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The Invention Of Morel (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

Adolfo Bioy Casares , Suzanne Jill Levine
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Sep 2003 New York Review Books Classics
Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of The Screw and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Set on a mysterious island, Bioy's novella is a story of suspense and exploration, as well as a wonderfully unlikely romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious.

Inspired by Bioy Casares's fascination with the movie star Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morelhas gone on to live a secret life of its own. Greatly admired by Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz, the novella helped to usher in Latin American fiction's now famous postwar boom. As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet's Last Year in Marienbad, it also changed the history of film.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; First Printing edition (15 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170571
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


A labyrinthine masterpiece about reality and its representation. (Frieze)

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
TODAY, on this island, a miracle happened: summer came ahead of time. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memory/Loss/Projection 12 Aug 2008
By Pablo K
Fantastical fiction of the very best kind, whether you want to call it SF or not. The blurb draws the link to the worlds of Philip K Dick but I was reminded more of The Catcher in Rye, with its confessional and curious diary entries, at least until a pivotal revelation half way through. The narrative turn that follows changes utterly the experience of this book and brings with it a growing and compelling tension. Borges, too, is frequently cited as a companion in fiction, but, once the machinations of Morel become clearer, I was reminded much more of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris, with its intimations of loss and its compulsion to repeat episodes of longing and connection with the slippery spectres of our pasts and imagined futures. Really splendid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Seeking Out 1 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like many sci-fi stories this short book starts with a brilliant concept. The main character is on the run and has escaped to a seemingly abondoned hotel on a deserted island. Here he survives okay until suddenly people start to arrive. Initially he flees and hides from them but soon comes to realise they are totally unable to see or hear him. What distinguishes this story though is the perfectly logical explanation for these events that is slowly revealed. Whilst many such tales have pretty lame, unexplained or purely ridiculous reasons for their bizarre beginnings "The Invention of Morel" never wavers from it's clear and precise plot and it's implications are rather profound.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A small gem 20 July 2004
"Dreamlike" is a disconcerting word when used to praise a work of art. "The dream has nothing to communicate to anyone else... and is for that reason totally uninteresting for other people" pronounced Freud, whose famous work on oneiromancy was based on his own dreams - perhaps thus proving his own point. Anyone who has been bored at a party by a detailed description of a weird/freaky/astonishing dream of utter banality will concur. "Dreamlike", when used to describe art, is usually shorthand for "boring and impenetrable but vague enough to perhaps seem artistic."
The invention of Morel, however, deserves the reclamation of "dreamlike" as a word of unambiguous praise. Adolfo Bioy Cesares is somewhat in the shadow of Borges, his great friend, in the South American literary canon. They collaborated on detective novels various other projects; Borges once called Bioy (as he was universally known), 15 years his younger, his "secret master" for helping to lead him from Baroque overwrought prose to a leaner, Classical style. Suzanne Jill Levine, in a perceptive introduction that pleasingly doesn't reveal any of the secrets of the narrative to follow, observes that Borges meant this in a double sense; the great Anglophile was well aware of the meaning of "master" as a designation for a young boy.
Borges, for his part, led Bioy away from an over-suffusion with Surrealism and Joycean stream-of-consciousness. In this volume, Borges' "prologue", really an introduction, is a defence of the fantastic in literature. Like the prefaces to his own collections, it is an understated mini-essay steeped in the familiar erudition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 21 Dec 2013
By eel
A great book with a fine, original plot. Tightly written, expertly translated, thought provoking, thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended. Do read A Reading Diary (Manguel)for lots of background on the author and the book.
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