The Invention of Morel
by Adolfo Bioy Casares, introduction by Suzanne Jill Levine, prologue by Jorge Luis Borges, translated from the Spanish by Ruth L.C. Simms
Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of The Screw and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Set on a mysterious island, Bioy’s novella is a story of suspense and exploration, as well as a wonderfully unlikely romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious.
Inspired by Bioy Casares’s fascination with the movie star Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morel has gone on to live a secret life of its own. Greatly admired by Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz, the novella helped to usher in Latin American fiction’s now famous postwar boom. As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year in Marienbad, it also changed the history of film.
A masterfully paced and intellectually daring plot. Like the best science fiction, of which this is an exemplar, Bioy's themes have become ever more relevant to a society beholden to image. It is this keenness of thought and expression that buttresses Borges's claim of the novella's perfection.
— The Times
The Argentine Adolfo Bioy Casares is an urban comedian, a parodist who turns fantasy and science fiction inside out to expose the banality of our scientific, intellectual, and especially erotic pretensions. Bioy makes us laugh at our foibles with an affectionate yet elegant touch....Behind his post-Kafka, pre-Woody Allen sense of nonsense is a metaphysical vision, particularly of life's brevity and the slippery terrain of love.
— Suzanne Jill Levine
The Invention of Morel may be described, without exaggeration, as a perfect novel....Bioy Casares's theme is not cosmic, but metaphysical: the body is imaginary, and we bow to the tyranny of a phantom. Love is a privileged perception, 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.
— Octavio Paz