The image and the island (Narrative and visuality in Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel)
S. N. Zenkin
National Research UniversityHigher School of Economics (Russia, St. Petersburg), Russian State University for the Humanities (Russia, Moscow)
Keywords: Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel, visual image in narrative
Abstract: The paper considers in detail the perceptive structure in Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel, in particular, the functioning of the artificial “images” — fantastic copies of the living people — in the narrative text. These holographic copies, created by a genius inventor and dwelling on an uninhabited island in the Pacific, are distanced from the reader by a dynamic frame — in terms of discourse (the ambiguity of the storytellers and commentators), space (the geographical distance of the island) and time (the chronological ambiguity of the novel’s plot, where the chronology is replaced by a week’s time, recurring in cycles, during which the copies are “recorded”). The “images” are perceptively incomplete: they can be seen and heard, but the storyteller can not touch them. The “images” are a technological illusion, and they have a tangible underlining — the underground machinery projecting them into the island’s space; entering this underground hall is experienced as entering a sacred, enchanted place, which leads to an initiation transforming the person. All the “images” together seem to form a small world, which the storyteller protagonist seeks to join, but this world is ontologically invalid, lacking the subject: it is not a real world, but more a museum or an archive. Not the visual imagery itself, but only the verbal narrative, created by the protagonist over the course of his adventures, is capable of overcoming the ontological defect, of bringing a wholesome meaning to the “images’” existence. Bioy Casares’ novel is based on the conflicting interaction between the image and the word, where the ultimate expression of the latter is the very text that we read.
To cite this article: Zenkin, S. N. (2019). The image and the island (Narrative and visuality in Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel). Shagi / Steps, 5(2), 53–85. (In Russian). DOI: 10.22394/2412-9410-2019-5-2-53-85.