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Journey by Moonlight

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An NYRB Classics Original

The trouble begins in Venice, the first stop on Erzsi and Mihály’s honeymoon tour of Italy. Here Erzsi discovers that her new husband prefers wandering back alleys on his own to her company. The trouble picks up in Ravenna, where a hostile man zooms up on a motorcycle as the couple are sitting at an outdoor café. It’s János, someone Mihály hasn’t seen for years, and he wants Mihály to come with him in search of Ervin, their childhood friend. The trouble comes to a head when Mihály misses the train he and Erzsi are due to take to Rome. Off he goes across Italy, wandering from city to city, haunted and accosted by a strange array of figures from the troubled youth that he thought he had left behind: There are the charismatic siblings, Éva and Tamás, whose bizarre amateur theatricals linked sex and death forever in his mind; Ervin, a Jew turned Catholic monk who was his rival for Éva’s love; and again, that ruffian on the motorcycle.

Antal Szerb’s dreamlike adventure, like Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, is an intoxicating, utterly individual mix of magic, madness, eros, and menace. In the words of the critic Nicholas Lezard, “No one who has read it has failed to love it.”

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 21, 2014 – In this 1937 masterpiece from the late Hungarian novelist Szerb, businessman Mihaly takes his new bride Erzsi to Italy on their honeymoon, but from their first night in Venice, when Mihaly gets lost wandering the back alleys, their plans for an orderly vacation are thwarted by fate. With each chapter, mysterious characters from the past appear, strange letters are received, and locales shift from the merely exotic to the fantastical. It emerges that in Mihaly's youth, he had an intense friendship with wealthy brother and sister Tamas and Eva. The shadow of this passionate entanglement hangs over Mihaly's adult life; Italy turns out to be full of clues relating to Tamas's death, and Eva seems to literally be around every corner (at one point spying on Mihaly though holes cut in a tapestry). The romanticism crossed with middle-European emotional claustrophobia and the surreal suggests a love child of Stendhal and Kafka. The wonderfully assured shifts in tone and substance from chapter to chapter are clearly the work of a master. This is an important translation that will hopefully spur the rediscovery of a major talent.
Journey by Moonlight
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 07, 2014
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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