I don’t remember when or why I bought The Invention of Morel. It probably intrigued me because Jorge Luis Borges wrote the foreword to the book. I didn’t quite know what to get myself into when I caught sight of it last night while I was looking for a book that would distract me, and it would be over soon. It distracted me, but it also managed to confuse me.
The Invention of Morel is one of those novels that does not reveal exactly what one is reading in the very first chapters and, in fact, until the end of the book. Even Morel appears later, and we listen to the events from a strange narrator whose name we do not know.
This narrator was sentenced to death but somehow managed to escape his sentence. The place where he escaped is a very mysterious island. This island immediately caught my attention as a place because there is an architecturally peculiar house called a museum, a church and a pool on it. It is said that the people who built these buildings left the island after they built the structures. The central mystery of the island is the mysterious death of those who set foot here.
In The Invention of Morel, while the narrator thinks that he has been alone on the island for months, he suddenly sees people and begins to watch them from afar. While contemplating where these people came from, the narrator sees beautiful Faustine at sunset. Sitting alone against the sea, Faustine soon becomes the only thing the narrator expects to see on this strange island. After a while, he sees Morel next to Faustine, and after that, the narrator decides to follow this group of people more closely. Until they discover Morel’s invention, neither the narrator nor the reader can figure out what they are up against.
The Invention of Morel, first published in 1940, is one of the novels that make you think and dream a lot. I wasn’t quite sure if it was written in the 1940s to describe how television, cinema, images seen on a screen affect people, or whether it was written about death and life using these technological advances. Perhaps both were among what the author wanted to convey to the reader. Reading Morel’s Invention was an exciting experience for me, in which I had wild dreams. I recommend it.
The Invention of Morel
Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of The Screw and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Set on a mysterious island, Bioy’s novella is a story of suspense and exploration, as well as a wonderfully unlikely romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious.
Inspired by Bioy Casares’s fascination with the movie star Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morel has gone on to live a secret life of its own. Greatly admired by Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz, the novella helped to usher in Latin American fiction’s now famous postwar boom. As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year at Marienbad, it also changed the history of film.
Adolfo Bioy Casares
Adolfo Bioy Casares, pseudonyms Javier Miranda and Martin Sacastru, (born September 15, 1914, Buenos Aires, Argentina—died March 8, 1999, Buenos Aires), Argentine writer and editor, known both for his own work and for his collaborations with Jorge Luis Borges. His elegantly constructed works are oriented toward metaphysical possibilities and employ the fantastic to achieve their meanings.
Born into a wealthy family, Bioy Casares was encouraged in his writing, publishing (with the help of his father) his first book in 1929. In 1932 he met Borges, a meeting that resulted in lifelong friendship and literary collaboration. Together they edited the literary magazine Destiempo (1936). Bioy Casares published several books before 1940, including collections of short stories (such as Caos [1934; “Chaos”] and Luis Greve, muerto [1937; “Luis Greve, Deceased”]), but he did not win wide notice until the publication of his novel La invención de Morel (1940; The Invention of Morel).
A carefully constructed and fantastic work, it concerns a fugitive (the narrator) who has fallen in love and strives to establish contact with a woman who is eventually revealed to be only an image created by a film projector. The novel formed the basis for Alain Robbe-Grillet’s film script for Last Year at Marienbad (1961). The novel Plan de evasión (1945; A Plan for Escape) and the six short stories of La trama celeste (1948; “The Celestial Plot”) further explore imaginary worlds, tightly constructed to adhere to a fantastic logic.
In their collaborative efforts, Bioy Casares and Borges often employed the pseudonyms Honorio Bustos Domecq, B. Suarez Lynch, and B. Lynch Davis. Together they published Seis problemas para Don Isidro Parodi (1942; Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi) and Crónicas de Bustos Domecq (1967; Chronicles of Bustos Domecq), both of which satirize a variety of Argentine personalities.
The two also edited Los mejores cuentos policiales (1943; “The Greatest Detective Stories”), a two-volume book of gaucho poetry (Poesía gauchesca, 1955), and other works. Bioy Casares collaborated with his wife, the poet Silvina Ocampo, and Borges to edit Antología de la literatura fantástica (1940; “Anthology of Fantastic Literature”; Eng. trans. The Book of Fantasy) and Antología poética argentina (1941; “Anthology of Argentine Poetry”). In 1990 Bioy Casares was awarded the Cervantes Prize for Literature, the highest honour of Hispanic letters.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: