Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Reis bij maanlicht roman by Antal Szerb

Reis bij maanlicht roman (edition 2004)

by Antal Szerb

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5052220,141 (3.98)39
Title:Reis bij maanlicht roman
Authors:Antal Szerb
Info:Amsterdam Van Gennep cop. 2004
Collections:Your library
Tags:buitenlandse literatuur, hongarije, italiaans

Work details

Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb

Recently added byFlorenceArt, private library, stortemelk, taivaankumma, kaggsy, vanessajw
  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.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 39 mentions

English (16)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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 |
Very European, very existential and very good. Antal Szerb's [Journey by Moonlight] was published in Hungarian in 1937 and this edition was translated by Len Rix in 2001. Rix himself describes the actions of Mihaly; the central character as immoral, absurd and farcical, but I find his actions those of a sane man in world of absurdity. (but that probably says more about me than it does the book). We can never know exactly what Szerb thought because much of what he writes seems ironical and ambiguous. Don't let this put you off reading because the book is not 'difficult' even if you cannot come to terms with Mihaly and his perceived weakness of character.

I love books with a good opening sentence and this one has a killer:

"On the train everything seemed fine. The trouble began in Venice, with the back alleys.

Mihaly and Erzsi are on honeymoon in Venice (a warning for anyone considering honeymooning in Venice) and Mihaly is already feeling trapped. He takes himself off for a walk and fails to return to the hotel until the following morning. He tries to explain to Erzsi his actions and tells her of his adolescence when he came under the spell of Eva and her brother Tamas. He spent much of his time with this curious couple who were obsessed with death and the act of dying. There were others in this circle of friends; Ervin a Jew who converted to Catholicism and Janos Szepetnecki a youth already involved in criminal activity. It is a visit from Szeptnecki that jolts Mihaly out of his comfortable marriage with the wealthy Erszi and sends him on a quest to discover himself. In typical Mihaly fashion he gets off a train to buy some coffee, getting back on to the wrong train effectively separating himself from his newly married wife. He embarks on a ramble around Italy relying on fate to show him the way.

Tamas we learn has committed suicide, but Eva, Janos and Ervin are all in Italy and Mihaly stumbles upon them as he vaguely tries to sort out some sort of meaning for his existence. Death and/or suicide seems to hover tantalisingly close and I was reminded of Albert Camus opening paragraph in his [Myth of Sisyphus] There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Antal Szerb's lightness of touch, his sense of fun and his use of irony serve to keep his book from plunging the reader into some sort of turgid tragedy. We are able to be amused by Mihaly and at the same time be interested and wonder at his lack of perspicacity. Zoltan: Erzsi's ex husband writes to Mihaly telling him to sort himself out, to make up his mind about Erzsi and says:

if I were a woman and had to choose between the two of us I would choose you without hesitation and Erzsi surely loves you for being the sort of person you are; - so utterly withdrawn and abstracted that you have no real relationship with anybody or anything, like someone from another planet, a Martian on Earth, someone who never really notices anything, who cannot feel real anger about anything, who never pays proper attention when others speak, who often seems to act out of vague goodwill and politeness as if just playing at being human.

It is not too difficult to understand why Mihaly is such an outsider to the world of business and affairs that Zoltan inhabits, but it is also not so difficult to see why Erzsi is so attracted to him. Later Erzsi tells him that "The world won't tolerate a man giving himself up to nostalgia, it wont tolerate any deviations from the norm. Any desertion or defiance and sooner or later it turns the Zoltans on you."

Antal Szerb intrigues with some fine writing, with some ambiguous discussions on the meaning of life, but also he has a good story to tell. He takes us on a tour of Italy, he wallows in Mihaly's nostalgia, there are ghosts and images from the past and meetings with old friends. There is also on the fringe of this world; the fascists who hover in the background; Mussolini is in power and from our perspective we know that Mihaly's world will be subject to violent change. Antal Szerb is not unsympathetic to his female characters, they are strong and resolute and we are allowed to see the world through Erzsi's eyes.

I enjoyed this book very much, it nearly persuaded me to jump in the car and go to see those Italian towns, but then like Mihaly I am a man of inaction and that is why perhaps I liked the book so much. A four star read. ( )
4 vote baswood | May 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (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 (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Antal Szerbprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dandoy, GyörgyiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rix, LenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
First words
On the train everything seemed fine.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
38 wanted
6 pay5 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.98)
1 2
2 4
2.5 2
3 17
3.5 11
4 42
4.5 10
5 32

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,728,251 books! | Top bar: Always visible