Item description for Journey by Moonlight (Pushkin Paper) by Antal Szerb...
Anxious to please his bourgeois father, Mihály has joined the family firm in Budapest. Pursued by nostalgia for his bohemian youth, he seeks escape in marriage to Erzsi, not realizing that she has chosen him as a means to her own rebellion. On their honeymoon in Italy, Mihály "loses" his bride at a provincial station and embarks on a chaotic and bizarre journey that leads him finally to Rome. There all the death-haunted and erotic elements of his past converge, and he, like Erzsi, has finally to choose.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 7.75" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2003
Publisher Pushkin Paper
ISBN 1901285502 ISBN13 9781901285505
Availability 0 units.
More About Antal Szerb
Antal Szerb was born in Budapest in 1901. Best known in the West as a novelist and short story writer, he was also a prolific scholar whose interests ranged widely across the whole field of European literature. Debarred from a university post by reason of his Jewish ancestry, he taught in a commercial secondary school until increas- ing persecution led to his brutal death in a labour camp, in 1945. Yet the tone of his writing is almost always deceptively light, the fierce intelligence softened by a gentle tolerance, wry humour and understated irony. Pushkin Press's publications of Szerb's work include his novelsJourney by Moonlight, Oliver VIIandThe Pendragon Legend, as well as the short story collectionLove in a Bottleand the historyThe Queen's Necklace."
Reviews - What do customers think about Journey by Moonlight (Pushkin Paper)?
An overlooked masterpiece Jul 24, 2008
This is one of the finest books I've ever read, a masterpiece of 20th century European lit. As with only the very best literature, you will know yourself better after reading it, and then you'll want to read it again.
Wholly involving Nov 4, 2007
Mihály, the central character of this elegant and stylish novel (beautifully translated by Len Rix) seems to belong to the early continental 19th century rather than to inter-war Budapest. He is a man in his late thirties, a neurotic and Romantic character, unworldly, more at home in history than in the present, ill at ease in his bourgeois setting at home and equally ill at ease about being in his late thirties. He has a great nostalgia for the time when, as an adolescent schoolboy, he was the hanger-on of a group of unconventional young people: Tamás (who several times tried to commit suicide and eventually managed it); his sister Eva (whom Mihály adored); Ervin (another of Eva's admirers, a convert to Catholicism from Judaism); and János, a suave trickster.
The book opens twenty years later, when Mihály is on his honeymoon in Venice with his wife Erszi. Erszi had left her first husband to marry Mihály because he was `different'; he had seduced and then married her because he was trying to be `normal'. But she did not understand just how `different' he was, and he could not cope with marriage; and, besides, he is haunted by the memory of the now mysterious Eva. During a stop-over on a railway journey, Mihály makes the Freudian error of getting onto one train while Erszi is travelling on another. He is relieved to be on his own and that noone can find him. He travels from one Italian location to another - all beautifully and sometimes hauntingly described. I must not reveal the many strange, mysterious and coincidental events that happen to him; but in any case his thought processes are at least as central to the story as are the various events.
Meanwhile Erszi, unable to face her family in Budapest as a deserted wife, makes her way to Paris. There she, too, in her own way, turns against the respectable bourgeois life she has hitherto been leading. Again I must not elaborate; but the story is full of fascinating psychological twists and turns (though one of them, in an ancient chateau on a rainy night, does, I must admit, strike me as uncharacteristically grotesque and over the top - quite out of tune with the delicacy of the rest of the novel.)
The note of death is heard throughout the novel. As a youngster Mihály had to take part in the theatricals staged by Tamás and Eva which invariably involved death, with Mihály willingly playing the sacrificial victim. Later, there are suicides, cemeteries, Etruscan sarcophagi and the apparent Etruscan notion that "dying is an erotic art", which so resonates with Mihály and had done so for Tamás. Mihály hears a remarkable lecture on that subject from Professor Waldheim, one of his former class-mates whom he meets in Rome - and from that moment onwards Szerb plays some extraordinary games with his readers.
A subtle, rich and wonderful book.
Justifiably Acclaimed Sep 10, 2005
I'm afraid to say that some of the customers who reviewed this fantastic translation of a classic are terribly wide of the mark. Rix's translation certainly does retain the lyricism and beauty of the Hungarian-language original, and to suggest that his work is an "insult to Szerb" makes one wonder whether the reviewers have an ulterior motive for praising Hargitai's version at the expense of Rix. Incidentally, as a European man I can tell that I certainly would say "I reckon." Also, has your reviewer examined the original Hungarian passage? It may well be that Tamás' language is the colloquial Hungarian equivalent of "I reckon." Len Rix is a scholar of the highest order (and a fluent speaker of Hungarian, I might add) and to suggest that he is not aware of such subtleties is laughable.
Your reviewers might also like to consider why Rix's translation was regarded as a "Book of the Year" in a number of publications, and why it was praised by none other than George Szirtes, who as they will know is a poet, critic, and Hungarian.
An insult to Szerb Aug 1, 2005
If you have already read the original translation of Antal Szerb's novel, "The Traveler", then this more recent embarrassment to literature will be beyond disappointing. By simply reading the first page of "Journey by Moonlight" you want to toss the book into the English Channel. Rix seems to have dumbed down the novel and if I were an Englishman I would be ashamed to place this novel in the same library with the classic literature that most English authors are renowned for. Rix word choices and sentence structure insult my intelligence. I don't understand how anyone can expect a person who doesn't speak Hungarian to be able to translate a Hungarian novel with out making it sound like a translation. Rix also does a horrible job of installing a sense of mystery and gloom in the reader. The first page of Rix's version leaves the reader thinking that Mihaly and his wife are on some lovely Italian holiday. Hargitai's translation on the other hand immediately immerses the reader into the dark mind of Antal Szerb. [...]
Intriguing, Alluring, Sexy, Dark Nov 25, 2004
A classic in Hungarian literature, so I've learned, this work rightly deserves its vaunted status. Deceptive in style, and written almost from a Kafkaesque perspective, one feels as if one is walking in the landscape of "The Castle," but dealing with characters from Donna Tartt's "The Secret History." The blend of the two is intriguing, and the feeling this work gives of 1930s European degeneracy and ennui is alluring and, one assumes, authentic, since it was first published in 1937 but has been made available in English for the first time now. The work isn't for everyone. It can be a bit ponderous and requires a certain mindset to appreciate its subtleties and its pace. But it is well worth reading for those with a literary bent, since, without a doubt, it is a highly nuanced literary work.