Jorge Luis Borges, confusion around a legacy

Jorge Luis Borges and his wife, Maria Kodama, in Rome in 1981.

After defending her work tooth and nail for decades, Maria Kodama seems to have abandoned Borges in the middle of a labyrinth. Indeed, since the death, on March 26, of the widow and sole heir of the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), no document relating to the couple’s estate has been found. A situation that mobilizes the Argentine literary community, because it casts doubt on the future of the immense literary heritage of the author of Fervor of Buenos Aires (1923; Gallimard, 1993), his first book, whose 100th anniversary is rightly being celebrated. Without a will or direct descendants, the inheritance should go to five nephews of Maria Kodama, hitherto unknown to Borgesian circles.

Biographer and collector of Borges, Alejandro Vaccaro cannot believe it. ” It’s incredible ! To think that she watched over the work all her life and left with the door opennotes the president of the foundation that organizes the Buenos Aires Book Fair. The material elements belong to the legal heirs, that is indisputable. But the literary heritage and the exploitation of the work is something else. A committee of experts should be convened to discuss the publication of his writings and certain manuscripts. Kodama was the heiress, but Borges is a universal writer, he belongs to no one. » Specify that, sAccording to Argentine law, Borges will not enter the public domain until 2056.

Last wishes

Former lawyer of Maria Kodama and member of the International Borges Foundation, which she chaired, Me Fernando Soto also admits to being surprised. Contacted by “Le Monde des livres”, he assures that his client told him to have “everything arranged for his estate”. He even thought that Kodama named one of his friends, lawyer and author Claudia Farias Gomez, as the heir to moral rights.

“I met Claudia a few days after Kodama passed away and she told me she was not the heiresshe explains, adding that, according to his words, Claudia would have taken note of Maria’s last wishes, at her bedside. I was not able to see these notes, but in any case they have no legal value, since it would have been necessary to go before a notary. » The lawyer insists that the most important thing for Kodama was to“to prevent the state from taking over Borges and politicizing him”. In this regard, “his nephews seem determined not to sell the rights and to maintain the line of action of their aunt”adds the lawyer.

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