La invención de Morel PDF/EPUB Ð La invención

La invención de Morel PDF/EPUB Ð La invención


La invención de Morel ➹ [Read] ➵ La invención de Morel By Adolfo Bioy Casares ➼ – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk 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 This fantastic exploration of realities also bea 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 This fantastic exploration of realities also bears comparison with the sharpest work of Philip K Dick It is both a story of suspense and a bizarre 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 La invención Kindle - Invention of Morel has gone on to find such admirers as Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain RobbeGrillet's Last Year in Marienbad, this classic of modern LatinAmerican literature also changed the history of film .

  • Paperback
  • 103 pages
  • La invención de Morel
  • Adolfo Bioy Casares
  • English
  • 16 December 2019
  • 9781590170571

About the Author: Adolfo Bioy Casares

Winner of the Gran Premio de Honor da Sociedad Argentina de Escritores , the Cervantes Award and the Légion d’Honneur da França , Adolfo Bioy Casares Buenos Aires, is one of the main writers of the XX century Also a journalist and translator, he was a friend and collaborator with his fellow countryman Jorge Luis Borges, with whom he wrote six books and created the c.



10 thoughts on “La invención de Morel

  1. Glenn Russell Glenn Russell says:



    The Invention of Morel was adjudged a perfect work by Jorge Luis Borges, the author’s mentor/friend/frequent collaborator. Anybody familiar with the essays and short fiction of Borges can appreciate what it means for one of the great masters of world literature to make such a pronouncement. Perhaps Borges’ appraisal reflects, in part, how Adolfo Bioy Casares shares much of his own aesthetic and literary sensibilities since, after all, they collaborated on twelve books.

    More specifically, here are some obvious similarities between the writing of the two authors:
    • The Invention of Morel is only one hundred pages, not too much longer than a number of Borges’s longer tales.
    • Similar to stories like The Circular Ruin, The Aleph and many other Borges tales, The Invention of Morel deals with multiple levels of so called reality.
    • The language and writing is elegant. Bloy Casares' short novel is akin to Borges' writing in Doctor Brodie’s Report and The Book of Sand, where Borges let go of his more ornate, baroque style.

    For the purpose of this review, I will take a specific focus: the relationship between the novel and the author’s and our own experience of film and television.

    The 1920s were the heyday of silent films. The first commercially successful sound film, The Jazz Singer, was released in 1929. Black and White 1940s TV was as raw as raw can be – just look at those 1949 TV shows on You Tube. In 1940, the year of publication for The Invention of Morel, ideas about what would become TV where in the air; what really had a grip on people’s imagination in the 1920s and 1930s was film, first silent film then film with sound.

    So, one can imagine a sensitive, imaginative literary artist like Adolfo Bioy Casares (born 1914) experiencing silent film in the 1920s as a boy and then sound films as a teenager and young man. One thing that makes The Invention of Morel so compelling is just how much of what the narrator and others in the novel experience is parallel to a world saturated with films and TV.

    Below are a number of quotes from the novel coupled with my reflections:

    “They are at the top of the hill, while I am far below. From here they look like a race of giants .” (page 12) ---------- Darn, if this wasn’t my exact experience when I went to my first movie. I was so overwhelmed by the race of giants ‘up there’ on the screen, I fled from the theater minutes after the movie started.

    “I saw the same room duplicated eight times in eight directions as if it were reflected in mirror.” (page 18) ---------- Again, darn. I recall my almost disbelief when, as a kid, I saw the same image repeated a dozen times when I first saw all those TVs turned to the same station in a department store. There was something freaky about the exact movement and image repeated on all those sets.

    “I went back to see her the next afternoon, and the next. She was there, and her presence began to take on the quality of a miracle.” (page 25) ---------- How many teenagers, young men and women and even older adults have fallen in love with a movie star and go back to the movies to see their loved one the next night and the next?

    “Words and movements of Faustine and the bearded man coincided with those of a week ago. The atrocious eternal return.” (page 41) ---------- In a way, isn’t that the world of movies – the same exact people doing exactly the same thing night after night up there on the screen. Live theater doesn't even come close to the movie’s eternal return.

    “Horrified by Faustine, who was so close to me, actually might be on another planet.” (page 53) ---------- How many men and women who have fallen in love with a star in a film or a TV show where they are so close they can press their hands against the star’s face (the TV screen) come to realize their emotions and feelings are for a being a universe away, far beyond their actual touch?

    ““Tea for Two” and “Valencia” persisted until after dawn.” (page 62) ---------- Most appropriate! Films and TV thrive on easy-to-remember songs and jingles.

    “I began to search for waves and vibrations that had previously been unattainable, to devise instruments to receive and transmit them.” (page 69). ---------- It is as if the author tuned into the collective unconscious desire in 1940 to expand film in different ways, one way being what would become TV.

    “ I was certain that my images of persons would lack consciousness of themselves (like the characters in a motion picture).” (page 70) ---------- This is part of a nearly four pages of Morel's internal dialogue. There is a lot here. One reflection: how many people have sacrificed their flesh-and-blood existential reality to make it as a star up there on the silver screen? What happens to the soul of the people in a city like Los Angeles, for example, when the city is taken over by an entire industry dedicated to producing films and shows populated by stars?

    I recall a quote from the main character in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when he goes into a roadside diner and can’t get the waitress’s attention because she is watching TV. He says, “I don’t exist since I’m not on TV.”


    Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914-1999)

  2. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:


    The Invention of Morel is a romantic classic in which passion triumphs over convention, a surrealist classic in which imagination triumphs over reality, a science fiction classic in which technology triumphs over time, and a mystery story whose fantastic resolution always plays fair with the reader.

    Is corporeality necessary for human personality? Is community possible even in isolation? Can love survive death and--perhaps what is worse--complete indifference? Bioy Casares novel addresses all of these questions.

    Not bad for a little book not quite one hundred pages long.

  3. Mutasim Billah Mutasim Billah says:

    To classify it as perfect is neither an imprecision nor a hyperbole.

    That is how Jorge Luis Borges chooses to praise the story in the prologue he wrote for The Invention of Morel. It is difficult to argue the truth of this opinion on this seminal work of fantastic fiction. However, one thing is for certain: Morel is a masterpiece of modernist fiction. Adolfo Bioy Casares' plot and aesthetic appears to be strongly influenced by Borges, which isn't a surprise considering the mentor-pupil friendship of the two authors.

    The book explores the life of a fugitive who is hiding on a deserted island. His narration shows a constant fear of being turned over to the law. It is this fear that has driven him to travelling in terse conditions and battling harsh weather to reach this island. The island is remote and barren, except for four fantastical structures: a chapel, a museum, a swimming pool and a mill. Unfortunately his stay is interrupted by the arrival of a group of tourists on the island, forcing him to retreat to the dense forestry to avoid being found out. Yet, who are these mysterious characters? What do they want? Why do they behave in the way they do? What is with the repetitive score of Tea for Two and Valencia played repeatedly in the background?

    The book is entirely based on one man's quest towards understanding these visitors and their phenomenons.

    “I do not believe that a dream should necessarily be taken for reality, or reality for madness.”

    Some noteworthy facts: The first sound film The Jazz Singer was released in the year 1927. Moving pictures (both silent and talking) had a central influence on the themes of the novel. The book was partially inspired by the movement from silent films to talking films and resulting career-deaths of some celebrated icons of the silent film industry. (See: Louise Brooks).

    H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau is also an inspiration behind the novel.

  4. s.penkevich s.penkevich says:

    ‘I do not believe that a dream should necessarily be taken for reality, or reality for madness.’

    How often we feel like an island, alone in a world and beleaguered by the crashing waves of change, responsibility and heartache eroding our soil. Adolfo Bioy Casares presents us a chilling and empathetic tale of love and loneliness, molding the ‘diary of a man stranded on an island’ literary trope into a fantastical and exciting exploration into the human heart. While the sci-fi elements are engaging and intriguing, it is the beat of the human heart drumming out a rhythm of angst and anxiety that takes center stage and pulls the fantasy elements along while making them still feel fresh decades later. The sting of unrequited love and the human desire to cheat death form a beautiful landscape for discussions of immortality and escape through Bioy Casares deft churning of plot and revelation.

    The diary writer of The Invention of Morel is both literally, emotionally and psychologically stranded on an island. Escaping a lifetime sentence for an unmentioned crime, he seeks refuge on an island feared for its legends of death and disease amongst what seems like an abandoned vacation resort. The shadowy life sentence hangs over his every move, and when strangers suddenly populate the island, he fears it is an elaborate plot to bring him to justice. The refusal to even hint at his crimes is one of the many mysteries of the novella that Bioy Casares employs to keep the screw of tension turned tight and add a veil of unreliability to the story—for which is benefits and adds color to an otherwise drab plot¹.

    ‘It is useless to try to keep the whole body alive.’

    The story of the Invention is fascinating, but it is not the invention but the morality within it’s creation that is most satisfying. This is a story of love, of being denied love and of desiring to capture the feeling of love for all eternity. Death is the great fear of mortality, and Bioy Casares offers a wild window into attempts to prove the notion that love conquers all, even death in this case. Inspired by a fixation with actress Louise Brooks, Invention explores the depths and depravity of unrequited love, focusing in on the infatuation one can feel for a character in a film or novel. In fits of infatuation, one may act in ways that seems irrational or uncharacteristic from the outside, and the narrator here is a perfect demonstration of the frustration and desperation of a one-sided love affair, even if one is in love with the idea of a person rather than the actual person. This calls to mind the assassination attempt on US President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. in an attempt to get the attention of and impress actress Jodie Foster. The technique of the diary is engaging as it allows the reader to occupy the writer’s headspace, leading towards an empathetic validation of his actions instead of a more cold and removed perspective.

    The slow unveiling of the plot under intense tones of stress is one of Inventions greatest strengths. This book is difficult to set down as the intensity of the mystery rages at a slow boil. Events take shape like the silhouettes of strangers sauntering out of a mist, and much is left unseen to trouble the reader like icebergs on a dark night at sea. While we are never told of the crime, there is an illuminating passage during the climactic final pages that chronicles the political struggles of the narrators homeland, slyly incorporating a message of feeling isolated by your own country during times of political strife. This seems in keeping with the political undertones of Latin American literature and adds an anchor to history for an otherwise weightless novella.

    Jorge Luis Borges championed Invention of Morel as a ‘perfect’ novel, a claim sure to raise a few critical eyebrows. Undeniably, the story could have easily been expanded upon and encompassed the reader in a vaster field of themes and insights into the moral implications of the novel; luckily we have the early seasons of LOST to build a world on the thin strands of ideas in this novel. Morel manages to be nearly perfect² for what it is as a novella—to have cut it to a short story would cheapen it and I suspect expanding on it would give a bloated feel—and strikes a sharp blow of singular emotive power by focusing on the pains of impossible love and letting the vast possibilities of the fantastic sci-fi backdrop serve mostly as a conduit for the discussions of solitude in life and love. There is a wider story and plot that could easily be taken to extraordinary places by authors intent more on the impressiveness of plot, but caressing the human heart behind this tale seems a more valuable experience. There is a high price for immortality, and what better to live on for eternity than the feelings of love. For all intensive purposes, Bioy Casares The Invention of Morel lives up to the challenge of immortality and has earned its keep among reissues and Latin American canonization.
    4/5

    ‘To be on an island inhabited by artificial ghosts was the most unbearable of nightmares—to be in love with one of those images was worse than being in love with a ghost (perhaps we always want the person we love to have the existence of a ghost).’

    ¹ Octavio Paz praised the novella as a world where ‘not only do we traverse a realm of shadows, we ourselves are shadows’. Everything is shadowy and unsure in the anxious tension that drives Invention. The Editor character that appears in the footnotes adds a further layer to toy with the ideas of authenticity though their role is primarily to highlight inconsistencies and mistakes. Another interesting aspect of the Editor character is that it assumes the document has been found and that there is a whole further story of discovery to be had out of sight from the reader; there is another chapter to the Invention that we will never know and this heightens the joy.

    ² One minor annoyance with the novel is the large sections of explanation exposition at the end of the book. It works, as it takes the form of the diary writer attempting to organize his own thoughts and theories on his circumstances, yet rather reeks of betraying the ‘show don’t tell’ constructs of literature that I tend to prefer.

  5. Seemita Seemita says:

    Insane. Insane. Again. Insane.

    Then I resumed my efforts, moving to other parts of the wall. Chips fell, and, when large pieces of the wall began to come down, I kept on pounding, bleary-eyed, with an urgency that was far greater than the size of the iron bar, until the resistance of the wall (which seemed unaffected by the force of my repeated pounding) pushed me to the floor, frantic and exhausted. First I saw, then I touched, the pieces of masonry— they were smooth on one side, harsh, earthy on the other: then, in a vision so lucid it seemed ephemeral and supernatural, my eyes saw the blue continuity of the tile, the undamaged and whole wall, the closed room.
    ‘Reasoned Imagination’ – That is how Borges describes this mindboggling attempt of Adolfo Bioy Casares, in what, that my humble mind can ascertain, is a superlative member of post-modernist, abstract fiction canon. Why does the mind battle its familiar boundaries in the thirst of alien waters? What rewards lie at the other end that compel acceptance of a torturous sentence, bordering on pragmatism and surrealism, pushing the soil beneath the feet to an unknown abyss? What does one achieve by undertaking a journey that robs him off his sanity and instead, plants a foreign temperament that forges alliance with none, not even with its owner? Oh no one really knows all the answers but the temptation to venture into such a world is one that has not spared a single, active mind.

    A convict, fleeing from authorities, lands into an unfamiliar island, which appears to him, as time passes by, as uninhabited too. With no vessel to transport him back in sight, he toils with his survival instinct and somehow, is managing his days in waiting. But his unusual utopia is thrown out of gear when one day, he spots a young beauty at a cliff adjacent to a building, ludicrously named as museum, staring at the setting sun. He is, at once, jolted off his senses and his intuition pokes him with a warning that this could be a police trap. His initial tentativeness is however, weakened gradually, as the sight appears almost every day and with time, more of her friends begin filling his vision. Overpowered by curiosity, he inches towards the museum and in time, eavesdrops on conversations. Faustine, the woman.

    As our narrator dwells deep into the mysterious appearance of Faustine, her appeal, her gang (especially Morel) and their purpose on the island, Casares begins tightening the grip, one knot at a time, around an outstanding plot, resting on magic, science and immortality. The fecundity of Casares’ vision not only lies in the masterly excavation of what can be a perennial memory (or truth?), but also why it should be. While the how is clearly debatable, it does enough damage to a normal brain to banish the usual attire and deep dive into the questionable with a restless but freelancer spirit. And literature, I feel, must always achieve this objective. And for this ambitious dilemma alone, I am glad I quarantined my sanity for a while. More ABC!

  6. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    La invención de Morel = The Invention of Morel = Morel's Invention, Adolfo Bioy Casares

    The Invention of Morel is a novel by Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares. The fugitive starts a diary after tourists arrive on the desert island where he is hiding. Although he considers their presence a miracle, he is afraid they will turn him in to the authorities.

    He retreats to the swamps while they take over the museum on top of the hill where he used to live. The diary described the fugitive as a writer from Venezuela sentenced to life in prison. He believes he is on the (fictional) island of Villings, a part of the Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu), but is not sure.

    All he knows is that the island is the focus of a strange disease whose symptoms are similar to radiation poisoning. Among the tourists is a woman who watches the sunset every day from the cliff on the west side of the island.

    He spies on her and while doing so falls in love. She and another man, a bearded tennis player called Morel who visits her frequently, speak French among themselves. Morel calls her Faustine.

    The fugitive decides to approach her, but she does not react to him. He assumes she is ignoring him; however, his encounters with the other tourists have the same result. Nobody on the island notices him. He points out that the conversations between Faustine and Morel repeat every week and fears he is going crazy. ...

    تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز شانزدهم ماه آوریل سال 2015 میلادی

    عنوان: ابداع مورل؛ نویسنده: آدولفو بیوئی کاسارس؛ مترجم مجتبی ویسی؛ تهران، انتشارات نشر ثالث؛ چاپ دوم 1393، در 152ص؛ شابک 9789643805517؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان آرژانتینی - سده 20م

    داستان مجرمی فراری ست که به یک جزیره ی نامسکون پناه می‌برد، و در آن جزیره با عده‌ ای برخورد می‌کند، اما ماجرای برخورد ایشان با این افراد باور نکردنی و پیچیده است؛ چون به نظر می‌رسد که آن‌ها او را نمی‌بینند.؛ به دنبال این، رویدادهایی در آن جزیره رخ می‌دهد

    تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 03/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  7. BlackOxford BlackOxford says:

    Coming Clean About LOST

    Several years ago I was induced by my grandchildren to watch seven seasons’ worth of the television series LOST during summer holidays. Filmed in Hawaii from 2004 to 2010, the series recounted the increasingly strange existence of the survivors of a trans-Pacific flight on an apparently uncharted, and possibly uncharitable, island. Often tedious, always unexpected, the tale, I decided, was either an invention beyond my abilities to appreciate, or it was utter nonsense, with no overall plot or plan for an ending. Turns out it was a bit of both.

    Although I have read nothing to confirm this conclusion, it is entirely clear to me that LOST is merely a derivative version of Bioy Casares novella, The Invention of Morel. At least three versions of the 1949 the book had been made into films during the 1960's and 70's. These were explicitly credited to Bioy Casares. But as far as I am aware there is no mention of him as the inspiration for the LOST series. Yet the substance of his book is identical to that of the series, with a few twists thrown into the series reflecting more modern tastes and technologies. Here are my main points of comparison:

    1. Both the series and the book take place on a remote island which is inaccessible by normal means. This is explained in the book as due to a reef and an illness, but not in the series which relies on unexplained physical phenomena. The precise means of entry and exit from the island remains a mystery in both.

    2. Bioy has a single protagonist who arrives on the island as a fugitive from justice for some indeterminate crime for which he feels both guilt and shame. In LOST this transforms into a plane-load of survivors most of whom are also fugitives, either from the law or from intolerable social conditions. All the main characters feel guilt and shame and demonstrate the same sort of paranoia as Bioy's.

    3. There is architectural evidence on the islands in both the book and the series of a previous habitation, modern buildings of unknown purpose, which have been abandoned but left in serviceable condition.

    4. Within these structures are found various sophisticated technologies of indeterminate function that are powered by a natural but novel source of tremendous energy. In the series this source is an intense magnetic field, in the book it is tidal forces.

    5. These technologies, it is eventually revealed, both allow time travel within the island and provide immortality to its inhabitants. There are relatively minor differences in the series and the book having mainly to do with the level of contemporary technological development reached in each case.

    6. The characters in the series mirror those in the book. LOSTS's Ben Linus is the same Californian-esque cult leader as Morel. Bioy's protagonist and his 'female lead', Faustine are the series Jack Shepherd and his sometime enamorata Juliet, this latter being the focus of rivalry by the male characters in both.

    7. Several other tropes and devices from Bioy are used repeatedly in the series: half-heard conversations, dream-like sequences, and so on. Others are scarcely concealed variants. For example, in Bioy, trees on the island die before maturity; in the series, it is infants who die.

    The parts of the television series which were comprehensible to me were precisely those written by Bioy. I appreciated them as creative and innovative even 60 years later. The rest was indeed junk. And yet not a mention of the real source by the tv producers. Shameful

  8. Adam Dalva Adam Dalva says:

    A lean, somewhat remarkable little thing. The much ballyhooed connection with Last Year at Marienbad is fascinating - I never would have thought of it but it's dead on. I don't really know how to explain what this is without spoiling it, but it's an admirable piece of surrealism/sci-fi that stands out for its meticulousness. Every aspect is painstakingly explained (and illustrated!) and what results is a totally logical book. It's fun to try to figure out what is happening alongside the narrator - my favorite section comes when he lays out every possible explanation for the strange events - and I found Casares's disinterest in exposition commendable. The thing that's actually happening is a fairly brilliant literary invention, and the ending is massively on-point. Some nice moments of meta-fiction are sprinkled through, and I totally dug the flower garden sequence (you'll see).

    What's weird, really weird, is despite all this, it's too long. You'll get frustrated with the narrator for not figuring it out sooner. And there are these strange little loops in it that make it read a little too stream-of-consciousnessy (the introduction claims that this is a move away from that particular surrealist trend - I'd argue that some tendrils remain). I see why Borges liked it, but it doesn't remind me of his writing at all.

  9. Lynne King Lynne King says:

    When I first started this novella, I was highly bemused by everything. The nameless narrator from Venezuela, who is living on an island he believes is called Villings and who decides to write a diary of what is happening there. He is unsure how long he has to live. He is a fugitive on the run from justice after being sentenced to life imprisonment. We are never to find out what this crime is, and then an Italian rug merchant in Calcutta tells him about an island:

    There is only one place for a fugitive like you – it is an uninhabited island, but a human being cannot live there. Around 1924 a group of white men built a museum, a chapel, and a swimming pool on the island. (A rather good drawing is shown in the book). The work was completed and then abandoned….. Chinese pirates do not go there, and the white ship of the Rockefeller Institute never calls at the island, because it is known to be the focal point of a mysterious disease, a fatal disease that attacks the outside of the body and then works inward. The nails drop off, the fingers and toes; the hair falls out. The skin and the corneas of the eyes die, and the body lives on for one week, or two at the most.

    And this individual still wants to go there because his life is so unbearable! By this stage I was getting completely annoyed with this book. People started arriving on the island and doing rather odd things. I really couldn’t take the comings and goings any longer and so decided to abandon it.

    Nevertheless, would you believe that I couldn’t stop thinking about the wretched book and started rereading it the following day. Whatever happened I was determined to finish it – I can only compare this to a dog with a bone.

    It’s rather strange but I seemed to view the work in a different light. Perhaps sitting on the terrace in the sun put me in a better state of mind. I really don’t know. I then began to appreciate the book as the story unfolded; actually a love story, but nevertheless a very unusual love story.

    Then one day a group of visitors come to the island. The narrator soon has his gaze fixed on a woman who looks like a gypsy. She sits on a rock and comes every afternoon to watch the sunset. Our narrator is mesmerized by her, cannot get her out of his mind and watches her every day for a week. He even springs out to her one day to surprise her but he may as well have been invisible as she apparently cannot see him. On one of these days she is talking to a man called Morel who calls her Faustine. Ah now our narrator knows the name of his now much beloved one.

    There is much confusion as the narrator doesn’t appear to know if he’s hallucinating at times, is dead or alive, the visitors are dead, images or what. He’s full of angst most of the time being quite convinced that these people on the island are there to capture him and he’s constantly on the run. He also is unsure out of all of these individuals who can see him and who cannot. But surprisingly enough our narrator doesn’t seem at all bothered with the possibility of death from this supposedly dreadful disease. But is there such a disease or is it all an illusion? The answer does indeed lie with an individual called Morel and it transpires that he has created a machine using images from reflections in mirrors. Our narrator cannot understand why he can see and hear Faustine and Morel and the other guests and then a week later this scenario is repeated.

    The descriptive elements are superb, be it the flora on the island or the treacherous tides, that submerge parts of the island; which all add to the structure of the novel.

    And as for the two suns and two moons, I couldn’t fathom this out at all until later in the book. What was interesting to know however is that two suns had been seen before in earlier times by Cicero:

    The two suns that, as I heard from my father, were seen in the Consulate of Tuditanus and Aquilius, in the year (183 B.C) when the sun of Publius Africanus was extinguished.. (This statement appears to be incorrect after looking at other reliable sources but the gist is there.)

    This tour de force had such an unexpected effect on me and to think that I nearly dismissed it arbitrarily. The writing style is second to none and in fact I really don’t know how the author had such an incredible imagination to write this novella. I most certainly want to read his other books.

    Faced with the penultimate page I found myself highly perplexed. How can one possibly describe this multi-faceted, metaphysical, mysterious, surreal and surprising novella? There is so much depth to this work.

    As for the denouement… Well all that can be said is that it wasn’t at all what I expected.

    And finally, thank you Harold for mentioning this book to me in one of your comments on a book by J.L. Borges, Collected Fictions. It’s interesting that they both had this fascination with mirrors and what they can lead to.

  10. Rakhi Dalal Rakhi Dalal says:



    The incomprehensibility of an idea is what makes man delve deeper into it. The more challenging the idea the more fascination it holds. For as long as mankind can remember, the idea of death and immortality has intrigued minds, making man wish to conquer death and to become immortal. Philosophy, science and religion maintain views which suggest some interesting thoughts for contemplation. But since ‘death’ still remains unconquerable, man somehow tries to deceive it by leaving behind works of importance which may perhaps render immortality to the name. In the case of Art it seems even more appropriate. As long as the work of art lives, the name of artist remains immortal.

    This work by Adolfo Bioy Casares, not only deals with a man’s fascination with the idea of immortality and how he tries to achieve it but also with its confrontation with reality. It further poses questions on the possible implications and this is what makes this work so compelling. I would venture to say that even without Borges’ support the work would have stood apart as a distinct work of art whose beauty lies in the remarkably executed plot.

    The protagonist of the story is a fugitive and the story is narrated in first person. The work starts with narrator’s coming to a remote, supposedly disease infected island with no human sign. We are never told the name of the narrator but the name of island is Villings and it has a museum, a chapel and a swimming pool, thought to be constructed by the last inhabitants who abandoned it later because of the disease. After sometime the narrator start noticing people on the island who were not there before and who seemed to have come out of nowhere. Where have they come from? Now this is the deceit which Casares has worked so beautifully with and it is quite well advanced for his times.

    Those people are actually not real but images. Images recorded for a week and then being set up on a big projector working in sync with the ocean tides. But the images are three dimensional like in holography so that they appear real from a distance. The work being undertaken by a man named Morel (interestingly it seems to rhyme with the Greek word ‘Moirai’ which is plural and means ‘fates’). We know of this because in a recorded scene, Morel tells about it to all the people whom he recorded for his experiment. The experiment being to make those people immortal by capturing them and letting them live in a projected world forever.

    Our narrator, who seems to be fascinated with this experiment because he has fallen in love with the image of a woman named Faustine, records all his experiences in a diary and somehow wishes to be a part of the experiment itself to be able to make his presence felt to the woman. But he also posits uncertainty as to the fruitfulness of such endeavor.

    “The case of the inventor who is duped by his own invention emphasizes our need for circumspection. But I may be generalizing about the peculiarities of one man, moralizing about a characteristic that applies only to Morel. I approve of the direction he gave, no doubt unconsciously, to his efforts to perpetuate man: but he has preserved nothing but sensations; and, although his invention was incomplete, he at least foreshadowed the truth: man will one day create human life. His work seems to confirm my old axiom: it is useless to try to keep the whole body alive.”

    The preservation of images without them having any consciousness is different from our reality and hence incomplete. Also further he questions the morality of such endeavors and their consequences, shall man be able to device something successfully, perhaps including consciousness, to remain immortal.

    When minds of greater refinement than Morel's begin to work on the invention, man will select a lonely, pleasant place, will go there with the persons he loves most, and will endure in an intimate paradise. A single garden, if the scenes to be eternalized are recorded at different moments, will contain innumerable paradises, and each group of inhabitants, unaware of the others, will move about simultaneously, almost in the same places, without colliding. But unfortunately these will be vulnerable paradises because the images will not be able to see men; and, if men do not heed the advice of Malthus, someday they will need the land of even the smallest paradise, and will destroy its defenseless inhabitants or will exile them by disconnecting their machines.


    Casares seems to be anticipating the hazard of such scientific inventions which man may undertake to gain immortality in the future. Although we haven’t yet achieved it but the horror of this possibility is not hard to imagine.

    The work also seems to be an ode to the world of movies since Casares was quite fascinated by them while growing up.The idea of capturing images of actors and then playing them over and over again to attain same reality was what held his attention. He is also seemingly fascinated by the idea of cyclic repetition as his literary guide Borges.

    I am quite taken by the power of his writing style and after the strong recommendation of Mike, do look forward to reading more of him.

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10 thoughts on “La invención de Morel

  1. Glenn Russell Glenn Russell says:



    The Invention of Morel was adjudged a perfect work by Jorge Luis Borges, the author’s mentor/friend/frequent collaborator. Anybody familiar with the essays and short fiction of Borges can appreciate what it means for one of the great masters of world literature to make such a pronouncement. Perhaps Borges’ appraisal reflects, in part, how Adolfo Bioy Casares shares much of his own aesthetic and literary sensibilities since, after all, they collaborated on twelve books.

    More specifically, here are some obvious similarities between the writing of the two authors:
    • The Invention of Morel is only one hundred pages, not too much longer than a number of Borges’s longer tales.
    • Similar to stories like The Circular Ruin, The Aleph and many other Borges tales, The Invention of Morel deals with multiple levels of so called reality.
    • The language and writing is elegant. Bloy Casares' short novel is akin to Borges' writing in Doctor Brodie’s Report and The Book of Sand, where Borges let go of his more ornate, baroque style.

    For the purpose of this review, I will take a specific focus: the relationship between the novel and the author’s and our own experience of film and television.

    The 1920s were the heyday of silent films. The first commercially successful sound film, The Jazz Singer, was released in 1929. Black and White 1940s TV was as raw as raw can be – just look at those 1949 TV shows on You Tube. In 1940, the year of publication for The Invention of Morel, ideas about what would become TV where in the air; what really had a grip on people’s imagination in the 1920s and 1930s was film, first silent film then film with sound.

    So, one can imagine a sensitive, imaginative literary artist like Adolfo Bioy Casares (born 1914) experiencing silent film in the 1920s as a boy and then sound films as a teenager and young man. One thing that makes The Invention of Morel so compelling is just how much of what the narrator and others in the novel experience is parallel to a world saturated with films and TV.

    Below are a number of quotes from the novel coupled with my reflections:

    “They are at the top of the hill, while I am far below. From here they look like a race of giants .” (page 12) ---------- Darn, if this wasn’t my exact experience when I went to my first movie. I was so overwhelmed by the race of giants ‘up there’ on the screen, I fled from the theater minutes after the movie started.

    “I saw the same room duplicated eight times in eight directions as if it were reflected in mirror.” (page 18) ---------- Again, darn. I recall my almost disbelief when, as a kid, I saw the same image repeated a dozen times when I first saw all those TVs turned to the same station in a department store. There was something freaky about the exact movement and image repeated on all those sets.

    “I went back to see her the next afternoon, and the next. She was there, and her presence began to take on the quality of a miracle.” (page 25) ---------- How many teenagers, young men and women and even older adults have fallen in love with a movie star and go back to the movies to see their loved one the next night and the next?

    “Words and movements of Faustine and the bearded man coincided with those of a week ago. The atrocious eternal return.” (page 41) ---------- In a way, isn’t that the world of movies – the same exact people doing exactly the same thing night after night up there on the screen. Live theater doesn't even come close to the movie’s eternal return.

    “Horrified by Faustine, who was so close to me, actually might be on another planet.” (page 53) ---------- How many men and women who have fallen in love with a star in a film or a TV show where they are so close they can press their hands against the star’s face (the TV screen) come to realize their emotions and feelings are for a being a universe away, far beyond their actual touch?

    ““Tea for Two” and “Valencia” persisted until after dawn.” (page 62) ---------- Most appropriate! Films and TV thrive on easy-to-remember songs and jingles.

    “I began to search for waves and vibrations that had previously been unattainable, to devise instruments to receive and transmit them.” (page 69). ---------- It is as if the author tuned into the collective unconscious desire in 1940 to expand film in different ways, one way being what would become TV.

    “ I was certain that my images of persons would lack consciousness of themselves (like the characters in a motion picture).” (page 70) ---------- This is part of a nearly four pages of Morel's internal dialogue. There is a lot here. One reflection: how many people have sacrificed their flesh-and-blood existential reality to make it as a star up there on the silver screen? What happens to the soul of the people in a city like Los Angeles, for example, when the city is taken over by an entire industry dedicated to producing films and shows populated by stars?

    I recall a quote from the main character in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when he goes into a roadside diner and can’t get the waitress’s attention because she is watching TV. He says, “I don’t exist since I’m not on TV.”


    Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914-1999)

  2. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:


    The Invention of Morel is a romantic classic in which passion triumphs over convention, a surrealist classic in which imagination triumphs over reality, a science fiction classic in which technology triumphs over time, and a mystery story whose fantastic resolution always plays fair with the reader.

    Is corporeality necessary for human personality? Is community possible even in isolation? Can love survive death and--perhaps what is worse--complete indifference? Bioy Casares novel addresses all of these questions.

    Not bad for a little book not quite one hundred pages long.

  3. Mutasim Billah Mutasim Billah says:

    To classify it as perfect is neither an imprecision nor a hyperbole.

    That is how Jorge Luis Borges chooses to praise the story in the prologue he wrote for The Invention of Morel. It is difficult to argue the truth of this opinion on this seminal work of fantastic fiction. However, one thing is for certain: Morel is a masterpiece of modernist fiction. Adolfo Bioy Casares' plot and aesthetic appears to be strongly influenced by Borges, which isn't a surprise considering the mentor-pupil friendship of the two authors.

    The book explores the life of a fugitive who is hiding on a deserted island. His narration shows a constant fear of being turned over to the law. It is this fear that has driven him to travelling in terse conditions and battling harsh weather to reach this island. The island is remote and barren, except for four fantastical structures: a chapel, a museum, a swimming pool and a mill. Unfortunately his stay is interrupted by the arrival of a group of tourists on the island, forcing him to retreat to the dense forestry to avoid being found out. Yet, who are these mysterious characters? What do they want? Why do they behave in the way they do? What is with the repetitive score of Tea for Two and Valencia played repeatedly in the background?

    The book is entirely based on one man's quest towards understanding these visitors and their phenomenons.

    “I do not believe that a dream should necessarily be taken for reality, or reality for madness.”

    Some noteworthy facts: The first sound film The Jazz Singer was released in the year 1927. Moving pictures (both silent and talking) had a central influence on the themes of the novel. The book was partially inspired by the movement from silent films to talking films and resulting career-deaths of some celebrated icons of the silent film industry. (See: Louise Brooks).

    H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau is also an inspiration behind the novel.

  4. s.penkevich s.penkevich says:

    ‘I do not believe that a dream should necessarily be taken for reality, or reality for madness.’

    How often we feel like an island, alone in a world and beleaguered by the crashing waves of change, responsibility and heartache eroding our soil. Adolfo Bioy Casares presents us a chilling and empathetic tale of love and loneliness, molding the ‘diary of a man stranded on an island’ literary trope into a fantastical and exciting exploration into the human heart. While the sci-fi elements are engaging and intriguing, it is the beat of the human heart drumming out a rhythm of angst and anxiety that takes center stage and pulls the fantasy elements along while making them still feel fresh decades later. The sting of unrequited love and the human desire to cheat death form a beautiful landscape for discussions of immortality and escape through Bioy Casares deft churning of plot and revelation.

    The diary writer of The Invention of Morel is both literally, emotionally and psychologically stranded on an island. Escaping a lifetime sentence for an unmentioned crime, he seeks refuge on an island feared for its legends of death and disease amongst what seems like an abandoned vacation resort. The shadowy life sentence hangs over his every move, and when strangers suddenly populate the island, he fears it is an elaborate plot to bring him to justice. The refusal to even hint at his crimes is one of the many mysteries of the novella that Bioy Casares employs to keep the screw of tension turned tight and add a veil of unreliability to the story—for which is benefits and adds color to an otherwise drab plot¹.

    ‘It is useless to try to keep the whole body alive.’

    The story of the Invention is fascinating, but it is not the invention but the morality within it’s creation that is most satisfying. This is a story of love, of being denied love and of desiring to capture the feeling of love for all eternity. Death is the great fear of mortality, and Bioy Casares offers a wild window into attempts to prove the notion that love conquers all, even death in this case. Inspired by a fixation with actress Louise Brooks, Invention explores the depths and depravity of unrequited love, focusing in on the infatuation one can feel for a character in a film or novel. In fits of infatuation, one may act in ways that seems irrational or uncharacteristic from the outside, and the narrator here is a perfect demonstration of the frustration and desperation of a one-sided love affair, even if one is in love with the idea of a person rather than the actual person. This calls to mind the assassination attempt on US President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. in an attempt to get the attention of and impress actress Jodie Foster. The technique of the diary is engaging as it allows the reader to occupy the writer’s headspace, leading towards an empathetic validation of his actions instead of a more cold and removed perspective.

    The slow unveiling of the plot under intense tones of stress is one of Inventions greatest strengths. This book is difficult to set down as the intensity of the mystery rages at a slow boil. Events take shape like the silhouettes of strangers sauntering out of a mist, and much is left unseen to trouble the reader like icebergs on a dark night at sea. While we are never told of the crime, there is an illuminating passage during the climactic final pages that chronicles the political struggles of the narrators homeland, slyly incorporating a message of feeling isolated by your own country during times of political strife. This seems in keeping with the political undertones of Latin American literature and adds an anchor to history for an otherwise weightless novella.

    Jorge Luis Borges championed Invention of Morel as a ‘perfect’ novel, a claim sure to raise a few critical eyebrows. Undeniably, the story could have easily been expanded upon and encompassed the reader in a vaster field of themes and insights into the moral implications of the novel; luckily we have the early seasons of LOST to build a world on the thin strands of ideas in this novel. Morel manages to be nearly perfect² for what it is as a novella—to have cut it to a short story would cheapen it and I suspect expanding on it would give a bloated feel—and strikes a sharp blow of singular emotive power by focusing on the pains of impossible love and letting the vast possibilities of the fantastic sci-fi backdrop serve mostly as a conduit for the discussions of solitude in life and love. There is a wider story and plot that could easily be taken to extraordinary places by authors intent more on the impressiveness of plot, but caressing the human heart behind this tale seems a more valuable experience. There is a high price for immortality, and what better to live on for eternity than the feelings of love. For all intensive purposes, Bioy Casares The Invention of Morel lives up to the challenge of immortality and has earned its keep among reissues and Latin American canonization.
    4/5

    ‘To be on an island inhabited by artificial ghosts was the most unbearable of nightmares—to be in love with one of those images was worse than being in love with a ghost (perhaps we always want the person we love to have the existence of a ghost).’

    ¹ Octavio Paz praised the novella as a world where ‘not only do we traverse a realm of shadows, we ourselves are shadows’. Everything is shadowy and unsure in the anxious tension that drives Invention. The Editor character that appears in the footnotes adds a further layer to toy with the ideas of authenticity though their role is primarily to highlight inconsistencies and mistakes. Another interesting aspect of the Editor character is that it assumes the document has been found and that there is a whole further story of discovery to be had out of sight from the reader; there is another chapter to the Invention that we will never know and this heightens the joy.

    ² One minor annoyance with the novel is the large sections of explanation exposition at the end of the book. It works, as it takes the form of the diary writer attempting to organize his own thoughts and theories on his circumstances, yet rather reeks of betraying the ‘show don’t tell’ constructs of literature that I tend to prefer.

  5. Seemita Seemita says:

    Insane. Insane. Again. Insane.

    Then I resumed my efforts, moving to other parts of the wall. Chips fell, and, when large pieces of the wall began to come down, I kept on pounding, bleary-eyed, with an urgency that was far greater than the size of the iron bar, until the resistance of the wall (which seemed unaffected by the force of my repeated pounding) pushed me to the floor, frantic and exhausted. First I saw, then I touched, the pieces of masonry— they were smooth on one side, harsh, earthy on the other: then, in a vision so lucid it seemed ephemeral and supernatural, my eyes saw the blue continuity of the tile, the undamaged and whole wall, the closed room.
    ‘Reasoned Imagination’ – That is how Borges describes this mindboggling attempt of Adolfo Bioy Casares, in what, that my humble mind can ascertain, is a superlative member of post-modernist, abstract fiction canon. Why does the mind battle its familiar boundaries in the thirst of alien waters? What rewards lie at the other end that compel acceptance of a torturous sentence, bordering on pragmatism and surrealism, pushing the soil beneath the feet to an unknown abyss? What does one achieve by undertaking a journey that robs him off his sanity and instead, plants a foreign temperament that forges alliance with none, not even with its owner? Oh no one really knows all the answers but the temptation to venture into such a world is one that has not spared a single, active mind.

    A convict, fleeing from authorities, lands into an unfamiliar island, which appears to him, as time passes by, as uninhabited too. With no vessel to transport him back in sight, he toils with his survival instinct and somehow, is managing his days in waiting. But his unusual utopia is thrown out of gear when one day, he spots a young beauty at a cliff adjacent to a building, ludicrously named as museum, staring at the setting sun. He is, at once, jolted off his senses and his intuition pokes him with a warning that this could be a police trap. His initial tentativeness is however, weakened gradually, as the sight appears almost every day and with time, more of her friends begin filling his vision. Overpowered by curiosity, he inches towards the museum and in time, eavesdrops on conversations. Faustine, the woman.

    As our narrator dwells deep into the mysterious appearance of Faustine, her appeal, her gang (especially Morel) and their purpose on the island, Casares begins tightening the grip, one knot at a time, around an outstanding plot, resting on magic, science and immortality. The fecundity of Casares’ vision not only lies in the masterly excavation of what can be a perennial memory (or truth?), but also why it should be. While the how is clearly debatable, it does enough damage to a normal brain to banish the usual attire and deep dive into the questionable with a restless but freelancer spirit. And literature, I feel, must always achieve this objective. And for this ambitious dilemma alone, I am glad I quarantined my sanity for a while. More ABC!

  6. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    La invención de Morel = The Invention of Morel = Morel's Invention, Adolfo Bioy Casares

    The Invention of Morel is a novel by Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares. The fugitive starts a diary after tourists arrive on the desert island where he is hiding. Although he considers their presence a miracle, he is afraid they will turn him in to the authorities.

    He retreats to the swamps while they take over the museum on top of the hill where he used to live. The diary described the fugitive as a writer from Venezuela sentenced to life in prison. He believes he is on the (fictional) island of Villings, a part of the Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu), but is not sure.

    All he knows is that the island is the focus of a strange disease whose symptoms are similar to radiation poisoning. Among the tourists is a woman who watches the sunset every day from the cliff on the west side of the island.

    He spies on her and while doing so falls in love. She and another man, a bearded tennis player called Morel who visits her frequently, speak French among themselves. Morel calls her Faustine.

    The fugitive decides to approach her, but she does not react to him. He assumes she is ignoring him; however, his encounters with the other tourists have the same result. Nobody on the island notices him. He points out that the conversations between Faustine and Morel repeat every week and fears he is going crazy. ...

    تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز شانزدهم ماه آوریل سال 2015 میلادی

    عنوان: ابداع مورل؛ نویسنده: آدولفو بیوئی کاسارس؛ مترجم مجتبی ویسی؛ تهران، انتشارات نشر ثالث؛ چاپ دوم 1393، در 152ص؛ شابک 9789643805517؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان آرژانتینی - سده 20م

    داستان مجرمی فراری ست که به یک جزیره ی نامسکون پناه می‌برد، و در آن جزیره با عده‌ ای برخورد می‌کند، اما ماجرای برخورد ایشان با این افراد باور نکردنی و پیچیده است؛ چون به نظر می‌رسد که آن‌ها او را نمی‌بینند.؛ به دنبال این، رویدادهایی در آن جزیره رخ می‌دهد

    تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 03/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  7. BlackOxford BlackOxford says:

    Coming Clean About LOST

    Several years ago I was induced by my grandchildren to watch seven seasons’ worth of the television series LOST during summer holidays. Filmed in Hawaii from 2004 to 2010, the series recounted the increasingly strange existence of the survivors of a trans-Pacific flight on an apparently uncharted, and possibly uncharitable, island. Often tedious, always unexpected, the tale, I decided, was either an invention beyond my abilities to appreciate, or it was utter nonsense, with no overall plot or plan for an ending. Turns out it was a bit of both.

    Although I have read nothing to confirm this conclusion, it is entirely clear to me that LOST is merely a derivative version of Bioy Casares novella, The Invention of Morel. At least three versions of the 1949 the book had been made into films during the 1960's and 70's. These were explicitly credited to Bioy Casares. But as far as I am aware there is no mention of him as the inspiration for the LOST series. Yet the substance of his book is identical to that of the series, with a few twists thrown into the series reflecting more modern tastes and technologies. Here are my main points of comparison:

    1. Both the series and the book take place on a remote island which is inaccessible by normal means. This is explained in the book as due to a reef and an illness, but not in the series which relies on unexplained physical phenomena. The precise means of entry and exit from the island remains a mystery in both.

    2. Bioy has a single protagonist who arrives on the island as a fugitive from justice for some indeterminate crime for which he feels both guilt and shame. In LOST this transforms into a plane-load of survivors most of whom are also fugitives, either from the law or from intolerable social conditions. All the main characters feel guilt and shame and demonstrate the same sort of paranoia as Bioy's.

    3. There is architectural evidence on the islands in both the book and the series of a previous habitation, modern buildings of unknown purpose, which have been abandoned but left in serviceable condition.

    4. Within these structures are found various sophisticated technologies of indeterminate function that are powered by a natural but novel source of tremendous energy. In the series this source is an intense magnetic field, in the book it is tidal forces.

    5. These technologies, it is eventually revealed, both allow time travel within the island and provide immortality to its inhabitants. There are relatively minor differences in the series and the book having mainly to do with the level of contemporary technological development reached in each case.

    6. The characters in the series mirror those in the book. LOSTS's Ben Linus is the same Californian-esque cult leader as Morel. Bioy's protagonist and his 'female lead', Faustine are the series Jack Shepherd and his sometime enamorata Juliet, this latter being the focus of rivalry by the male characters in both.

    7. Several other tropes and devices from Bioy are used repeatedly in the series: half-heard conversations, dream-like sequences, and so on. Others are scarcely concealed variants. For example, in Bioy, trees on the island die before maturity; in the series, it is infants who die.

    The parts of the television series which were comprehensible to me were precisely those written by Bioy. I appreciated them as creative and innovative even 60 years later. The rest was indeed junk. And yet not a mention of the real source by the tv producers. Shameful

  8. Adam Dalva Adam Dalva says:

    A lean, somewhat remarkable little thing. The much ballyhooed connection with Last Year at Marienbad is fascinating - I never would have thought of it but it's dead on. I don't really know how to explain what this is without spoiling it, but it's an admirable piece of surrealism/sci-fi that stands out for its meticulousness. Every aspect is painstakingly explained (and illustrated!) and what results is a totally logical book. It's fun to try to figure out what is happening alongside the narrator - my favorite section comes when he lays out every possible explanation for the strange events - and I found Casares's disinterest in exposition commendable. The thing that's actually happening is a fairly brilliant literary invention, and the ending is massively on-point. Some nice moments of meta-fiction are sprinkled through, and I totally dug the flower garden sequence (you'll see).

    What's weird, really weird, is despite all this, it's too long. You'll get frustrated with the narrator for not figuring it out sooner. And there are these strange little loops in it that make it read a little too stream-of-consciousnessy (the introduction claims that this is a move away from that particular surrealist trend - I'd argue that some tendrils remain). I see why Borges liked it, but it doesn't remind me of his writing at all.

  9. Lynne King Lynne King says:

    When I first started this novella, I was highly bemused by everything. The nameless narrator from Venezuela, who is living on an island he believes is called Villings and who decides to write a diary of what is happening there. He is unsure how long he has to live. He is a fugitive on the run from justice after being sentenced to life imprisonment. We are never to find out what this crime is, and then an Italian rug merchant in Calcutta tells him about an island:

    There is only one place for a fugitive like you – it is an uninhabited island, but a human being cannot live there. Around 1924 a group of white men built a museum, a chapel, and a swimming pool on the island. (A rather good drawing is shown in the book). The work was completed and then abandoned….. Chinese pirates do not go there, and the white ship of the Rockefeller Institute never calls at the island, because it is known to be the focal point of a mysterious disease, a fatal disease that attacks the outside of the body and then works inward. The nails drop off, the fingers and toes; the hair falls out. The skin and the corneas of the eyes die, and the body lives on for one week, or two at the most.

    And this individual still wants to go there because his life is so unbearable! By this stage I was getting completely annoyed with this book. People started arriving on the island and doing rather odd things. I really couldn’t take the comings and goings any longer and so decided to abandon it.

    Nevertheless, would you believe that I couldn’t stop thinking about the wretched book and started rereading it the following day. Whatever happened I was determined to finish it – I can only compare this to a dog with a bone.

    It’s rather strange but I seemed to view the work in a different light. Perhaps sitting on the terrace in the sun put me in a better state of mind. I really don’t know. I then began to appreciate the book as the story unfolded; actually a love story, but nevertheless a very unusual love story.

    Then one day a group of visitors come to the island. The narrator soon has his gaze fixed on a woman who looks like a gypsy. She sits on a rock and comes every afternoon to watch the sunset. Our narrator is mesmerized by her, cannot get her out of his mind and watches her every day for a week. He even springs out to her one day to surprise her but he may as well have been invisible as she apparently cannot see him. On one of these days she is talking to a man called Morel who calls her Faustine. Ah now our narrator knows the name of his now much beloved one.

    There is much confusion as the narrator doesn’t appear to know if he’s hallucinating at times, is dead or alive, the visitors are dead, images or what. He’s full of angst most of the time being quite convinced that these people on the island are there to capture him and he’s constantly on the run. He also is unsure out of all of these individuals who can see him and who cannot. But surprisingly enough our narrator doesn’t seem at all bothered with the possibility of death from this supposedly dreadful disease. But is there such a disease or is it all an illusion? The answer does indeed lie with an individual called Morel and it transpires that he has created a machine using images from reflections in mirrors. Our narrator cannot understand why he can see and hear Faustine and Morel and the other guests and then a week later this scenario is repeated.

    The descriptive elements are superb, be it the flora on the island or the treacherous tides, that submerge parts of the island; which all add to the structure of the novel.

    And as for the two suns and two moons, I couldn’t fathom this out at all until later in the book. What was interesting to know however is that two suns had been seen before in earlier times by Cicero:

    The two suns that, as I heard from my father, were seen in the Consulate of Tuditanus and Aquilius, in the year (183 B.C) when the sun of Publius Africanus was extinguished.. (This statement appears to be incorrect after looking at other reliable sources but the gist is there.)

    This tour de force had such an unexpected effect on me and to think that I nearly dismissed it arbitrarily. The writing style is second to none and in fact I really don’t know how the author had such an incredible imagination to write this novella. I most certainly want to read his other books.

    Faced with the penultimate page I found myself highly perplexed. How can one possibly describe this multi-faceted, metaphysical, mysterious, surreal and surprising novella? There is so much depth to this work.

    As for the denouement… Well all that can be said is that it wasn’t at all what I expected.

    And finally, thank you Harold for mentioning this book to me in one of your comments on a book by J.L. Borges, Collected Fictions. It’s interesting that they both had this fascination with mirrors and what they can lead to.

  10. Rakhi Dalal Rakhi Dalal says:



    The incomprehensibility of an idea is what makes man delve deeper into it. The more challenging the idea the more fascination it holds. For as long as mankind can remember, the idea of death and immortality has intrigued minds, making man wish to conquer death and to become immortal. Philosophy, science and religion maintain views which suggest some interesting thoughts for contemplation. But since ‘death’ still remains unconquerable, man somehow tries to deceive it by leaving behind works of importance which may perhaps render immortality to the name. In the case of Art it seems even more appropriate. As long as the work of art lives, the name of artist remains immortal.

    This work by Adolfo Bioy Casares, not only deals with a man’s fascination with the idea of immortality and how he tries to achieve it but also with its confrontation with reality. It further poses questions on the possible implications and this is what makes this work so compelling. I would venture to say that even without Borges’ support the work would have stood apart as a distinct work of art whose beauty lies in the remarkably executed plot.

    The protagonist of the story is a fugitive and the story is narrated in first person. The work starts with narrator’s coming to a remote, supposedly disease infected island with no human sign. We are never told the name of the narrator but the name of island is Villings and it has a museum, a chapel and a swimming pool, thought to be constructed by the last inhabitants who abandoned it later because of the disease. After sometime the narrator start noticing people on the island who were not there before and who seemed to have come out of nowhere. Where have they come from? Now this is the deceit which Casares has worked so beautifully with and it is quite well advanced for his times.

    Those people are actually not real but images. Images recorded for a week and then being set up on a big projector working in sync with the ocean tides. But the images are three dimensional like in holography so that they appear real from a distance. The work being undertaken by a man named Morel (interestingly it seems to rhyme with the Greek word ‘Moirai’ which is plural and means ‘fates’). We know of this because in a recorded scene, Morel tells about it to all the people whom he recorded for his experiment. The experiment being to make those people immortal by capturing them and letting them live in a projected world forever.

    Our narrator, who seems to be fascinated with this experiment because he has fallen in love with the image of a woman named Faustine, records all his experiences in a diary and somehow wishes to be a part of the experiment itself to be able to make his presence felt to the woman. But he also posits uncertainty as to the fruitfulness of such endeavor.

    “The case of the inventor who is duped by his own invention emphasizes our need for circumspection. But I may be generalizing about the peculiarities of one man, moralizing about a characteristic that applies only to Morel. I approve of the direction he gave, no doubt unconsciously, to his efforts to perpetuate man: but he has preserved nothing but sensations; and, although his invention was incomplete, he at least foreshadowed the truth: man will one day create human life. His work seems to confirm my old axiom: it is useless to try to keep the whole body alive.”

    The preservation of images without them having any consciousness is different from our reality and hence incomplete. Also further he questions the morality of such endeavors and their consequences, shall man be able to device something successfully, perhaps including consciousness, to remain immortal.

    When minds of greater refinement than Morel's begin to work on the invention, man will select a lonely, pleasant place, will go there with the persons he loves most, and will endure in an intimate paradise. A single garden, if the scenes to be eternalized are recorded at different moments, will contain innumerable paradises, and each group of inhabitants, unaware of the others, will move about simultaneously, almost in the same places, without colliding. But unfortunately these will be vulnerable paradises because the images will not be able to see men; and, if men do not heed the advice of Malthus, someday they will need the land of even the smallest paradise, and will destroy its defenseless inhabitants or will exile them by disconnecting their machines.


    Casares seems to be anticipating the hazard of such scientific inventions which man may undertake to gain immortality in the future. Although we haven’t yet achieved it but the horror of this possibility is not hard to imagine.

    The work also seems to be an ode to the world of movies since Casares was quite fascinated by them while growing up.The idea of capturing images of actors and then playing them over and over again to attain same reality was what held his attention. He is also seemingly fascinated by the idea of cyclic repetition as his literary guide Borges.

    I am quite taken by the power of his writing style and after the strong recommendation of Mike, do look forward to reading more of him.

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