Handwritten in Spanish, the card is addressed from famed Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges and it appears to carry his signature and a cartoon doodle.SUPPLIED BY AGINCOURT DISTRICT LIBRARIES BLOG
Mystery shrouds an old greeting card tucked away in a dog-eared copy of Plato’s Republic that belongs to Toronto’s Agincourt District Library.
Handwritten in Spanish, the card is addressed from famed Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges and it appears to carry his signature and a cartoon doodle. Borges’ works, including short story collection Ficciones, are considered literary classics. He died in 1986.
Librarian Louis Choquette discovered the card while flipping through the pages of a battered Plato book, he wrote in a Feb. 15 post for the Agincourt District Libraries blog. “I’m still in shock,” he wrote. “I happen to be a huge fan.”
Choquette is out of the country and unavailable for comment, said Anne-Marie Aikins, a Toronto Public Library spokesperson.
The note, dated June 14, 1978, says: “Thank you very much for your great welcome and reception. I wish you the very best success with your library and its marvellous collection of books,” according to Maria Figueredo, professor of Latin American literature at York University.
Signed “All the best,” the card’s signature matches a reproduced image of Borges’ signature in one of his books, claims Choquette. He adds that he found nothing in the library’s archives that mentions a visit from Borges to the Agincourt library. In 1978, the branch was located in nearby Agincourt Mall at Kennedy Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E. in Scarborough.
The question remains: Was Borges at Agincourt library?
According to Star archives, Borges visited Toronto in 1968 and Ottawa in 1983 for a total of two stays in Canada. During a visit here, Borges gave a lecture at the University of Toronto. There was no indication of a visit in 1978.
“If he would’ve been in Toronto, he would’ve stated it,” said Figueredo, who read Choquette’s blog post. “That would’ve been the normal Spanish way to do it. You’d locate yourself if you were in a different location. Whereas no mention of Toronto means most likely he was in his own hometown or somewhere close.”
Still, Figueredo believes the card is the real deal.
“I think the card may be authentic; there seems to be nothing to contradict it,” she said, adding that Borges likely did not write the note himself because he was blind by 1978 and often dictated his letters.
It could be a card that Borges sent somebody in Toronto, who then put it in the book, says Figueredo. Or, the book could have been purchased in Argentina and then donated by someone who brought it with them to Toronto, she adds.
So, is it all a hoax? Probably not, says Toronto-based historian David Wencer.
“Why would anybody bother to forge such an item?” he said. “It is a very strange thing to forge and then plant.”