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This report is taken from PN Review 104, Volume 21 Number 6, July - August 1995.

Twenty Five Years of the Menard Press Alan Wall

Two and a half decades ago a magazine was launched entitled The Joumais of Pierre Menard. Alongside it, to make matters even more confusing, came the Notebooks of Pierre Menard. These comradely ventures ensured that their kairos could never be subjugated to any mere mechanical chronos by resolutely refusing to appear on their respective publication dates. The gnomic titles came from the story in Borges' Ficciones, 'Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote'. This tale recounts how a modern author writes (not re-writes, but writes) word for word whole sections of the Quixote. The texts he thus produces are identical with the original, except in one crucial respect: they are entirely different. For, as Borges points out with characteristic glittering brilliance, by prodUcing such a text not in the picaresque of seventeenth century Spain, but in the age of William James and Julien Benda, all is changed, changed utterly. Every word is weighed down with a fresh significance the years have delivered. The same words under a different aspect of Clio, are not the same words.

Thus did Anthony Rudolf and Peter Hoy launch their publishing enterprise devoted primarily to translation. Either the partnership or the friendship had to give way, and both chose to hold on to the friendship. From the ashes of that first scheme rose the Menard Press in 1971. Astonishingly, twenty-five years and nearly a hundred and twenty titles later, it is still going. To re-translate the words of Samuel Johnson, as Pierre Menard ...


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