I have been here before,The novel is the (footnoted) diary of an escaped prisoner, stranded on an island that is rumored to be infested with a fatal disease that causes the loss of one's hair, nails, and skin. Any discussion of the plot would detract from the experience of encountering it for the first time, but suffice it to say that it involves obsession, immortality, fame, love, the parallel destinies of men and the images they create, and a woman named Faustine (which made me think of Goethe and deals with the devil). The invention itself is something we're on the verge of today--I was stunned when I flipped to the copyright page and discovered that it was first published in 1940 (!).
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore...
I look forward to reading it again. It's one of those books that demands a rereading for all of the missed clues from the first time around...
In his acceptance speech for the Premio Cervantes in 1990, Bioy Casares relates that before he finished reading the first chapter of Don Quixote, he knew he wanted to be a writer. Indeed, many literary essays have surely been written on Don Quixote's influence on La invención de Morel: the narrator suffers from a condition very similar to that of the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance.