(urth) The Simplicissimus

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Mon Nov 23 08:23:18 PST 2009

> I have two different editions of the Simplicissimus, both of which
> lack the sixth book in which, according to Borges, Baldanders appears.
> What edition do you have, and who prepared it?  I'd like to look for
> a copy of my own.

Mine is translated by George Schultz-Behrend and published by Bobbs-Merrill 
"Library of Liberal Arts". Yellow paperback. Red titling. HOWEVER, because 
the translator believed chapters 2-18 would bore the modern reader, he 
summarizes them. Until I read the introduction just now, I assume these 
summaries were merely all that was extant of the text. This is his summary 
of the Baldanders chapter:

"ON a walk through the woods Simplicius finds a life-sized statue. It looks 
like an old German hero; and when he tries to turn it over, it begins to 
speak, saying its name is "Soon-different," who has always been with him and 
who will not leave him until he dies. It gives Simplicius a recipe for 
conversing with lifeless objects and , as if for fun, changes into about a 
dozen different shapes, but always remains its own true Soondifferent self. 
Having changed into a bird, it flies away."

Borges tells us that one of the things it changes into is a secretary that 
writes "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end."  And this phrase 
is the key to a coded document that tells Simplicius how to talk to lifeless 
objects ("chairs, benches, pots and kettles"). He also says that the 
Baldanders can change into a  man, oak, sow, sausage, meadow full of clover, 
dung, flower, flowering branch, mulberry tree, silk tapestry, and "many 
other things". It's coat of arms is the "inconstant moon".

Here's the cover of the first edition of Book 6 with a picture of the 

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