté y charlamos. Todo esto sucedió hacia mil novecientos treinta y tantos.

Argumento: El cuento “Historia de Rosendo Juárez” aparece recogido en el libro del autor argentino Jorge Luis Borges llamado El Informe de Brodie, publicado en el año 1970. Este libro consta de once cuentos, cuyas tramas no son similares entre sí, que se basan principalmente en temas relacionados con el destino y la ética. La “Historia de Rosendo Juárez” empieza cuando una noche dos personas se encuentran en un bar que antiguamente había sido un almacén. Parece ser que uno de los hombres era el propio Borges y el otro era un señor mayor. El personaje, que estaba en el bar, le dice al escritor que no se conocían directamente hasta aquel preciso momento. Ellos solo se conocían de mentas (“fama, prestigio, reputación”) y el anciano le hace saber que es el propio Rosendo Juárez. El interés que tiene este último de dicho encuentro es que éste quiere aclarar y contar la verdad sobre unos acontecimientos ocurridos una noche hace unos treinta años en un quilombo (“bar de alterne”). Rosendo sabe que J.L. Borges escribió un cuento sobre lo que ocurrió y quiere que vuelva a reescribir la historia verdadera.

Siga leyendo en “El lunfardo en la literatura porteña: Roberto Arlt y Jorge Luis Borges”, PDF en Internet de autor desconocido.

Mi opinión: Unos treinta y cinco años después de la publicación de la versión final de“Hombre de la esquina rosada”, Borges volvió a utilizar la misma historia en un cuento muy breve titulado “Historia de Rosendo Juarez”, publicado en 1970 dentro de la colección El informe de Brodie. A decir verdad, en realidad es un epílogo de la primera historia. El protagonista del primer relato le cuenta a Borges, el auto, su propia versión de los hechos:

“Usted no me conoce más que de mentas, pero usted me es conocido, señor. Soy Rosendo Juárez. El finado Paredes le habrá hablado de mí. El viejo tenía sus cosas; le gustaba mentir, no para engañar, sino para divertir a la gente. Ahora que no tenemos nada que hacer, le voy a contar lo que de veras ocurrió aquella noche. La noche que lo mataron al Corralero. Usted, señor, ha puesto el sucedido en una novela, que yo no estoy capacitado para apreciar, pero quiero que sepa la verdad sobre esos infundios.”

No sé qué le llevó a Borges a escribir sobre la misma historia, especialmente si el propio autor reconoció que “Hombre de la esquina rosada” era una mala historia. (Fuente: Wikipedia). Pero, en mi opinión, la narración encaja perfectamente en el universo borgiano. Simplemente necesitamos recordar aquí “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan”. Borges, como Ts’ui Pen, no creía en un tiempo uniforme, absoluto. Creía en infinitas series de tiempos, en una red creciente y vertiginosa de tiempos divergentes, convergentes y paralelos. En consecuencia, las discrepancias en las dos historias son solo una consecuencia de las múltiples variaciones que podemos encontrar en una misma historia.

¿Quién mató verdaderamiente al Corralero?

Texto original

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Jorge Luis Borges (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 24 de agosto de 1899 – Ginebra, Suiza, 14 de junio 1986), fue un poeta, ensayista y escritor argentino de cuentos cuyos trabajos se han convertido en clásicos de la literatura mundial del siglo XX. Después de 1961, cuando compartió junto con Samuel Beckett el Premio Formentor, los cuentos y poemas de Borges empezaron a ser reconocidos en todo el mundo. Hasta ese momento, Borges era poco conocido, incluso en su Buenos Aires natal. A su muerte, el mundo de pesadilla de sus “ficciones” se había comparado con el mundo de Franz Kafka y había sido elogiado por condensar el lenguaje común en su forma más permanente. Por su trabajo, la literatura latinoamericana pasó del ámbito académico al terreno de los lectores generalmente educados. Entre sus incursiones en el campo de la ficción policial se pueden mencionar, además deHombre de la esquina rosada”,  “La muerte y la brújula” y “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan”, la novela corta Seis problemas para don Isidro Parodi, escrita junto con Adolfo Bioy Casares.

The Story from Rosendo Juárez by Jorge Luis Borges

Opening paragraph: It was about eleven o’clock one night; I had gone into the old-fashioned general-store-and bar, which is now simply a bar, on the corner of Bolivar and Venezuela. As I went in, I noticed that over in a corner, sitting at one of the little tables, was a man I had never seen before. He hissed to catch my eye and motioned me to come over. He must have looked like a man that one didn’t want to cross, because I went at once toward his table. I felt, inexplicably, that he had been sitting there for some time, in that chair, before that empty glass. He was neither tall nor short; he looked like an honest craftsman, or perhaps an old-fashioned country fellow. His sparse mustache was grizzled. A bit stiff, as Porteños tend to be, he had not taken off his neck scarf. He offered to buy me a drink; I sat down and we chatted. All this happened in nineteen-thirtysomething. (Translated by Andrew Hurley)

“Rosendo’s Tale” (aka “The Story from Rosendo Juárez”) by Jorge Luis Borges

Opening paragraph: It was about eleven o’clock at night; I had entered the old grocery store-bar (which today is just a plain bar) at the comer of Bolívar and Venezuela. From off on one side, a man signaled me with a “psst.” There must have been something forceful in his manner because I heeded him at once. He was seated at one of the small tables in front of an empty glass, and I somehow felt he had been sitting there for a long time. Neither short nor tall, he had the appearance of a common workingman or maybe an old farmhand. His thin moustache was graying. Fearful of his health, like most people in Buenos Aires, he had not taken off the scarf that draped his shoulders. He asked me to have a drink with him. I sat down and we chatted. All this took place sometime back in the early thirties. This is what the man told me. (Translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni)

Storyline: The short story “Rosendo’s Tale”, is included in the book by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges called Doctor Brodie’s Report, published in 1970. This book contains eleven short stories, whose plots are not similar to each other, that are based mainly on issues related to destiny and ethics. “Rosendo’s Tale” begins when one night two people meet in a bar that had once been a warehouse. It seems that one of the men was Borges himself and the other was an older man. The character, that was at the bar, tells the writer that they didn’t know each other directly until that precise moment. They only knew each other by mentas (“fame, prestige, reputation”) and the old man lets him know that he is Rosendo Juarez himself. The latter’s interest in this meeting is that he wants to clarify and tell the truth about some events that happened one night some thirty years ago in a quilombo (“a brothel”). Rosendo knows that J.L. Borges wrote a story about what happened and wants he to rewrite the true story.

Read more at “El lunfardo en la literatura porteña: Roberto Arlt y Jorge Luis Borges” on line PDF in Spanish by an unknown author.

My take: Some thirty-five years after the final version of “Streetcorner Man” was published, Borges used again the same story in a very brief tale titled “Rosendo’s Tale”, published in 1970 within the collection Doctor Brodie’s Report. To tell the truth, it is actually an epilogue of the first story. 

The main character of the first account tells Borges, the author, his own version of the facts:

“You’ve heard of me, sir, though we’ve never met,” the man began, “but I know you. My name is Rosendo Juárez. It was Nicolás Paredes, no doubt, God rest his soul, that told you about me. That old man was something. I’ll tell you—the stories he’d tell… Not so as to fool anyone, of course—just to be entertaining. But since you and I are here with nothing else on our hands just now, I’d like to tell you what really happened that night… the night the Yardmaster was murdered. You’ve put the story in a novel, sir— and I’m hardly qualified to judge that novel—but I want you to know the truth behind the lies you wrote.”  (Translation by Andrew Hurley)

“You don’t know me except by reputation, but I know who you are. I’m Rosendo Juárez. The late Paredes must have told you about me. The old man could pull the wool over people’s eyes and liked to stretch a point—not to cheat anybody, mind you, but just in fun. Well, seeing you and I have nothing better to do, I’m going to tell you exactly what happened that night, the night the Butcher got killed. You put all that down in a storybook, which I’m not equipped to pass judgment on, but I want you to know the truth about all that trumped-up stuff.” (Translation by Norman Thomas di Giovanni)

I don’t know what led Borges to write about the same story, especially if the author himself recognised that “Man in Pink Corner” was a bad tale. (Source: Wikipedia). But in my view, the narration fits perfectly well within Borges’ universe. We simply need to remember here “The Garden Of Forking Paths”. Borges, as Ts’ui Pen, doesn’t conceive time as absolute and uniform. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever spreading network of diverging, converging and parallel times. Accordingly, the discrepancies in the two stories are just a consequence of the multiple variations we can find in a same story.

Who actually killed the Butcher?

Read the full text at Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley here.

Read the full text at Doctors Brodie’s Report by Jorge Luis Borges, translated byNorman Thomas di Giovanni here.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the Author: Jorge Luis Borges (Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 24, 1899 – Geneva, Switzerland, June 14, 1986), was an Argentine poet, essayist and short-story writer whose works have become classics of 20th century world literature. After 1961, when he and Samuel Beckett shared the Formentor Prize, the stories and poems of Borges began to be increasingly acclaimed all over the world. Until then, Borges was little known, even in his native Buenos Aires. By the time of his death, the nightmare world of his “fictions” had come to be compared to the world of Franz Kafka and to be praised for condensing the common language into its most enduring form. Through his work, Latin American literature emerged from the academic realm into the field of generally educated readers. Among his incursions in the field of detective fiction it can be mentioned, besides “Man on Pink Corner”, “Death and the Compass” andThe Garden Of Forking Paths”, the novella Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi, written together with Adolfo Bioy Casares.

14 thoughts on “Mis anotaciones: “Historia de Rosendo Juárez” un cuento de 1970 de Jorge Luis Borges

  1. Andrew Hurley’s translations are Awful. If you can, find nearly any other translation, and I’m partial to the Borges/Di Giovanni translations that Borges worked on directly, but which were put out of print due to the sense by Borges’s estate that Di Giovanni received an unfair share of the payment for them.

    Since Borge presumably approved the English translation titles of his stories, I tend to think of this one as “Rosendo’s Tale” (vs. Hurley’s clumsy attempt at literal translation) and “El hombre de las esquinas rosadas” as “Streetcorner Man”…

    1. You’re absolutely right, Todd. My apologise for those translations. I wasn’t aware there were much better translations. I only used the versions aesily available in the Internet. I was too lazy for not having translated It myself. But to translate the Lunfardo slang is quite a challengue. Your point is well taken. Sorry again

Leave a Reply to Jose Ignacio Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.