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Journey by Moonlight [Anglais] [Broché]

Antal Szerb , Julie Orringer , Len Rix

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Cet article paraîtra le 7 octobre 2014.
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Description de l'ouvrage

7 octobre 2014 NYRB Classics
An NYRB Classics Original
 
Venice between the wars, a Hungarian couple on their honeymoon. But “Venice is where the trouble began”—where Mihály finds that he prefers wandering backalleys to the company of his bride, Erzsi. In Ravenna they are interrupted at an outdoor café by a man who zooms up on a motorcycle. It is a man from Mihály’s past, with a mysterious grudge and an inexplicable demand: that Mihály seek out a friend of their childhood who had been spotted in a procession of monks. Outside of Florence, Mihály fails to board the train that is to carry him and Erzsi to Rome. Thus begins Mihály’s odyssey through the cities and countryside of Italy and back through the youth that haunts him. Here he is reunited with a charismatic sister and brother, Éva and Tamás, whose strange amateur theatricals have left sex and death forever linked in Mihály’s mind; Ervin, a rival for Éva’s love and a Jew turned Catholic monk; and the man on the motorcycle, János.

Antal Szerb’s dreamlike story is a reckoning with freedom and responsibility, the pulls of love and destruction, and the ways that the past returns to be relived or rejected.

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

“Just divine...I can’t remember the last time I did this: finished a novel, and then turned straight back to page 1 to start it over again. That is, until I read Journey by Moonlight...It’s a comedy, but a serious and slyly clever one, the kind of book that makes you imagine the author has had private access to your own soul...Len Rix [has] managed to translate Szerb’s book into beautifully fluent English, and what we have is a work of comedy and depth, the comedy all the more striking in that the chief subjects of the book are abnegation and suicide...No one who has read it has failed to love it.” —Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
 
“A writer of immense subtlety and generosity...Can literary mastery be this quiet-seeming, this hilarious, this kind? Antal Szerb is one of the great European writers” —Ali Smith
 
“A novel to love as well as admire, always playful and ironical, full of brilliant descriptions, bon mots and absurd situations...it’s a book utterly in love with life.” —Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Guardian, Books of the Year
 
“This radiantly funny and intelligent novel...shows its author to be one of the masters of twentieth-century fiction. Len Rix’s loving translation of a book that might have remained lost to us deserves special praise.” —Paul Bailey, The Times Literary Supplement, International Books of the Year
 
“Szerb’s first novel exulted in the absurdity of life while his last despaired over it. His most well-known work, Journey by Moonlight, written in 1937, maintained a powerful tension between both...May Szerb’s re-entrance into our literary pantheon be definitive.” —Alberto Manguel
 
“Mihály’s relationship with Tamás is so myopic and worshipful as to bring back memories of Death in Venice, but I respect Szerb’s book more...the book is one of the few written before the deluge that acknowledges a bourgeois unreality with an unblinkered eye.” —David Auerbach
 
“One of the friends I mentioned put a small book in my hand and said: ‘Len, you must read this. Every educated Hungarian knows and loves this book.’ It was Antal Szerb’s Utas és holdvilág. Within a few pages I knew it was a great European novel, and I determined not just to translate it but to try and give it a translation of the literary quality it deserves.” —Len Rix
 
“A devastatingly intelligent novel of love, society and metaphysics in a mid-1930s Europe...As a study of erotic caprice, Journey by Moonlight is brilliant, but it is so much more than just a romp...This is a delightfully clever and enchanting novel, always entertaining and full of memorable aphorisms...Rix’s translation does its vibrancy justice, despite the odd anachronism...Szerb was a writer of immense talent, never sharper than in presaging the calamity that eventually killed him. Happily for us, his memory lives on.” —Toby Lichtig, The Times Literary Supplement
 
“A veritable avalanche of brilliant perceptions...It’s all so earnest, so up-to-date, so symbolic, so sophisticated, so marvelously pleased with itself and yet so naïve and unhappy you don’t know whether to consume the book at a sitting or throw it away...Journey by Moonlight is a burning book, a major book.” —George Szirtes
 
“A stealthy masterpiece...both comic and beautiful.” —The Telegraph
 
“Wonderfully wry...We owe thanks to Len Rix, Szerb’s accomplished translator, for his part in raising from the dead a writer of such cool irony and historical sympathy.” —New Statesman

Biographie de l'auteur

Antal Szerb (1901–1945), born in Budapest, was a writer and scholar noted as one of the major literary personalities of the twentieth century. He established a reputation as an academic at a very young age, spoke several languages, and lived in France, Italy, and England. In late 1944 he was deported to a concentration camp where he died months later. Among his major fictional works are Journey by Moonlight, The Pendragon Legend, and Oliver VII.
 
Len Rix is a translator of Hungarian literature, best known for his translations of Antal Szerb’s Journey by Moonlight and Magda Szabo’s The Door, both of which will be published as NYRB Classics in Fall 2014. He lives in the U.K.
 
Julie Orringer is an American writer from Miami. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and her stories have appeared in McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, as well as in several anthologies. She has a collection of short stories, How to Breathe Underwater, and one novel, The Invisible Bridge. She lives in Brooklyn.

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 256 pages
  • Editeur : NYRB Classics (7 octobre 2014)
  • Collection : NYRB Classics
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1590177738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590177730
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  22 commentaires
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Justifiably Acclaimed 10 septembre 2005
Par Harry Stopes - Publié sur Amazon.com
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.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Intriguing, Alluring, Sexy, Dark 25 novembre 2004
Par John Sollami - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
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.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Making the Journey Brighter 16 avril 2002
Par Ozzie Maland - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This is the best book I have ever read, and at age 65 after a great deal of reading, that should mean something. The review in <The Guardian> in July 2001 also lavished extravagant praise on the book, but picked a little bone about the treatment of the suicide theme. Albert Camus said that suicide was the great question of the entire 2oth century. This book portrays the character transformation that occurs when an individual really confronts his mortality, his fear of death, his falling into an abyss. This confrontation is important for healing and nowhere is it portrayed better than in Szerb's book.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The best Hungarian novel I have read 17 août 2010
Par R. M. Peterson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Achat vérifié
To acclaim a book as "the best Hungarian novel I have read" might seem like faint praise. Actually, between Sándor Márai and Gyula Krúdy, I have read in translation several quite good novels originally written in Hungarian. But JOURNEY BY MOONLIGHT surpasses them. Written in 1937, it deserves to be included among the best European literature of the 1930s, perhaps even a much broader time frame.

JOURNEY BY MOONLIGHT is set in the 1930s, but its atmosphere is that of the 19th Century. The novel begins with Mihály and Erzsi, both of solidly Budapest bourgeois background, on honeymoon in Italy. Mihály is not your typical protagonist. He is as much anti-hero as hero, more passive than assertive. He becomes obsessed with nostalgia for his past and paralyzed by fecklessness concerning his future and he abandons Erzsi to embark on a solo tour of Italy. The novel then traces the remainder of their "honeymoon" until each, by entirely separate paths that do however intersect once, returns to Budapest. During their journeys, each undergoes a number of psychological travails; each encounters other sexual temptations; and each is confronted several times with the choice between conformity to bourgeois values and release of himself/herself to the realm of desire. In addition, Mihály is continuously confronted with the choice between Eros and Thanatos. (For those so inclined, the novel contains abundant material suitable for psychoanalytical interpretation.)

What most distinguishes JOURNEY BY MOONLIGHT is its tone. The novel is light, playful, and ironic. Frequently Szerb's tongue is obviously planted firmly in cheek. The humor usually is under-stated, but it nonetheless elicited from me the occasional chuckle. Despite poking fun at his characters, Szerb at bottom is warm-hearted and good-natured. The fantastical and magical continuously asserts itself on the narrative, but never quite takes over. Sometimes it is shouldered aside by madcap farce and other times it relapses to a seemingly sober realism.

The novel is interlaced with Szerb's gently biting commentary on all sorts of European matters, especially Italian. (Szerb had had extended stays in England, France, and Italy.) For example, he observes of Mussolini's Fascist Italy that: "The Italian papers were always ecstatically happy, as if they were written not by humans but by saints in triumph, just stepped down from a Fra Angelico in order to celebrate the perfect social system. There was always some cause for happiness: some institution was eleven years old, a road had just turned twelve." But Szerb also, even-handedly, applies his trenchant eye to his own: After Milhály awakes from a drunken stupor in an Italian working-class home and neighborhood, "his hand unconsciously groped for his wallet. The wallet was there in its place, next to his heart, where the Middle-European, not entirely without a touch of symbolism, keeps his money."

Throughout, the novel keeps the reader off-balance. It is so playful that one is tempted to pigeonhole it as sheer entertainment, albeit quite charming and sophisticated entertainment. But I think beneath all the dazzle there are some serious themes or messages. In Rome, Mihály is shown some Etruscan drinking bowls, with the inscription (in Etruscan): "Enjoy the wine today, tomorrow there will be none." And Szerb's answer to the novel's (and the Middle European) preoccupation with suicide is that "while there is life there is always the chance that something might happen."

A paragraph about the author, with whom I was completely unfamiliar before this book caught my eye: Antal Szerb (1901 - 1945) was yet another victim of the Holocaust. He was born to assimilated Jewish parents but was baptized and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. He became a Professor of Literature and a highly regarded scholar of Western literature, and he wrote four novels in the last decade of his life. Despite opportunities to do so, Szerb refused to flee Hungary even after the Nazis occupied the country and ratcheted up their anti-Semitic demands on the Hungarian government. In late 1944 Szerb was sent to a forced-labor camp where, in January 1945, he was beaten to death. That story shares a few tragic features with the story of Bruno Schulz. I sense that the Nazi murder of Antal Szerb worked as grievous a loss on world literature as did the execution of Bruno Schulz.

Note: Amazon also carries another translation of the novel, under the title "The Traveler". There are over 270 reviews of "The Traveler", most of them by students at Florida International University where the translator of that rendition is on the faculty. I am in no position to compare the merits of the two translations, but I will say that the translation by Len Rix in JOURNEY BY MOONLIGHT is highly literate and fully engaging.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Wholly involving 4 novembre 2007
Par Ralph Blumenau - Publié sur Amazon.com
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.
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