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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, October 20, 2007

borges on the cheshire cat

I think I've mentioned before my fondness for Borges' writing.

Though it's highly conceptual and abstract more often than not, it's also marked by his essential benevolence and even-keeledness. You can see this in the unsensational take he brings to the Cheshire and Kilkenny Cats:
Everyone has heard the expression "to grin like a Cheshire cat."
Several explanations for this saying have been proposed. One is that
cheese in the shape of a laughing cat was sold in Cheshire. Another would
have it that Cheshire was made an earldom, and that this provoked the hilarity
of the county's cats. Still another claims that in the times of Richard
III there was a sheriff, one Caterling, who smiled ferociously when he caught
poachers at their work.
In the dreamlike novel Alice in Wonderland, published in 1865, Lewis
Carroll gave the Cheshire Cat the ability to disappear gradually, until only its
smile was left.
It is said of the Kilkenny Cats that they got into furious fights and
devoured each other, leaving only their tails. This story dates from the
eighteenth century.

from Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings, Andrew Hurley, trans. (New York: Viking Books, 2005), p. 42.

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