That is probably the first question you’re asking yourself, among others. Who is Pierre Menard? Who is that guy on the left? Who is that guy on the right? AND WHY IS THE ONE RING IN THE MIDDLE?
Contrary to the name of this blog, I am not Pierre Menard. My name is David. I look like this:
Great. That’s out of the way.
But, Pierre Menard. First, let’s start with that guy on the right. Meet Jorge Luis Borges, Argentinian writer. Known for his short stories, Borges played with reality, dreams, labyrinths, and other mysterious and confusing themes in his writing. No, he did not write Inception. Moving along.
Borges wrote a short story entitled “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote“. It isn’t really a story, but a fake book review of this small-time author’s recreation of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. His goal is not to write a new Quixote, nor simply copy it word for word, but to write it, as Cervantes had done. Borges’ narrator, in reviewing the new Quixote, finds it more illuminating and interesting than the original, even though it literally is the exact same thing. The story concerns authorship. Can a different author write the same novel centuries later and write it better than the first? The reviewer thinks so, and undoubtedly Menard, who has died, learned something from his process.
So, the guy on the left. That is J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, the author of The Lord of the Rings. And now the One Ring should make sense.
So what is happening here? What do I mean by “Your Daily Borgesian Tolkien”? I was recently given the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Lord of the Rings.
Being a huge fan of the novel, and having always been interested in Tolkien’s writing, I am going to use the technique of Pierre Menard. The task is this:
Each and every day, I will transcribe a page from The Lord of the Rings.
However, as we all know, one does not simply walk into Mordor. The story (following the Prologue) begins on page 21, and ends on page 1031. Granted, while some of these may be skipped over if they are the title pages of each individual book, (The three parts – Fellowship, Two Towers, and Return of the King, are each split into two “books”, making six in all.) that still makes just under 1010 pages, and thus, 1010 days. This will take a while.
The blog, though, is not for the posting of these pages day after day. I don’t want to get sued. I’m here to talk about it, both my experience, and the book itself. Essentially, this is a close reading of The Lord of the Rings, one page at a time. There will be fun facts, interesting things to note, comparisons and contrasts we can draw to the movies, etc. There’s a whole lot in there, and I’m going to find it.
Side note: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. If you don’t know what happens in The Lord of the Rings, 1) You probably shouldn’t be reading this blog, and 2) How and why have you stayed reading it for this long?
I’m about to dive into one of the forerunners in the fantasy genre, a massive pop culture icon, and the source for three (soon to be four?) of the greatest movies of our generation. I’ll try to keep this entertaining and insightful, and we’ll see what happens. You can imagine me with french mustache and a beret if you’d like…
Because starting tomorrow, I am Pierre Menard.