In "El Aleph", Borges states that upon visiting Beatriz parents:

No estaría obligado, como otras veces, a justificar mi presencia con módicas ofrendas de libros: libros cuyas páginas, finalmente, aprendí a cortar, para no comprobar, meses después, que estaban intactos.

Which has been translated as:

I would not be forced, as in the past, to justify my presence with modest offerings of books — books whose pages I finally learned to cut beforehand, so as not to find out, months later, that they lay around unopened.

Am I the only one who finds this utterly confusing? Did he open the books months later or not?

  • 1
    asides from the correct answer, it's useful to know that the last word, "intactos" could have perhaps been better translated as "untouched", thus avoiding some of the confusion. May 11 '17 at 15:50
  • Indeed the translation is unnecesarily imprecise, if not wrong. (You can open a book with the pages uncut. You just can't read the pages facing in.)
    – pablodf76
    May 11 '17 at 22:57

In those days books had pages which had not been cut from their original format. If he gave someone a book with uncut pages and then, months later, found the pages still uncut he would know they had never read it. To avoid this disappointment he learned to cut the pages before giving them the books. So it is not Borges who did not open them months later but the people to whom he gave them.

The whole process of printing the larger sheets is called imposition in English and imposición as this wikepedia article shows with a helpful diagram of how to do it.

  • I have very occasionally had the experience of reading a book where all but a small number of the pages had been cut. I wonder if that was the case here, or if the reader was responsible for cutting all the pages? May 12 '17 at 3:14

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