Man on Pink Corner

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"Man on Pink Corner" (original Spanish title: "Hombre de la Esquina Rosada") is a short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It is the first of several stories he wrote concerning duels between knife-fighters, which Borges recognized as one of his archetypal themes. "The story is one I have been retelling, with small variations, ever since. It is the tale of the motiveless, or disinterested, duel—of courage for its own sake." [1]

Jorge Luis Borges Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish-language and universal literature. His best-known books, Ficciones (Fictions) and El Aleph, published in the 1940s, are compilations of short stories interconnected by common themes, including dreams, labyrinths, philosophy, libraries, mirrors, fictional writers, and mythology. Borges' works have contributed to philosophical literature and the fantasy genre, and have been considered by some critics to mark the beginning of the magic realist movement in 20th century Latin American literature. His late poems converse with such cultural figures as Spinoza, Camões, and Virgil.


History of publication

A version of the story was first published on February 26, 1927 under the name "Police legend" (original Spanish title: "Leyenda Policial") in the literary magazine Martín Fierro, [2] and then in 1928 in El idioma de los argentinos as "Men Fought" (original Spanish title: "Hombres Pelearon"). Under the pseudonym Francisco Buscos, Borges published a third version, "Men of the Neighborhoods" (original Spanish title: "Hombres de las Orillas"), in Crítica in 1933. [3] A revised version was later published in the 1935 collection A Universal History of Iniquity.

Martín Fierro was an Argentine literary magazine which appeared from February 1924 to 1927. The magazine was founded by Evar Méndez, José B. Cairola, Leónidas Campbell, H. Carambat, Luis L. Franco, Oliverio Girondo, Ernesto Palacio, Pablo Rojas Paz, and Gastón O. Talamón, and reached a circulation of 20,000. Its headquarters was in Buenos Aires.

<i>Crítica de la Argentina</i>

Crítica de la Argentina was a daily newspaper from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Plot summary

The story is told from the first-person perspective of an unnamed narrator, who recounts the events of a particular night at a Villa Santa Rita bar and brothel. The clientele, including the narrator, spend the evening drinking and dancing the tango. Their festivities are interrupted by the arrival of a formidable stranger in black. When the narrator and some of the other patrons try to fight him, he effortlessly brushes them away.

Villa Santa Rita Barrio in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Villa Santa Rita is a barrio (district) of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is located in the western part of Capital Federal.

As he leads his gang into the room, the stranger introduces himself as Francisco Real, also known as "the Yardmaster," a knife fighter from the Northside district of Buenos Aires. He announces to the group that he has come to challenge the local tough, "the Sticker" Rosendo Juárez, who at the time commanded the respect and admiration of the entire neighborhood. Juárez ignores the challenge despite the urgings of his girlfriend, the local beauty, La Lujanera. To her disgust, Juárez flings his knife out the window and slips out into the street. La Lujanera decries his cowardice and, wrapping her arms around the Yardmaster, chooses to dance with him, instead. Eventually the two of them step outside, arm in arm; the Yardmaster implies that they will sleep together. The narrator, overwhelmed with feelings of shame and dishonor, follows them outside. He reflects on his sense of insignificance, on Rosendo's (and his) impotence in the face of a "bully" like the Yardmaster.

Buenos Aires Place in Argentina

Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina. The city is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the South American continent's southeastern coast. "Buenos Aires" can be translated as "fair winds" or "good airs", but the former was the meaning intended by the founders in the 16th century, by the use of the original name "Real de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre". The Greater Buenos Aires conurbation, which also includes several Buenos Aires Province districts, constitutes the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas, with a population of around 15.6 million.

At some point the narrator returns to the brothel. La Lujanera returns shortly thereafter, followed by the Yardmaster, who is dying from a knife wound to the chest. La Lujanera tearfully explains to the patrons that after the two of them left, a stranger – not Rosendo – appeared, challenged the Yardmaster to a fight, and stabbed him in the dark. The Yardmaster dies on the floor of the brothel. When a patron accuses La Lujanera of murdering him, the narrator comes to her defense and mocks the group by pointing out the irony of a man as fierce as the Yardmaster dying in a backwater neighborhood where nothing ever happens.

The patrons hear the police approaching, and wanting to avoid the law, they loot the Yardmaster's body and dispose of it in the river. Dawn breaks, La Lujanera takes her leave, and the brothel returns to normal. The narrator concludes by describing to his audience – revealed to be Borges himself – how he returned to his house. As the narrator strolls down the street inspecting his dagger, he looks up to see a light burning in the window of his house. It is implied that the narrator is the one who killed the Yardmaster, and that La Lujanera is in his home, waiting for him.

Connections to Borges' other works

In 1970, Borges published a prequel to "The Man on Pink Corner," called "The Story from Rosendo Juárez," which retells the night's events from Juárez's perspective.


"Man on Pink Corner" was adapted into a 1962 film of the same title by Argentine director René Múgica. It was shown at the Cannes and San Sebastián film festivals, [4] and was favorably received by Borges, who commented that the director "did a good job with the possibilities provided by the plot." [5]

Hombre de la Esquina Rosada is a 1962 Argentine film directed by René Múgica, based on the story by Jorge Luis Borges. It was shown at the Cannes and San Sebastián film festivals.

René Mugica actor, Film director, Screenwriter

René Mugica was an Argentine actor, film director and screenwriter. He appeared in 13 films between 1940 and 1953. He also directed ten films between 1961 and 1971.

Cannes Film Festival Annual film festival held in Cannes, France

The Cannes Festival, until 2002 called the International Film Festival and known in English as the Cannes Film Festival, is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres, including documentaries from all around the world. Founded in 1946, the invitation-only festival is held annually at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

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  1. Boldy, Steven. (2009). A companion to Jorge Luis Borges. Woodbridge, Suffolk [England]: Tamesis. ISBN   9781846157059. OCLC   703593370.
  2. Díaz, Hernán, 1973- (2012). Borges, between history and eternity. London: Continuum. ISBN   9781441169099. OCLC   819339287.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. Boldy, Steven. (2009). A companion to Jorge Luis Borges. Woodbridge, Suffolk [England]: Tamesis. ISBN   9781846157059. OCLC   703593370.
  4. Trelles Plazaola, Luis,. South American cinema : dictionary of film makers. Ferdinandy, Yudit de, (First ed.). Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. ISBN   084772011X. OCLC   19740301.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899-1986. (1998). Jorge Luis Borges : conversations. Burgin, Richard. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN   1578060753. OCLC   39606509.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)