In the Kessel/Kelly anthology The Secret History of Science Fiction is a story by Carter Scholz called "The Nine Billion Names of God", which is a series of letters between Scholz and an SF magazine editor to whom Scholz keeps submitting a word-for-word duplicate of the Arthur C. Clarke story..."The Nine Billion Names of God". It is a replay (as it vaguely admits) of the Borges theme from "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" (a good chunk of the literary end of SF consists of various attempts to reify and extrapolate themes taken from these parable-like stories), and is intermittently amusing.
"Pierre Menard" involves a word-for-word duplicate of at least part of Don Quixote. Both Borges and Scholz fiddle with context and interpretation. How much of the meaning of the words is there on the page, and how much comes from elsewhere?
I've been thinking about genre lately, particularly stimulated by Secret History (which I will be writing more on). So here is my own exact duplicate experiment.
Herman Melville's Moby-Dick was published in 1851, and has bizarrely motivated characters in a realistic setting Melville himself experienced, that of a Nantucket whaler. What if, instead, the book had been written, word for word, in 1751, when none of the technology, society, and practices described in the book existed. Would that book have been science fiction?
I pick Moby-Dick for this thought experiment, rather than, say Middlemarch, because of its obsession with process, with group activity, and with specific technical detail--and perhaps because of its entirely male cast. If all that had been made up, rather than observed, it might read like a work of Golden Age science fiction. What about that work, the 1751 work, would not be like science fiction?
I don't have an answer right now. So I will come back to it at some later time.