Adolfo Bioy Casares Bioy Casares, Adolfo (Vol. 88) - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Adolfo Bioy Casares 1914–

(Also wrote under the pseudonyms Martín Sacastru and Javier Miranda; joint pseudonyms with Jorge Luis Borges include H[onorio] Bustos Domecq, B. Lynch Davis, and B. Suárez Lynch) Argentine novelist, short story writer, essayist, memoirist, and screenwriter.

The following entry presents an overview of Bioy Casares's career through 1995. For further information on his life and works, see CLC, Volumes 4, 8, and 13.

Chiefly regarded for highly imaginative tales, Bioy Casares blends elements of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery writing to comment on social and political conditions in Argentina as well as broader themes concerning love, identity, perception, and human nature. His complex and at times surreal plots frequently incorporate such elements and devices of fantastic fiction as time travel, invisibility, extrasensory perception, oneiric images, and metamorphosis. Frequently compared to fellow Argentine novelist Jorge Luis Borges, a long-time friend and collaborator, Bioy Casares is recognized as one of Argentina's—and the Spanish-speaking world's—best and most innovative writers.

Biographical Information

Bioy Casares was born in Buenos Aires to wealthy parents. His father, a published memoirist, frequently read gaucho epics to Bioy Casares when he was a boy, and at an early age he began to compose stories and poetry that reveal a fascination with the supernatural. Bioy Casares's first published work, Prológo (1929; Prologue), appeared when he was only 15; edited by his father, the volume was published at his parents' expense. One of the most significant events of Bioy Casares's life was meeting Jorge Luis Borges at the home of Victoria Ocampo, a fiction writer and publisher of the literary magazine Sur. Despite their age difference—Borges was fifteen years older than Bioy Casares—the meeting initiated what would become a life-long friendship and professional partnership. Borges's encouragement led Bioy Casares to transfer from the study of law to philosophy and literature and, ultimately, to choose writing as a career. Rejecting the then-prevalent historical approach to literary criticism, the pair founded a magazine of avant-garde criticism called Destiempo (Out of Time) in 1936. While the periodical did not remain in circulation long, it led to Bioy Casares and Borges's collaboration on a variety of other projects, including anthologies of Argentine fantastic fiction, detective stories, and their favorite gaucho poetry; a volume of quotes and epigrams by popular writers from classical to modern times; and such popular works as Seis problemas para Don Isidro Parodi (1942; Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi) and Crónicas de Bustos Domecq (1967; Chronicles of Bustos Domecq). Discussing the nature of their relationship, Borges has stated: "[Bioy Casares and I] met in 1930 or 1931, when he was seventeen and I was just past thirty. It is always taken for granted in these cases that the older man is the master and the younger his disciple. This may have been true at the outset, but several years later, when we began to work together, Bioy was really and secretly the master." Bioy Casares's first major work of fiction, La invención de Morel (The Invention of Morel), was published to critical acclaim in 1940. That same year he married Silvina Ocampo, with whom he later collaborated on several projects, including the detective novel Los que aman, odian (1946). A prolific writer and a major figure in his homeland and abroad, Bioy Casares has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1941 Premio Municipal de la Cuidad de Buenos Aires for The Invention of Morel, the 1969 Premio Nacional for El gran serafin (1967), and the 1986 Premio Internacional Literario IILA (Rome) for the short story collections Historias fantásticas (1972) and Historias de amor (1972). Bioy Casares continues to work and reside in Buenos Aires.

Major Works

Bioy Casares's interest in the relationship between dreams, fantasy, and reality appears in his most famous work, The Invention of Morel. Largely influenced by H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau (1876), the novella is set on a nearly deserted island and concerns a man who falls in love with what is eventually revealed to be a holographic image of a woman. Employing Bioy Casares's trademark techniques of concise dialogue, brief sentences, and an omniscient narrator who comments on events about which the protagonist is unaware, The Invention of Morel is considered a satirical examination of the nature of love and the role of the artist in contemporary society. In Plan de evasión (1945; A Plan for Escape), which is likewise set on a island, Enrique Nevers attempts to observe the activities of the French governor stationed on nearby Devil's Island prison. This highly metaphoric and metafictional novella centers on Nevers's changing perceptions and the disparity between what he knows and what is actually taking place; the governor, in fact, is overseeing a surgical experiment that produces permanent synesthesia in prisoners on the island. Bioy Casares's focus on appearances and reality is heightened by his use of an unreliable—and potentially insane—narrator and an epistolary structure. Surgery that yields personality changes and the use of letters as a narrative device are also central to Dormir al sol (1973; Asleep in the Sun). In other works, such as the novel Diario de la guerra del cerdo (1969; Diary of the War of the Pig) and the short story collection Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi, Bioy Casares includes a focus on Argentine politics and society as subplots to the major drama. Commenting on the treatment of the elderly in the twentieth century, Diary of the War of the Pig is set in Argentina in the near future and concerns the massacre of senior citizens by gangs of adolescents. Inspired in part by actual events of World War II, the eponymous protagonist of Bioy Casares and Borges's Six Problems solves crimes from a prison cell, having been framed for a murder committed by a police clerk. Incorporating elements of traditional and nontraditional detective fiction, Six Problems is known as a highly experimental text dealing with issues of referentiality and signification. Chronicles of Bustos Domecq was also written with Borges and has been described by Clarence Brown as "sheer nonsensical hilarity." The collection features vignettes and essays on a variety of fictitious writers and artists, and is dedicated to such great modernist icons as Pablo Picasso, Charles-Edouard Le Courbusier, and James Joyce. Love, magic, obsession, and deception are central to two of Bioy Casares's other novels: the mystery El sueño de los heroes (1954; The Dream of Heroes), which has been noted for its allusions to the myth of Oedipus; and the mystical and disjointed La aventura de un fotógrafo en La Plata (1985; The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata).

Critical Reception

Publishers of Bioy Casares's collaborative works with Borges have tended to emphasize Borges's authorship, and much of the critical regard paid to these works and, by extension, to Bioy Casares in general is related to Borges's renown. Bioy Casares's incorporation of themes and motifs found in the works of H. G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, G. K. Chesterton, and Edgar Allan Poe have also overshadowed his success at times. Recent studies of Bioy Casares's fiction, however, praise his inventive plots, sardonic humor, and concise language. The Invention of Morel, for example, is generally considered a minor masterpiece and an exemplary model of fantastic fiction, and Bioy Casares continues to be lauded for his use of surrealism and the postmodernist focus of his work on issues of textuality, spatiality, identity, and perception. As T. J. Lewis has noted: "Although Bioy Casares may not have achieved the worldwide significance of his compatriot Jorge Luis Borges, he is one of the best of Argentina's writers."

Principal Works

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Prólogo [Prologue] (short stories and essays) 1929
Diecisiete disparos contra lo porvenir [Seventeen Shots against the Future] [as Martín Sacastru] (short stories) 1933
Caos (short stories) 1934
La nueva tormenta; o, La vide múltiple de Juan Ruteno (short fiction) 1935
Antología de la literatura fantástica [The Book of Fantasy] [editor with Silvina Ocampo and Jorge Luis Borges] (anthology) 1940; enlarged edition, 1965
La invención de Morel [The Invention of Morel] (novella) 1940
Antología poética argentina [editor with Silvina Ocampo and Jorge Luis Borges] (anthology) 1941
Seis problemas para Don Isidro Parodi [Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi] [with Jorge Luis Borges under joint pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq] (short stories) 1942
El perjurio de la nieve [The Perjury of Snow] (short stories) 1944
Plan de evasión [A Plan for Escape] (novella) 1945
Dos fantasías memorables [with Jorge Luis Borges under the joint pseudonym of Bustos Domecq] (short stories) 1946
Los que aman, odian [with Silvina Ocampo] (novel) 1946
Un modelo para la muerte [with Jorge Luis Borges under the joint pseudonym of B. Suárez Lynch] (short stories) 1946
La trama celeste (short stories) 1948
El sueño de los heroes [The Dream of Heroes] (novel) 1954
Historia prodigiosa (short stories) 1956; enlarged edition, 1961
Guirnalda con amores: Cuentos (short stories and aphorisms) 1959
El lado de la sombra (short stories) 1962
Crónicas de Bustos Domecq [Chronicles of Bustos Domecq] [with Jorge Luis Borges] (sketches) 1967
El gran serafín (short stories) 1967
La otra aventura (criticism and nonfiction) 1968
Diario de la guerra del cerdo [Diary of the War of the Pig] (novel) 1969
Invasion [with Jorge Luis Borges and Hugo Santiago] (screenplay) 1969
Cuentos breves y extraordinarios [Extraordinary Tales] [editor with Jorge Luis Borges] (anthology) 1971
Historias de amor (short stories) 1972
Historias fantásticas (short stories) 1972
Dormir al sol [Asleep in the Sun] (novel) 1973
Les autres [with Jorge Luis Borges and Hugo Santiago] (screenplay) 1974
Nuevos cuentos de Bustos Domecq [with Jorge Luis Borges] (short stories) 1977
El héroe de las mujeres (short stories) 1978
La aventura de un fotógrafo en La Plata [The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata] (novel) 1985
Historias desaforadas (short stories) 1987
Una muñeca rusa [A Russian Doll, and Other Stories] (short stories) 1991
Memorias: Infancia, adolescencia y cómo se hace un escritor (memoirs) 1994
Selected Stories (short stories) 1994

∗Translations of La trama celeste and La invención de Morel were published together as The Invention of Morel, and Other Stories from "La trama celeste" in 1964.

Haskel Frankel (review date 15 November 1964)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stories from Three Worlds," in The New York Times Book Review, November 15, 1964, pp. 62-3.

[An American theater critic, Frankel has worked for the Saturday Evening Post, National Observer, and the New York Times. He is also a screenwriter and has collaborated on books with such noted entertainers as Uta Hagen and Milton Berle. In the following excerpt, he describes the short fiction in The Invention of Morel, and Other Stories as imaginative though hindered by reliance on a single narrative technique.]

[The Invention of Morel, and Other Stories by Adolfo Bioy Casares contains] the novella, The Invention of Morel (which won...

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Solomon H. Tilles (review date December 1965)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Invention of Morel, and Other Stories (from "La trama celeste"), in Hispania, Vol. XLVIII, No. 4, December, 1965, p. 944.

[An American educator, Tilles is the author of two textbooks, Voces y vistas: Active Spanish for Beginners (1970) and Puntos de vista: Voces de España e Hispano-America (1971). In the following excerpt, he discusses The Invention of Morel, and Other Stories as a work evincing imagination, but laments the structural and thematic similarities of the tales in the collection.]

[The Invention of Morel and Other Stories (from "La trama celeste")] is a very welcome addition to the growing list of...

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Martin Levin (review date 28 January 1973)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Diary of the War of the Pig, in The New York Times Book Review, January 28, 1973, p. 34.

[In the following review, Levin favorably comments on Diary of the War of the Pig.]

[In Diary of the War of the Pig a senior citizen] of Buenos Aires, Isidro Vidal, realizes one day that his old friends are being massacred. One by one, the companions of his nightly card game are clubbed to death, shot, pitched off the bleachers of a football stadium, flung into bonfires. Nor is the slaughter restricted to Isidro's cafe cronies alone. An old peoples' home is bombed, and the elderly everywhere are waylaid.

What links the violence is...

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Alfred J. Mac Adam (essay date 1977)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Adolfo Bioy Casares: Satire and Self-portrait," and "Adolfo Bioy Casares: The Lying Compass," in Modern Latin American Narratives: The Dreams of Reason, The University of Chicago Press, 1977, pp. 29-36, pp. 37-43.

[In the following excerpt, Mac Adam discusses The Invention of More] and A Plan for Escape as examinations into the nature of metaphor and the relationship between text, author, and audience.]

Bioy Casares in Morel creates a series of linked metaphors to describe the transformation of a man into an artist and, finally, the artist into art. Like Machado, Bioy uses the first-person narrator, but unlike the Brazilian, he delineates...

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Peter S. Prescott (review date 27 November 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "In the Soul Trade," in Newsweek, Vol. XCII, No. 22, November 27, 1978, p. 108.

[Prescott is an American critic, educator, and prominent journalist. His Soundings: Encounters with Contemporary Books (1972) examines several books published in the mid-1960s through early 1970s. In the following review, he offers a highly negative assessment of Asleep in the Sun.]

[Asleep in the Sun is] a further impediment to our understanding of Latin American civilization. Adolfo Bioy Casares, a prominent Argentine novelist and sometime collaborator of Jorge Luis Borges, has written what I can only describe as a fussy horror story with a science-fiction twist at...

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T. J. Lewis (review date Winter 1980)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Asleep in the Sun, in World Literature Today, Vol. 54, No. 1, Winter, 1980, p. 83.

[In the following excerpt, Lewis comments favorably on Asleep in the Sun.]

Adolfo Bioy Casares first came to the attention of the English-reading public as a collaborator with Jorge Luis Borges in such works as Extraordinary Tales and Chronicles of Bustos Domecq. Since that time—the early 1970s—he has risen to prominence as a literary figure apart from Borges. His importance, however, does not nearly equal that of Borges, although he should not for that reason be passed over without consideration.

Asleep in the Sun,...

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Ronald Christ (review date March 1980)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Acts of Translation," in Partisan Review, Vol. XLVII, No. 3, March, 1980, pp. 476-81.

[An American educator and critic, Christ is the author of The Narrow Act: Borges' Art of Allusion (1969) and has contributed to the critical collections The Cardinal Points of Borges (1971) and Prose for Borges (1972). In addition, he and Gregory Kolovakos have translated into English two works by Peruvian novelist and short story writer Mario Vargas Llosa. In the following excerpt, Christ comments on the complex narrative structure of A Plan for Escape.]

In contrast to [a] "hot" text, which outrages our sensibilities and aesthetics, Bioy-Casares's "cool"...

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M. E. Cossio (essay date Otoño 1980–Invierno 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Parody on Literariness: Seis problemas para Don Isidro Parodi," in Dispositio, Vols. V-VI, Nos. 15-16, Otoño, 1980–Invierno, 1981, pp. 143-53.

[In the essay below, Cossio claims that Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi parodies literary convention and the reading and writing processes on several levels. Cossio also examines how this work is influenced by other literary texts and historical events and figures.]

In 1942, H. Bustos Domecq was born in Argentina and immediately published his first book, Seis problemas para don Isidro Parodi. Far from being supernatural, this amazing happening was the natural result of the united effort of...

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John Sturrock (review date 29 March 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Argentine Detective and English Jockey," in The New York Times Book Review, March 29, 1981, pp. 3, 29.

[Sturrock is the author of Paper Tigers: The Ideal Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges (1977). In the following review, he describes Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi as an entertaining example of detective fiction.]

It is a brave moment in the literary annals of a nation when it gives birth to its first indigenous private eye. Until it does, local devotees of the murder story must endure the indignity—to say nothing of the expense—of having their sleuths shipped in from abroad and then perfunctorily translated into the vernacular, where they...

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Alan Cheuse (review date 5 May 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Confused and Accused: Poe-etic Borges," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 5, 1981, p. 5.

[Cheuse is an American novelist, short story writer, and critic. In the following mixed review, he maintains that Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi holds little interest for a general audience and is of greatest value to the Borges scholar.]

For the self-selected few, here is vintage Borges from the cellars of E. P. Dutton, part of a plan to publish in English translation all of the major Borges. Nearly 40 years old, [Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi] contains the first collaborative effort between Borges and his fellow Argentinian Adolfo Bioy-Casares,...

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John Spurling (review date 12 June 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Prison-Cell Detective," in The Times Literary Supplement, No. 4080, June 12, 1981, p. 672.

[Born in Kenya, Spurling is playwright and critic. In the following excerpt, he provides a negative assessment of Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi.]

Borges first met Adolfo Bioy-Casares in 1930, when Bioy was sixteen and Borges, who had already published three books of poems, three books of essays and a biography, thirty-one. Borges has called his friendship with Bioy "one of the chief events of my life" and added with characteristic modesty:

when we began to work together, Bioy was really and secretly the master…. Opposing my...

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Suzanne Jill Levine (essay date Spring-Summer 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Science versus the Library in The Island of Dr. Moreau, La invención de Morel [The Invention of Morel], and Plan de evasión [A Plan for Escape]," in Latin American Literary Review, Vol. IX, No. 18, Spring-Summer, 1981, pp. 17-26.

[A prolific translator of Latin American literature, Levine has translated works by such authors as Manuel Puig, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortazar, Severo Sarduy, and Carlos Fuentes. She is the translator of two works by Bioy Casares, The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata and Asleep in the Sun. In the following essay, she characterizes H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) and Bioy Casares's...

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Elizabeth Muther (review date 25 August 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Early Borges: Leveling Social Criticism through Satire," in The Christian Science Monitor, August 25, 1981, p. 18.

[In the following review, Muther highlights the inherent social commentary of Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi and discusses the nature of Bioy Cassares's professional relationship with Jorge Luis Borges.]

Soon after the outbreak of World War II the Germans chose to sink one of their own maimed warships near Montevideo Harbor, Uruguay, rather than face the British fleet on the open ocean. Just across the river in Argentina they knew they had friends to whom they could flee. In late 1939 the Argentines, ruled by a military coalition, were...

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Nicholas Rankin (review date 27 August 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "On the Inflationary Fringe," in The Times Literary Supplement, No. 4143, August 27, 1982, p. 920.

[In the following review, Rankin provides a positive assessment of Chronicles of Bustos Domecq, describing the collection as "conservative satire."]

In "The Sartorial Revolution (I)" [in Chronicles of Bustos Domecq] Eduardo S. Bradford, dandy of the Necochea seaside promenade from 1923 to 1931, is revealed as an impoverished fake. His millionaire's hat, horn-rimmed glasses, moustache, collar, necktie, watch chain, white suit with set of imported buttons, gloves, handkerchiefs and boots have been painted on to his body. Even the malacca cane. It is...

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Maribel Tamargo (essay date Fall 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Plan de evasión: The Loss of Referentiality," in Hispanic Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, Fall, 1982, pp. 105-11.

[In the following essay, Tamargo contends that A Plan for Escape evades interpretation by withholding the evidence necessary for a single, definitive reading.]

Developing in a tradition in which the very activity of writing is posed as a problem, the contemporary novel offers interesting possibilities regarding the relationship between the text and the reality it describes. The discourse in these texts is not constructed on the appropriation of a referent outside itself; instead it presents itself as the production of its possibilities,...

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Margaret L. Snook (essay date 10-12 February 1983)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Spatiality in the Novel: Theoretical and Formal Considerations in La invención de Morel," in La Chispa '83: Selected Proceedings, edited by Gilbert Paolini, Tulane University, 1983, pp. 255-62.

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Suzanne Jill Levine (essay date Spring 1983)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Parody Island: Two Novels by Bioy Casares," in Hispanic Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2, Spring, 1983, pp. 43-9.

[In the following essay, Levine asserts that The Invention of Morel and A Plan for Escape comment on the nature of literature by parodying and synthesizing "a whole tradition of utopic works." Levine particularly notes the novellas' ties to H. G. Wells's dystopic work The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896).]

Parody in the new Latin American novel has become a central theme in Hispanic criticism, and one of the first writers to theorize on this subject was Cuban novelist Severo Sarduy. In an essay-parody on Manuel Puig's Boquitas pintadas...

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Wendy B. Faris (review date Autumn 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Historias desaforadas, in World Literature Today, Vol. 61, No. 4, Autumn, 1987, p. 606.

[Faris is an American educator, critic, and author. In the following review of Historias desaforadas, Faris comments on the collection's "melancholy tone of nostalgia and resignation."]

The ten stories of Historias desaforadas provide a good introduction to the work of Bioy Casares, an early master of magical realism, better known to the world at large as the collaborator of Borges. Most of the stories inhabit that literary locus of magical realism, the domain of liminality, in which characters or states of being exist on the fringes of...

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Valentine Cunningham (review date 22 November 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Ghosts of Vietnam," in The Observer, November 22, 1987, p. 25.

[In the following excerpt, Cunningham lauds the mix of myth and local color in The Dream of Heroes.]

[A] brand of haunted American maleness preoccupies Adolfo Bioy Casares's The Dream of Heroes. Casares's people are residents of Buenos Aires, bar-flies, football fanatics, addicts of cards, booze and betting on the races, the kind of men who settle differences with bottles and knives, awesomely tangled in the values of gaucho and tango. Central among them is mechanic Emilio Gauna whose fancied horse comes good at Carnival time in 1927 and who treats his chums to a great binge during which...

(The entire section is 263 words.)

Mary Morris (review date 13 November 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "He Went for the Thrills," in The New York Times Book Review, November 13, 1988, p. 22.

[An American author and critic, Morris has published novels, short stories, and travel pieces. In the following mixed review, she asserts that the theme of fate in The Dream of Heroes is more befitting a short story or parable than a novel.]

In The Dream of Heroes, Taboada—secret protector and father-in-law of Emilio Gauna—speaks these dying words, intended for his son-in-law: "I should like to explain to him that there is generosity in happiness and selfishness in adventure." Written in 1954, and translated now for the first time, this is a novel about the...

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Lawrence Thornton (review date 11 December 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Novels Borges Never Wrote," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 11, 1988, pp. 1, 6.

[An American novelist who received many literary awards for his first novel, Imagining Argentina (1987), Thornton is also the author of Unbodied Hope: Narcissism and the Modern Novel (1984). In the following review, he judges The Dream of Heroes impressive and highly influenced by Jorge Luis Borges, while finding Diary of the War of the Pig only partially developed.]

Most people would agree that Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez are the major practitioners of magic realism, but even though they work the same generic terrain, their...

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Michael Harris (review date 5 November 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata, in Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 5, 1989, p. 6.

[Harris is a Canadian journalist and author whose bestseller, Justice Denied: The Law Versus Donald Marshall (1986), is the true account of a seventeen-year-old Micmac Indian who was sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder he did not commit. In the following review, Harris offers high praise for The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata.]

The reader of a novel is like a young man from the provinces who arrives in the big city gawking, suitcase in hand. What adventures will befall him? Romance? A mugging? The main thing is that...

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Ilan Stavans (review date 19 November 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata, in The New York Times Book Review, November 19, 1989, p. 24.

[In the following excerpt, Stavans finds The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata disappointing.]

The future will remember the Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares as the close friend and collaborator of Jorge Luis Borges. It will also acknowledge his novels The Dream of Heroes and the remarkable The Invention of Morel. Unfortunately, The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata will probably not share this immortality. Published in Spanish in 1985, it describes the weeklong assignment of Nicolasito...

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Ursula Hegi (review date 23 September 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Anomie in a Shifting Reality," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 23, 1990, p. 12.

[Hegi is a German-born American educator, novelist, and critic. In the following review of A Plan for Escape, she comments on Bioy Casares's focus on communication and reality.]

Adolfo Bioy-Casares' choice of point of view [in A Plan for Escape] is brilliant: He filters experiences through the guarded speculations of someone who hasn't participated in them. Juxtaposed with excerpts of an exiled Frenchman's letters are narrative passages from his uncle who tries to make sense of the letters while freeing himself from any sense of responsibility for his...

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Daniel Balderston (review date 29 November 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Fantastic Voyages," in The New York Times Book Review, November 29, 1992, p. 15.

[An American critic, Balderston is the author of Out of Context: Historical Reference and the Representation of Reality in Borges (1993) and The Latin American Short Story: An Annotated Guide to Anthologies and Criticism (1992). In the following excerpt, he discusses Bioy Casares's approach to the fantastic in A Russian Doll, and Other Stories, noting how he imitates the work of his former collaborators, Jorge Luis Borges and Argentine fiction writer Silvina Ocampo.]

In "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," Jorge Luis Borges's great story of the creation of an...

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Barbara Mujica (review date November-December 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jewels of a Million Truths," in Américas, Vol. 44, No. 6, November-December, 1992, pp. 60-1.

[An American educator, critic, editor, nonfiction writer, novelist, and short story writer, Mujica is a specialist in the field of Hispanic studies. In the review below, she offers a favorable assessment of A Russian Doll, describing the collection as "vintage Bioy Casares."]

In the world of Bioy Casares people are unique yet duplicable, the line between individuals and even species is blurry, and God appears in the most unexpected places. Originally published in Spanish in 1991 as Una muñeca rusa, this new collection of seven stories [A Russian Doll...

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Ana María Hernández (review date Winter 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of El lado de la sombra, in World Literature Today, Vol. 67, No. 1, Winter, 1993, pp. 154-55.

[Below, Hernández offers a positive assessment of the stories collected in El lado de la sombra.]

Originally published in 1962, El lado de la sombra heralded Adolfo Bioy Casares's partial return to fantastic fiction after Guirnalda con amores (1959). Of the ten stories in the collection, four deal with fantastic subjects; of these, "El lado de la sombra" is undoubtedly the best. In it a traveler to exotic lands encounters a former friend who has experienced a change in fortune. The story is told from the perspective of a first-person...

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Evelio Echevarría (review date Winter 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of A Russian Doll and Other Stories, in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 31, No. 1, Winter, 1994, p. 126.

[In the following review of A Russian Doll, and Other Stories, Echevarría criticizes the collection's lack of "vital conflict" and thematic variation, but praises Bioy Casares's elegant writing style.]

Literary critics and Latin Americanists agree on classifying the Argentinean Bioy Casares as a fiction writer who, by dexterously combining the real and the fantastic, delves deep into the confused human mind. The present collection of short stories [A Russian Doll and Other Stories] is his ninth. It is composed of six pieces...

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Melvin S. Arrington, Jr. (review date Winter 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Memorias: Infancia, adolescencia y cómo se hace un escritor, in World Literature Today, Vol. 69, No. 1, Winter, 1995, pp. 109-10.

[In the following, Arrington offers a positive assessment of Memorias.]

In his collection of reminiscences, Memorias, Adolfo Bioy Casares (b. 1914 in Buenos Aires) openly discusses his early orientation toward the opposite sex, his various love interests, and his infidelities. Some of his fondest memories relate to life on the family estancia. His father looms large in these pages and deserves credit for instilling in the future writer an interest in literature. Bioy recalls, for instance, how his...

(The entire section is 529 words.)

Further Reading

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)


Bioy-Casares, Adolfo. "Chronology." Review, No. 15 (Fall 1975): 35-9.

Brief, humorous listing of events from Bioy Casares's life through 1975. He also cites various books and authors that influenced him at each stage of his life.


Polk, James. "Silly and Misguided about Love." The New York Times Book Review (6 November 1994): 37.

Favorable assessment of Selected Stories, noting Bioy Casares's focus on machismo, male-female relationships, and the "jarring of social and ethical norms."


(The entire section is 181 words.)