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As promised, a second book review. Journey by Moonlight was a beautiful book which seems very Hungarian - the translator is evidently very skilled.

Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb (1937). Translated by Len Rix (2000).

I meant to finish this book last week, but since I was last at work (a week's holiday) I think the only books I have opened have been the DIY manual, my Financial Reporting text books (briefly) and a Su Doku puzzle book (to escape from the revision).

Again, a book from my mother. She has lent me one Hungarian novel previously, Embers by Sandor Marai (also translated into English recently). Because I read Embers first, it was very tempting to read Journey as developing from this; however, Embers was written five years later, and comes from the same background. They have a very similar narrative voice, being deceptively obvious. 

The protagonist is Mihaly, who has just got married to Erzsi. They are on honeymoon in Italy when he starts to tell her stories of his past, about his friends Tamas and Eva, Ervin and Janos. Tamas has killed himself and the group has drifted apart. Mihaly admits to himself that he was in love with Eva, but then so were Ervin, Janos and even her brother Tamas.

Being in Italy (particularly the alleyways of Venice) makes Mihaly realise he doesn't want to follow the conventional life represented by Erzsi and he absconds to Siena and Rome.

It becomes clear to Mihaly as the story progresses that he wants to follow his friend Tamas to the grave - there are frequent references to death, and even a knowledgeable academic who expands on the idea by propounding his theory of the eroticism of death.

I liked the book very much and would recommend it very highly.

 

Date: 2005-09-13 11:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lisekit.livejournal.com
Favouring a foreignising over a domesticating approach to trainslation, eh? ;-)

I tend to prefer a bit of flava myself, and nuts to anyone who thinks translation should be invisible. That's so outmoded, anyhow.

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