Jorge Luis Borges and Maria Kodama.
Before María Kodama met Jorge Luis Borges and was a key figure in the life and work of the Argentine writer, to whom she would dedicate numerous books, stories, texts and poems, she had been shocked when, as a child, she read the Argentine writer for the first time.
What she did not know was that Borges would also be impressed by her years later and that she would be the woman who would inspire him the most. “That intensity is what a nine, ten-year-old girl felt who did not understand anything and that it would be the only work of all her work that I would save,” Kodama was able to tell in an interview with Infobae.
They met in person during an English literature course, then came the chance meeting outside a bookstore on Florida Street when Kodama almost knocked him to the ground, and the meetings at the Richmond confectionery: the talks about Anglo-Saxon literature became routine and their relationship, an obvious consequence.
They never separated: they traveled the world, published two books together and got married in 1986. After the death of the author of El Aleph, she created the foundation to keep his work alive. A relationship full of admiration, love and camaraderie.
This Sunday, with the death of María Kodama, an important chapter in the life and work of Jorge Luis Borges closes. His relationship with Kodama was one of the most intense and complex of his life, and his influence is felt in numerous texts and poems by the Argentine writer.
It may interest you: María Kodama, widow of Jorge Luis Borges and executor of his work, died
What was the first dedication? And the ones that followed? Here, a literary cartography of the traces of love in the form of a dedication in his books:
In “La moneda de hierro” the first dedication of a poem by Borges to María Kodama is read.
The first time that Borges wrote a dedication for Kodama was in the poem “La luna”, included in the book La moneda de hierro, published by Emecé, in 1976. It reads:
To the moon
To Maria Kodama
There is so much loneliness in that gold
The moon at night is not the moon
which the first Adam saw. the long centuries
they have filled it with human vigilance
of old crying Look at her. It is your mirror.
It may interest you: María Kodama died: listen to her reading of the story with which she met Borges
The path of dedications had just begun. A year after La moneda de hierro, Borges published Historia de la noche. From this book Borges inaugurated his own genre, tiny, dedicated to Kodama. In the work of the greatest Argentine writer, not only is the central body important, but also the paratext: the prologues, epilogues and, of course, the dedications. And in that last element, María Kodama was the undisputed protagonist. In History of the night it reads:
Through Venice of glass and twilight. For the one that you will be: for the one that perhaps I will not understand. For all these disparate things, which are perhaps, as Spinoza felt, mere figurations of a single infinite thing, I dedicate this book to you, María Kodama.”
In 1981, in La cifra, Borges wrote: “Of the series of inexplicable facts that are the universe or time, the dedication of a book is certainly not the least arcane. It is defined as a gift, a gift. Except for the indifferent coin that Christian charity drops into the palm of the poor, every true gift is reciprocal. He who gives does not deprive himself of what he gives. Giving and receiving are the same.”
And he continued with the dedication: “Like all acts in the universe, the dedication of a book is a magical act. It could also be defined as the most pleasant and sensitive way of pronouncing a name. I now pronounce her name, Maria Kodama. How many mornings, how many seas, how many gardens of the East and the West, how many Virgils.
It may interest you: The beautiful love poem that Borges did not want to dedicate to María Kodama
One of the best known is Los conjurados, his last collection of poems, published in 1985, a year before his death. The book includes forty-four poems and poetic prose that Borges claims originated in dreams. The poem that gives the book its title prophesies concord and brotherhood among men, perhaps his last wish. And the dedication, once again, to his partner in his life:
“This book belongs to you, María Kodama. Will it be necessary for me to tell you that this inscription includes the twilights, the deer of Nara, the night that is alone and the crowded mornings, the shared islands, the seas, the deserts and the gardens, what is forgotten and what is forgotten? Memory transforms, the muezzin’s loud voice, Hawkwood’s death, books and pictures? (…) In this book are the things that were always his. What a mystery is a dedication, a delivery of symbols!
In Atlas, the travel book with Borges texts and photographs and notes by María Kodama, first published by Emecé in 1984, it reads:
“In the pleasant course of our residence on earth, María Kodama and I have traveled and savored many regions, which suggested many photographs and many texts. (…) María Kodama and I have shared with joy and amazement the discovery of sounds, languages, twilights, cities, gardens and people, always different and unique. These pages would like to be monuments of that long adventure that continues”.
Borges and Kodama on one of their trips.
There is also a very significant text in the Atlas that gives an account of what the couple’s daily life was like. Borges, always so modest, allows himself to show a bit of intimacy: a trip to Europe, a breakfast together, a brioche that becomes an archetype –of love?–. The short text says:
“The Chinese think, some Chinese have thought and continue to think that every new thing on earth projects its archetype in the sky. Someone or Something now has the sword archetype, the table archetype, the Pindaric ode archetype, the syllogism archetype, the hourglass archetype, the clock archetype, the map archetype, the telescope archetype , the archetype of the balance. Spinoza observed that each thing wants to endure in his being; the tiger wants to be a tiger, and the stone, a stone. I, personally, have observed that there is nothing that does not tend to be the archetype of him and sometimes it is. It is enough to be in love to think that the other, or the other, is already your archetype. Maria Kodama bought this great brioche at the Aux Brioche de la Lune bakery and told me, when she brought it to the hotel, that it was the Archetype. I immediately understood that he was right. The reader looks at the image and judges.”
In an interview with Infobae, Kodama was able to talk about what Borges thought about his love: “It’s very funny because he always told me that we, surely, in all possible ways after the game, the most logical, with that it means that we already I did not believe, it was reincarnation. And that surely we came from several reincarnations, so he told me to promise him that we would meet again in the next one ”.
Kodama continued with the moving story: “Yes, yes, sure Borges, we meet again. Now you know that I am wildly honest. In the next one, I’m a scientist.” And he closed his desperate eyes and told me: “Don’t tell me that.” Because he would be a writer again. “Then we won’t meet again.” “Yes, Borges. They say that in infinity the parallels come together, so we will meet together with that god, energy, first force, light, whatever we want to call it. Don’t worry”.
In the books, in the words, in the endless dedications, Borges and Kodama continue to be intertwined, reincarnating over and over again.
María Kodama, widow of Jorge Luis Borges and executor of his work, died María Kodama died: listen to her reading of the story with which she met BorgesWho is María Kodama? The beautiful love poem that Borges did not want to dedicate to María Kodama
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