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The Invention of Morel

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  16,765 ratings  ·  1,472 reviews
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
Paperback, NYRB Classics, 103 pages
Published August 31st 2003 by New York Review Books (first published 1940)
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Glenn Russell
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing

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
Bill Kerwin
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: weird-fiction

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
Mutasim Billah
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: argentina
"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 friendsh
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Unrequited Love
Recommended to s.penkevich by: The Borges effect
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
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who are fearless of unknown chambers in mind
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, eart
Ahmad Sharabiani
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 writ
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spanish-american
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, wit
Adam Dalva
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Lynne King
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 fu
Rakhi Dalal
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-realism

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 im
Sep 11, 2008 rated it liked it
am i jackass? a moron?

this is a perfectly good book. and a guy spending months on a sun dappled island amongst three dimensional phantoms re-enacting a single weekend is sublime. but this:

“the most complete and total perception not only of the unreality of the world but of our own unreality: not only do we traverse a realm of shadows, we ourselves are shadows.”

that’s octavio paz. and paz is a badasss. a serious badass. and borges – maybe the biggest badass that has ever lived – called this nove
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A surrealistic story with perfect execution. I am captivated by the setting and protagonist's inner conflicts. Me! A shallow reader who enjoy cheap thrilling of pulp fictions enjoyed a Latin American literature work! That's how good Casares's writing skill is.
Mystery has big part on the story, so even it is a well known literature, I don't want to say much about the plot. But I can say the atmosphere alone is a perfect example of surrealism of early 20th century. I can't help myself imagining t
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Perhaps we always want the person we love to have the existence of a ghost.”

The Invention of Morel is a deceptively slender novella, one which examines weighty psychological and philosophical concerns with great tenderness, delicacy and melancholy grace. It covers much intriguing ground; topics under discussion include solitude, love, the desire for immortality, and the ways in which human beings relate and grow attached to one another. While technically satisfying the requirements of inven
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"η εφευρεση του Μορελ", ή αλλιως πως γραφεται ενα αριστουργημα σε 150 σελιδες.απλα εκπληκτικο.Σκοτεινο, πρωτοτυπο, φιλοσοφικο, αγωνιωδες.ΑΨΟΓΟ! διαβαστε το!

"LOST", i see what you did there...😂😱
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yeahhhh-bioy
What a great little book!

Casares comes as close here as a writer possibly could to successfully mixing literary fiction with elements of science fiction. I feel like there is very little that I can say about the plot without spoiling it. Over the first thirty pages I was convinced that this was merely a ghost story – more specifically the ghost story that inspired Shyamalan’s whole “I see dead people” thing. Casares totally surprised me at that point by taking the story in a direction that I ha
Apr 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Floating Reviews and the Television Show Lost

I just went through my update feed looking to see what my friends have been doing. I see reviews and things I should pay some attention to, but I'm not quite that self-reflexive yet that I will write reviews only about what I'm doing at the moment on Instead I would like to make an observation of how my update feed mirrors this book.

For the past few days just about every morning and early evening that I chec
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Since today is Valentine's Day, let's do a photo spamming for one of the most romantic novels I've ever read, The Invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares.

I'll spam this review of mine with a movie which is closely related to Morel, this movie is the most mysterious, elegant and romantic movie I've ever watched, Last Year At Marienbad, directed by Alain Resnais.

Movie Trailer on Youtube:

Actual book review here:

I would have given thi
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I see Faustine....

....but she doesn't see me.

I speak, halting, tortured words....

....but her gaze never shifts.

I build her a garden, a hint of my love....

....but she walks through it.

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____

I hold the glass by the stem, hard against the table. My wrist works, making the liquid swirl. I breathe it in. So often, I miss the notes. I guess wrong. I keep quiet at tastings.

So here.

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____

No, that won't do.

Let me tell you of my wrong guesses and dead ends.

I t
Stephen P
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it

In order for this novel to work the groundwork had to be situated early and deftly, the author’s voice sculpted within the fictions flow. At first the slowness, repetitiveness earned the book a 2 star rating and my reading ability a one lone lonely star. Okay, maybe a two but the last in pieces and I had to glue it together. Then I waited for it to dry. Impatient waiting I decided it best to give the novella up. There is a condition where the ribs become inflamed as does the lower back. Bre
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-fiction, americas
I read this as it was short and I needed a break from a rather difficult history book. It was an interesting read to say the least. I came to the end and thought that it was maybe an analogy for purgatory or something to do with being in a state of dying. Then I read the wiki and a few reviews and can only say “What would I know?” Not much.
Nancy Oakes
At 103 pages, one would think this book would be a very easy read, but that just isn't the case. It demands a second read (which I did) and probably a third (which I didn't do); its brevity belies the great depth that the author has brought to this story.

There's not much I can say here without giving away the twist in this book, so this post will be a short one. Casares has combined a number of different elements here that together don't really allow for The Invention of Morel to be pigeonholed
My rating for this is higher than my reading experience warrants, this is because i liked the story a lot despite the awful translation job by 'Ruth Simms' (see this great little article for more details ). I'm convinced therefore that i would have given this score if the translation had been good.
Anyway this is a relatively short novel about a man on the run who decides to hide out on an island said to be the source of a deadly disease. On the island he
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
The first thing to say about The Invention of Morel is that the narrative flow is (mostly) excellent. Bioy creates a haunting, lonely, mysterious story, with creepy undertones, that compels you to read on. There are certain parts of the story I just couldn't buy as literal - nor could they be passed-off as surreal - so I think the book is best interpreted as something of an allegory; a contemplation of mortality and a kind of idealised love.

I didn't find the philosophical and metaphysical impli
MJ Nicholls
Lacking in the satirical surrealism found in his later (and some say lesser) NYRB book Asleep in the Sun, unfortunately this one failed to sustain my attention despite forty pages of anticipatory eagerness. The narrator, nameless, mooches around an island spying on a gypsy woman and is evicted from her presence by bearded Frenchmen. Naturally, she is beautiful, naturally he falls in love with her, then something happens to do with photographs and people dying and I didn’t understand most of it, ...more
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
How can I say anything without spoiling the book? A romantic mystery set on a deserted(not) island. Questions (but doesn't really answer) the nature of life, death and the soul.

Borges thinks that calling The Invention of Morel perfect "is neither an imprecision nor a hyperbole" (I disagree), and that should be enough reason for you to give this book a shot.
Aug 04, 2010 rated it liked it
I wish I hadn’t read the back of The Invention of Morel before I read the novel. Once I read that Borges, Paz, etc. loved this book I felt like I had to like it. Too much pressure.

Fortunately, I think the The Invention of Morel is strong enough that I would have been a fan without any background knowledge. The book is narrated by a fugitive marooned on an island to which the tides carried him after his escape. A house, chapel, and museum occupy the otherwise-deserted island. Soon, however, peop
Nora Dillonovich
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysterioso
This is the kind of book one reads from cover to cover in one sitting (or before bed, and then finishes on the bus in the morning). This is true for a variety of reasons: the length, the mystery evoked in the first twenty or so pages, and the pacing of the narration for the last half.

The narration is haunting, the island where the action (the endless, repetitive action), the events transpire, is eerie, somewhat vague.
The Love (the emotion or obsession or sentiment or consuming need- I dont kno
Vit Babenco
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Invention of Morel is a very specific tale on the nature of time and our perception of it. A lonely man beached on a deserted island populated with ghosts arrested in time and living a fragment of their lives again and again - there is something morbid in the story.
I also watched a movie adaptation by Italian director Emidio Greco and it is the only case when I appreciated the film even more than a book.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, completely original and demands a second and third reading. I understand why Borges was over the moon about this novella. Now I want to watch all of the movies that this story spawned.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bitchin
I misread ‘the intimate forms of address’ as ‘the intimate forms of sadness,’ and liked it much better. I could recite word-for-word, without the book in my hand, but now, as I read it, I make mistakes. Before I found the book I spent a long time looking at photographs, studying them. I would stare at the faces and try to gauge their mood. Who amongst them were happy? Those who are smiling? That seems obvious, of course; but who can say with any certainty? You cannot know anyone but yourself. Fi ...more
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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 ...more

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