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Reis bij maanlicht roman by Antal Szerb
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Reis bij maanlicht roman (edition 2004)

by Antal Szerb

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5392318,630 (3.97)41
Member:sneeuwvlokje
Title:Reis bij maanlicht roman
Authors:Antal Szerb
Info:Amsterdam Van Gennep cop. 2004
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:buitenlandse literatuur, hongarije, italiaans

Work details

Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb

Recently added byprivate library, BayardUS, aquaticus, ericarenee, Capybara_99, lmgrim, morrip, peterpetcarp
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  1. 10
    Van Sándor Márai tot Magda Szabó klassieke Hongaarse romans uit de 20e eeuw by Jolanta Jastrze̜bska (gust)
    gust: Deze bundel essays bevat een verhelderende bespreking van deze roman.
  2. 00
    The Third Tower: Journeys in Italy (Pushkin Collection) by Antal Szerb (sorbetandstuff)
    sorbetandstuff: Antal Szerb's travels in Italy at the brink of WWII, described in The Third Tower, formed a direct influence on his novel Journey By Moonlight.
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» See also 41 mentions

English (17)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This is another book I can't really do justice to without re-reading. I remember this as an entrancing tale set in a dreamlike middle Europe which I enjoyed a lot. ( )
  bodachliath | Nov 4, 2014 |
This is a much more somber book than the other works by Szerb that I've read, as well a book that explores the desire for death should be, but it is still just as playful, ironic, learned, and fascinated by deception and play-acting as the others. The protagonist, Mihály, despite being on his honeymoon at the start of the novel, is drawn to death as a moth is drawn to a flame, unconsciously at first but later more and more consciously. In fact, he becomes more and more conscious as the book progresses.

At the beginning, he sets out for a nightcap, leaving his bride Erzsi (with whom, while she was still married to her first husband, Zoltán, he'd had an affair) in their Venice hotel room, but finds himself wandering all night through back alleys, including those near where "the gondolas of the dead begin their journey." (As the novel begins: "On the train everything seemed fine. The trouble began in Venice, in the back alleys.") As explanation to Erzsi, Mihály starts talking about the group of friends he hung out with as a teenager: siblings Éva and Tamás with whom Mihály was fascinated; Ervin, born Jewish and not only converting to Catholicism, but eventually becoming a Franciscan monk; and Janós, who surprisingly turns up on the honeymoon and always plays a devious, if not criminal, role. As teenagers, Mihály, Éva, and Tamás engaged in "plays" directed by Éva, in which she ended up cheating, betraying, and killing the two young men. In fact, Tamás eventually succeeded in killing himself (after once encouraging Mihály to join him in a suicide attempt, sensually describing the allure of the process of dying), and Éva (whom Mihály strenuously denies having been in love with) disappeared from Mihály's life, as did Ervin and Janós.

As a teenager and young man, Mihály had turned his back on his bourgeois family, and especially his father, choosing instead a somewhat serious study of history and religion, but he had eventually returned to the family, becoming a partner in the family investment business. It is from that position that he decided to marry Erzsi. But, on his honeymoon, he finds himself removing his money from Erzsi's bag (she is the financial manager of the couple) and the next day leaving their train to get coffee and winding up on a different train going in the opposite direction from the one Erzsi is on. Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) untroubled by this error (Freud would have had a field day), he goes on a journey of self-exploration with many twists and turns and entertaining characters. The reader also gets Erzsi's perspective as she too, winding up in Paris, goes on a parallel journey of self-exploration. In Mihály's journey, he confronts some of the ghosts of his past, but remains somewhat passive and responsive to the situations he finds himself in; he is thus contrasted with people like his father, Erzsi's first husband (also a man of business), and Janós who seem to vigorously take on the world, at least the world of money and power.

In the afterword to Oliver VII (which Szerb wrote later but which I read earlier), Len Rix, the translator of all of Szerb's novels, points out that the latter book continues to explore some of the themes in Journey by Moonlight but does so in a more light-hearted way and with the protagonist more in control of his life. Nevertheless, I can see that in both books Szerb explores people who want to escape from their responsibilities, people pretending to be other than who they are as a way of discovering who they are, and deception, intrigue, and criminal activity.

This is a fascinating and deep book that I'm still thinking about several days after finishing it.
2 vote rebeccanyc | Jul 9, 2014 |
An excellent tale with numerous threads; accepting societal norms, the power of the past, the lure of religion, death, and drama. It is all written with an understanding of psychology and the support of atmospheric scenes. ( )
  snash | Jun 26, 2014 |
Mihaly and Ersazi are a Hungarian couple on their honeymoon in Italy. They are accidentally separated when Mihaly takes the wrong train and this physical separation mirrors Mihaly’s mental separation from reality. We are brought on a journey through Italy and through Mihaly’s many mental states: he vacillates among many moods which include anxiety, depression, paranoia, euphoria and numbness. Throughout his lone journey he encounters some old friends from Budapest that make him terribly nostalgic for his youth. He really can’t go home and face the mundane life of working in his father’s firm and going through the motions. So he feels that he is trapped in Italy but really has no plan or purpose for being there either. The author also writes the story from Ersazi’s point of view at several times in the narrative. Ersazi, once left on her own, is also forced to make important decisions about her life and future.

This is one of the hardest reviews I have written because there are so many interesting aspects to this book that it is difficult to truly do it justice in a brief review. The characters, although they tend to make stupid and impulsive decisions, are fascinating nonetheless. The way that the author simultaneously explores major themes such as love, relationships, and death throughout the narrative is truly an amazing literary feat. JOURNEY BY MOONLIGHT is a fascinating study of the human mind and I highly recommend it to anyone who can appreciate true literary genius. ( )
  magistrab | Jun 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
There is something almost divine about this - and that Szerb's great intelligence didn't force him to produce a work of arid perfectionism makes it all the more remarkable. (I salute Rix's wonderful translation, which makes it look as though the book was somehow written in English in the first place.) It's got everything - great travelogues, the messiest study in the world, daft, rich American art students called Millicent ("'Millicent,' he said. 'There's someone in the world actually called Millicent!'"), great jokes about suicide, and superb aperçus: "November in London isn't a month - it's a state of mind." Pushkin Press, in bringing this to our attention, have excelled themselves.
 

» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Antal Szerbprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dandoy, GyörgyiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orringer, JulieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rix, LenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the train everything seemed fine.
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