Description: BORGES, Jorge Luis. Holograph Manuscript of an Essay / Short Story Entitled "El desafío." 1952.
Three octavo sheets, the last two having been cut off to two thirds of the original size, written on one side.
Published originally in La Nación, on Dec. 28, 1952, and later added to the 1974 edition of Evaristo Carriego (1930).
Location of Origin: Europe
Primary Classification: Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Manuscripts : Manuscript Pages
Expertise: Holograph manuscript of this short story disguised as an essay, as it is often the case with Borges. The subject is a duel, "desafío," which brings Borges back to one of his preferred Pampa / Gaucho subjects: the bravado that makes the gaucho put his life on the line in questions of honor. As Borges explains, he's dealt with this particular story before. It was "Leyenda policial," at the onset, and then it becamen "Hombres pelearon," which gave way for the last version before this one, "Hombre de la esquina rosada." A now older Borges frames the story between two paragraphs which we could call a 'prologue' and a 'conclusion.' He claims to be retelling the story this time "without the addition of metaphors or landscapes," but just as he heard it. The story, the characters, the location, are all far removed from any remote sign of intellectual life; neither of the duelers can even read, and yet Borges manages to adorn their plight with quotations from and references to Montaigne, Hemingway, Moby Dick, Dante, and the Nordic Sagas. He compares this duel to other duels in Gaucho literature, and concludes that they are very dissimilar, and yet have a very important point in common: the provocateur always loses. The moral, (and here he compares him with the Ulysses in the XXVI canto of Inferno, and "that other sentenced captain of Moby Dick,") is that they are the authors of their own demise. Uncharacteristically, not signed by Borges at the close.