Argentina's crazy copyright laws provide for prison sentences for "intellectual property fraud" — in this case, rewriting a Borges short story in Borgesian fashion and publishing it in a super-limited underground press edition of 300.
Maria Kodama has been suing Argentine writer Pablo Katchadjian since 2011 over his 2009 exerimental book "El Aleph engordado," which interleaved Borges's short story "The Alef" with his own work, more than doubling its length. More recently, Kodama swore out an "intellectual property fraud" complaint against Katchadjian, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison.
Borges's own work was filled with remixes, imaginary quotes from real works and people, and lionized imaginary writers who remixed great literary classics.
It is tempting to ask oneself what Borges would have done with The Fattened Aleph. He was renowned not only for his rather reactionary politics but also for his sharp sense of humour. I find it hard to believe that he would have taken Katchadjian to court over an experimental book. Perhaps he would have just sneered – as he did in one of his perhaps apocryphal anecdotes – that this "century has been very mediocre", hence the need for canonised masters that we can mash-up to the point of exhaustion.
The Fattened Aleph might be a facile attempt at recycling a canonised narrative, or it might be a work of art. This is something worth debating, but surely not in the courts of justice.
Re-working Borges is a legitimate experiment, not a crime [Fernando Sdrigotti/The Guardian]
(Thanks, Brian Zimmerman!)
(Image: Busto de Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Sozzi, CC-BY-SA)