Ireneo Funes, subject of the fictional memoir
Funes el memorioso
Jorge Luis Borges
. Published in 1944 in
, the second part of the book Ficciones
Several English versions of this story are readily available:
Funes, the Memorious, translated by James E. Irby, in
Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings,
New Directions, 1964, ISBN 0-08112-0012-4, and
Funes, His Memory, translated by Andrew Hurley, in
Jorge Luis Borges: Collected Fictions, Viking, 1998,
Funes practices the art of memory involuntarily, ever since he was paralyzed by a fall from
a half-broken horse. He can call up
eidetic images from his past, even of experiences from before
his fall. He has assigned unique names to all the integers up to 24,000.
Borges explains to him that this inability to abstract or generalize makes it
impossible to do arithmetic, or indeed to think at all, but Funes cannot or will not understand.
Funes quotes a passage from Pliny the Elder to Borges:
ut nihil non iisdem verbis redderetur auditum. This comes from
Naturalis Historia, Book VII, Chapter 24, on memory.
The full passage is
ars postremo eius rei facta
et inventa est a Simonide melico,
ut nihil non iisdem verbis redderetur auditum, which means
that an art of memory was devised by the poet Simonides and perfected by
Metrodorus of Scepsis, so that nothing heard is not repeated in the same words
(H. Rackham's translation in the Loeb Classical Library version is better, but
The passage from Pliny discusses several cases where memory was impaired by
an injury, but none where it was enhanced.
In his preface to
Borges says that this story is
"one long metaphor for insomnia".
Can somebody find or make an English translation of
Roxana Kreimer's intriguingly titled article
Nietzsche, autor de "Funes el memorioso":
Crítica al saber residual de la modernidad?