“The edition is good,” said Casares. “It was stolen from the National Library. Who gave it to you?”

Pastore mentioned Guillermo Billinghurst, a “mediocre bookbinder,” according to Casares, who used to bring him Borges first editions of dubious origins—a client had left it with him for binding, he would claim every time, and did not return to pick it up.

“I’m going to report this robbery to the National Library,” Casares warned Pastore. “You do whatever you want.” He watched Pastore leave with the stolen book. But he remained “deeply convinced that [Pastore] was not going to buy it.”

Fifteen years later, Casares bitterly regrets his outburst of civic responsibility. What happened afterward taught him that, in Argentina, it’s better to keep your mouth shut.

— GRACIELA MACHKOFSKY, VIA THE PARIS REVIEW