The Invention of Morel Summary
The Invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares, is about a writer from Venezuela who has run away to an uninhabited island in Polynesia to escape a prison sentence. He learned about the island from a merchant, who told him both that it was uninhabited and that there was a mysterious disease on the island that causes death. Nevertheless, the man goes to the island to escape a sure prison sentence, and he begins to write a diary after tourists arrive there unexpectedly. As time goes on, he witnesses events that repeat themselves, and he starts to question his sanity and wonder whether the tourists are actually there at all.
The tourists vanish and return again. This time, the man hears the voice of a man named Morel, who had appeared before, and he is talking to the tourists and telling him that he has created a machine that captures people’s souls and repeats their experiences over and over again. He created this machine so he could repeat his experiences with the woman he loves. Everything the man saw could be explained by what he heard Morel telling the tourists. Morel created this machine that reconstructs reality, but in order to do so, the people have to die. Thus, the images of the tourists the man saw were not real, but virtual reality. The man, who had been watching the same woman Morel was in love with, fell in love with her too, and through a bizarre series of events, he locates Morel’s machine and inserts himself into it next to the woman he loves. This way, he believes, though she is only an image, he can be with her for eternity.
The text of this short novel is presented as a diary of an unnamed narrator, a fugitive from justice, living on an island that he assumes is in the Ellice archipelago. The narrator has found the island with the help of a rug seller in Calcutta who told him about a group of people who came to the island in 1925, built several buildings, and then disappeared. The island is known to be the focal point of a mysterious disease that attacks the body and works inward, its victims losing fingernails and hair and, finally, skin.
After a period of time spent alone on the island, exploring the museum, church, swimming pool, and mill built by the group in 1925, the narrator suddenly sees a group of people dancing and singing. He observes the group unnoticed for several days and becomes fascinated by Faustine, a beautiful woman who sits for long periods of time admiring the sunset. When he finally musters the courage to reveal himself to the woman, he finds that she pretends not to see him. As he becomes more open about his presence on the island, he realizes that he is invisible to all of the people and that they seem to be repeating at certain intervals their exact actions and words, as if they were acting parts in a play.
As the narrator eavesdrops on a meeting of the group, he hears Morel explain to the group that he has invented a machine which photographs the people through a complex process of recording their senses completely. The machine is then capable of projecting the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touch of the objects photographed, so that the images seem to be real. One entire week of their...
(The entire section is 870 words.)