Morsamor, a Novel by Don Juan Valera

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This book is an English translation of Don Juan Valera’s novel Morsamor. In 1521, as Spanish and Portuguese mariners are navigating the seas and discovering new worlds, Miguel de Zuheros, an aging friar, leads a contemplative life, cloistered in Seville. From outside the monastery walls, news arrives of the fame, glory and achievements of his compatriots, heightening the friar’s sense of his own insignificance and obscurity, while arousing a desire to share in the excitement of the Age of Exploration. Nearing death as he is, Friar Miguel feels he must abandon such hopes for adventure until he encounters a new individual in the monastery, Father Ambrosio, a priest schooled in the art of alchemy and the magic of the faith. Anointing the despondent friar, Father Ambrosio gives him a potion whereby he becomes the dashing young adventurer Morsamor (“death-love”) who seeks to circumnavigate the globe and explore the deep recesses of the heart. Shipwrecked after the many entertaining exploits, Morsamor awakes, back in the monastery, having reverted to his alter-ego, the dying Friar Miguel, where he ponders the reality and meaning of his adventures while struggling for the purity of his soul.


Morsamor (1899) is one of the most neglected, unusual, and – sadly – undervalued novels of a nineteenth-century Spain that gave the world so much fiction of lasting merit . . . The translation by Dr. Trimble could not be better.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Thomas R. Franz, Ohio University

“ ... Professor Trimble has admirably succeeded in finding both the right register and the correct level of contemporaneity of style, lexicon and grammar in his translation of Morsamor. ...” – Professor Stephen Miller, Texas A&M University

"“ . . . the present work rescues from the past a literary piece of great value by Juan Valera, a work that inexplicably has remained in oblivion, and thanks to this edition will broaden horizons for students and scholars of Hispanic themes on the other side of the Atlantic.” – Dr. Alberto Egea Fernandez-Montesinos, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla

“Morsamor, by Juan Valera, is a monumental exploration of the question: what would happen if, late in life, we were given that life back and were able to re-live it? What mistakes would we avoid, or what new ones would we inevitably make? Further, what significance would the new life have?” – Dr. Jan A. Smucker, Professor Emeritus, Hanover College

Table of Contents

Works Consulted
1. Valera’s Dedication
2. Part I, In the Cloister
3. Part II, The Adventures
4. Part III, Supreme Reconciliation
5. End Notes

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