New story by Salar Abdoh in “Fiction”

Salar Abdoh story in "Fiction" Borges-Averroes

AT THE END OF A STORY he wrote about the greatest medieval commentator of Aristotle, Borges noted: The instant I stop believing in him, Averroes disappears.

As Borges observed, Averroes, who knew everything, could not understand one thing, and that was theater. And so it happened that when he came upon Aristotle’s Poetics, the Arab Spaniard was utterly stumped. What had Aristotle meant by the terms “tragedy” and “comedy”? Averroes did not know. Nothing in the world he’d studied so painstakingly had prepared him for the notion of drama.

But had I known the Argentine writer at the time, I would have told him about Radwa of Cordoba. Why her? Because, through half-legible Mozarab documents whose like were once used as goat fodder, it has come down to us that Radwa somehow ended up in the Toledo of the 1190’s. There she joined the great translation movement of the city that brought the wisdom of the ancient Greeks to Europe. I would have told Borges about the day, many years later, when Radwa recalled how only one time Averroes came to her door. An old man by then, about to be banished from Spain, he’d told her that there was some unfinished business to which he must attend.

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