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The Invention Of Morel (La Invención de Morel) by Adolfo Bioy Casares

Literary Cocktailers Book Club

Modern Strange Fiction

September 2019

“I do not believe that a dream should necessarily be taken for reality, or reality for madness.”

Translated from its original Spanish, The Invention of Morel transcended both time and culture to be a sweeping success among LCBCers. Arguably, this inspired fiction truly began Casares’ literary career despite being his seventh book. Although it was written in 1940, the book remains incredibly relevant to modern readers. As an examination of humanity, isolation, and technology, it is no wonder that the creators if the hit T.V. show, Lost, drew inspiration from this timeless classic.

The primary theme discussed during the meet-up was: perception versus reality. When a reclusive man on a deserted island is unable to connect with sudden visitors, the fugitive is unable to understand what is happening around him. Then, with the realization that Morel’s invention had implanted only the recorded images of people onto the island (not real beings), the man must come to terms with his reality--that everything is a fiction, including the woman he loves.

LCBCers contemplated the following quote and questions:

To be on an island inhabited by artificial ghosts was the most unbearable of nightmare; to be in love with one of those images was worse than being in love with a ghost (perhaps we always want the person we love to have the existence of a ghost)."

Qs: What does Casares mean by this? How is this relevant to our current society? If it’s so terrible to fall in love with an image, why is it that people still do it? How can people fall in love with someone they do not know?

The group felt that this quote and its core theme of falling in love with a stranger through images, was directly connected to modern social media and infatuation with people and their lives without knowing them in real life. Facebook, Instagram, and the like, allow us to peek inside the world of others without having to deal with the messy details not suitable for social media. However, like the fugitive, many fall victim to the “unbearable nightmare” of being surrounded by only hollow relationships. What do you think? Is social media a blessing or a curse?


Reader Reactions

  1. The book was super creative and weird, in the BEST way.

  2. It is truly one of those classics that remains relevant no matter how much time has passed.

  3. The book felt painfully relatable.

Our Consensus: THUMBS UP!

Other Contenders for Modern Strange Fiction

  • The City and The City [China Miéville]

  • The Teleportation Accident [Ned Beauville]

  • Sudden Death [Álvaro Enrigue]

  • Annihilation [Jeff VanderMeer]

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