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The Invention of Morel (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 103 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (August 31, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170571
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The masterpiece among Bioy Casares' short, intense novels is The Invention of Morel, a book that won raves from Borges (who placed it alongside Franz Kafka's The Trial), was called "perfect" by Octavio Paz, and inspired one of French cinema's most infamous moviesf, Last Year at Marienbad (1961). Though it was published in 1940, the book's continuing relevance was recently proven when it was featured on Lost — a cameo many viewers perceive as a key to that TV show's plot. But that doesn't mean this is a tough tract unfit for quality beach time... Just know that Morel is a poetic evocation of the experience of love, an inquiry into how we know one another, and a still-relevant examination of how technology has changed our relationship with reality. It's also a great read — one you'll be pressing into the hands of your fellow beach-goers." --Boldtype

About the Author

Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914-1999) was born in Buenos Aires, the child of wealthy parents. He began to write in the early Thirties, and his stories appeared in the influential magazine Sur, through which he met his wife, the painter and writer Silvina Ocampo, as well Jorge Luis Borges, who was to become his mentor, friend, and collaborator. In 1940, after writing several novice works, Bioy published the novella The Invention of Morel, the first of his books to satisfy him, and the first in which he hit his characteristic note of uncanny and unexpectedly harrowing humor. Later publications include stories and novels, among them A Plan for Escape, A Dream of Heroes, and Asleep in the Sun (forthcoming from NYRB Classics). Bioy also collaborated with Borges on an Anthology of Fantastic Literature and a series of satirical sketches written under the pseudonym of H. Bustos Domecq. Suzanne Jill Levine is the author of numerous studies in Latin American literature and the translator of works by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Manuel Puig, among other distinguished writers. Levine's most recent book is Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions. She is a professor in the Spanish Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Customer Reviews

It is encouraging when someone like Borges- the fantasist - recommends it.
A. Anderson
If you like science fiction or magic realism or books that make you think while you use your imagination, then I highly recommend this.
Janice Stevenson
I cannot say much more without giving away the delightful point of the story.
Roger Brunyate

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Gulley Jimson on December 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book because of the rather extravagant praise from Borges and Paz. Apparently it was inspired by the silent film star Louise Brooks, which makes sense: the entire book is about our capacity to love phantoms. All of us probably remember early infatuations with celebrities who never existed for us as anything but reproductions: on paper, televisions, the movie screen.
Essentially, this book imagines what happens when the reproductions become faithful enough to be indistinguishable from the real thing. It is narrated by a man hiding from the police on a deserted island for an undisclosed crime. One day people appear, and the man quickly falls in love with one of the women; strangely enough, they often disappear for short stretches of time, and seem to repeat the same conversations and actions again and again.
All of this is well-written, but when the explanation is given, all that preceded seems to have been time spent waiting for the a-ha twist: it's only after this point that the book becomes really interesting. I won't give away the story, because the plot is worth getting through yourself: let me mention something that it reminded me of, though.
When Apocalypse Now: Redux came out, they restored scenes of Martin Sheen's brief love affair with a French woman on the river, a storyline completely left out of the original cut. The actress, now an old woman, went to the theatres and saw herself young and beautiful again. And something about her youth is now eternal, or at least as eternal as film proves to be.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By lili on July 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
The cover picture and the blurb on the back indicate that Louise Brooks had something to do with it all....And so, knowing this, I brought what I knew of LB to my reading of 'The Invention of Morel'. As a result, I don't find fault with the character development (as other reviews here do) - why should I? This tale is about the elusive nature of beauty, the mystery of cinema, the hard to pin down quality of a great silent movie actress. To imagine what the narrator experiences - the coming to life of someone who's charisma and beauty resembles that of Louise Brooks - against the backdrop of a strange island, the eerie repetitious jazz music on the phonograph, the at once lush and deadened landscape - is descriptive enough. The narrator never knows the characters - Half-crazed, he doesn't even know himself! This is an absolutely brilliant, highly atmospheric tale.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John J. Coyne on July 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
A character who could be straight out of Borges's "Universal History of Iniquities" takes refuge from the law on a deserted tropical island where he witnesses some pretty strange stuff (I'm trying to be vague here). What seems to begin as the story of a man's slow descent into paranoia turns into what seems like a ghost story before eventually becoming something entirely different - something that could have sprung from the mind of Gene Wolfe or Philip K. Dick on a good day.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By nemo galletti on August 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
This novel is a metaphor about interpersonal communications, and tells about the transformation of an individual trying to be accepted by a society to which -initially- he doesn't belong. It is based on a wonderful idea, that in my opinion is enough to classify this book as a masterpiece, even if the writing style is not particularly rich. The book has two different layers: its appearance and its not-openly disclosed messages. The appearance is an intriguing novel based on a sci-fi type of idea: a fugitive man escapes to an island populated by people that are totally not interested in him. His initial fear and attempts to hide from them slowly transforms into his desperate wish to interact with them, pushing him up to the final limit when, understood that the people are inanimate, endless cyclic tridimensional representation of a party that happened years before (and that, due to the radiations ejected by the special movie camera used, lead to the death of their actors) the man sacrifice his own life by simulating being one of the group, filming himself with the special cameras and preparing to die for that.
This may be read as a metaphor of the compromises that we accept in order to be part of a society: in the end our feelings, our dreams, our goals are only representations and, when we are finally part of it, our individuality expires.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan Harlow on July 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
There is a strange, lingering loneliness to this novel that is really intriguing. I kept thinking about how it is sometimes when you walk into a room full of people who all know each other and are having a conversation that you know nothing about - how you feel out of slip from everyone, detached and a little crazed to get caught up with your surroundings.

The images in the novel are even more extraordinary: people in 1920's formal dress dancing on the grassy hillside in the summer evening to the music of a distant phonograph, two suns rising and setting overhead each day, the erratic tides, strange machines in the basement.

But more than anything is the narrator's desire to be with the mysterious Faustine. His solution at the end of the story is perfect and also sadly touching. I kept thinking about those lonely people you see on the internet who badly photoshop themselves into pictures of more interesting situations or with people they've never actually met.

Overall the novel deals with the nostalgia for a time that never really existed but which our memories have tricked us into believing are real. You could say that the process our narrator goes through is a literal interpretation of what our own brain does when, given enough time, it alters our memory of past events and paints a more pleasing image. If you could study the phenomena of lost memory under the microscope you might see one scene slowly dissolve away into nothingness and you might even be a little frightened by the whole process, too.

This one will stay with me for awhile (I hope).
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