RoosterVision: Adolfo Bioy Casares’s THE INVENTION OF MOREL (New York Review Books Classics, 2003)

An ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media.

…an ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media that we at Rooster Republic Press find ourselves enjoying. Once a week, on Thursdays, we will showcase new and old works and, hopefully, help spread the word on great stuff you might otherwise miss out on.

RoosterVision was previously the name of our non-fiction imprint, and since those titles and that line of books are no longer, we have decided to resurrect RoosterVision for the purpose of this showcase. Enjoy!

In the sixth entry in our “RoosterVision” series, we take a look at Adolfo Bioy Casares’s novella, THE INVENTION OF MOREL. New York Review Books published this edition as part of their “Classics” line in 2003, though the book is much older than that, both Adolfo’s original and this particular translation, courtesy of Ruth L. C. Simms. There is a “new” intro from Suzanne Jill Levine, a professor and author who specializes in Latin American lit. The book also retains the original introduction written by friend and mentor to Casares, Jorge Luis Borges.

Borges hailed the slim novel as nothing short of a masterpiece.

Perhaps our favorite quote concerning the book comes from Octavio Paz, who claimed the book “…may be described, without exaggeration, as a perfect novel…”

Is it a “perfect” novel? If not, then it is in our opinion that THE INVENTION OF MOREL is pretty damned close. And let us say, if you want to read a science-fiction narrative that is wound as tight as a top, and to have it’s mysteries unspoiled, then avoid the next few paragraphs and seek out THE INVENTION OF MOREL. Fans of speculative sci-fi, like the works of Philip K. Dick, will find much to savor.

The story itself has its roots in genre fiction, most explicitly THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU. However, for Casares’s exercise in science-run-amok, he substitutes H.G. Wells’s Moreau for Morel. But it isn’t human-animal hybrids occupying Morel’s little island. Doctor Morel seemed interested in capturing time itself, perhaps the human soul, creating reproductions of entire days, maybe even months. And, as the book’s narrator works to uncover the mysteries of the island, he finds himself falling in love with Faustine, one of Morel’s reproductions.

Casares was inspired, in part, by the actress Louise Brooks. Specifically, he saw her career in decline juxtaposed with her existing body of work, not unlike Morel’s test subjects, who existed outside of time, frozen and doomed to repeat themselves, while the living body perishes. Casares was fascinated with Brooks, but like the character Faustine, she may as well have existed in another dimension.

And that is about all one should really divulge of the novel. We implore you, dear readers, to give THE INVENTION OF MOREL a chance. It’s a wonderful one-sitting read. Our advice is, as always, to get a copy from your local bookstore or from a nearby library. However, we know that this isn’t always feasible, so we offer the following links to online retail:

Buy it on Thriftbooks.

Buy it on Amazon.

Thanks for reading, as always, and please remember…

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