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Traven Bruno Traven in some accounts was the pen name of a presumably German novelist, whose real name, nationality, date and place of birth and details of biography are all subject to dispute. One of the few certainties about Traven’s life is that he lived for years in Mexicowhere the majority of his fiction is also set—including The Treasure of the Sierra Madrewhich was adapted for the Academy Award winning film of the same name in Virtually every detail of Traven’s life has been disputed and hotly debated.

There were many hypotheses on the true identity of B. Traven, some of them wildly fantastic. Most agree that Traven was Ret Maruta German stage actor and anarchistwho supposedly left Europe for Mexico around[1] [2] who had edited an anarchist newspaper in Germany called Der Ziegelbrenner [The Brickburner] and who himself possibly operated under the same pseudonym. Traven in Mexico is also connected with the names of Berick Traven Torsvan and Hal Croves, both of whom appeared and acted in different periods of the writer’s life.

Both, however, denied being Traven and claimed that they were his literary agents only, representing him in contacts with his publishers.

Canasta de cuentos mexicanos- Bruno Traven

Traven is the author of twelve novels, one book of reportage and several short stories, in which the sensational and adventure subjects combine tgaven a critical attitude towards capitalism. Traven’s best known works include the novels The Death Ship fromThe Treasure of the Sierra Madre from filmed in by John Hustonand the so-called “Jungle Novels,” also known as the Caoba cyclus from the Spanish word caobameaning mahogany.

The Jungle Novels are a group of six novels including The Carreta and Governmentlbro in the years — and set among Mexican Brino just before and during the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century.

Traven’s novels and short stories became very popular as early as the interwar period and retained this popularity after the Second World War ; they were also translated into many languages. Traven’s mexcianos were published in German first and their English editions appeared later; nevertheless the author always claimed that the English versions were the original ones and that the German versions were only their translations.

This claim is not taken seriously. The writer with the pen name B. In the book, Traven introduced for the first time the figure of Gerald Gales in Traven’s other dde his name is Gale, or Gerard Galesan American sailor who looks for a job in different occupations in Mexico, often consorting with suspicious characters and witnessing capitalistic exploitation, nevertheless not losing his will to fight and striving to draw canata from life.

The main character of the novel is again Gerald Dr, a sailor who, having lost his documents, virtually forfeits his identity, the right to normal life and home country and, consequently, is forced to work as a stoker’s helper in extremely difficult conditions on board a “death ship” meaning a coffin shipwhich sails on suspicious voyages around the European and African coasts.

The novel is an accusation of the greed of capitalist employers and bureaucracy of officials who deport Gale from the countries where he is seeking refuge. In the light of findings of Traven’s biographers, The Death Ship may be regarded as a novel with autobiographical elements. Traven is identical with cjentos revolutionary Ret Marut, there is a clear parallel between the fate of Gale and the life of the dd himself, devoid of his home country, who might have been forced to work in a boiler room of a steamer on a voyage from Europe to Mexico.

The action of the book is again set in Mexico, and its main characters are a group of American adventurers and gold seekers. The film, starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Hustonwas a great commercial success, and in it won three Academy Awards.

In the novel, Traven first dealt in detail with the question of the Indians living in America and with the differences between Christian and Indian cultures in Latin America; these problems dominated his later Jungle Novels. The novels describe the life of Mexican Indians in the state of Chiapas in the early 20th century who are forced to work under inhuman conditions at clearing mahogany in labour camps monterias in the jungle; this results in rebellion and the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution.

After the Jungle Novels, B. Traven practically stopped writing longer literary forms, publishing only short stories, including the novella or Mexican fairy tale Macariowhich was originally written in English but first published in German in The story, whose original English title was The Healerwas honored by The New York Times as the best short story of the year in Traven’s last novel, published inwas Aslan Norval so far not translated into Englishthe story of an American millionairess who is married to an aging businessman and at the same time in love with a young man; she intends to build a canal running across the United States as an alternative for the nuclear arms race and space exploration programs.


The subject and the language of the novel, which were completely different from the writer’s other works, resulted in its rejection for a long time by publishers who doubted Traven’s authorship; the novel was accused of being “trivial” and “pornographic”.

Doubts about Aslan Norval remain and exacerbate the problems of the writer’s identity and the true authorship of his books. Apart from his twelve novels, Mexidanos. Traven also authored many short stories, some of which remain unpublished.

The first collection of Traven’s short stories, entitled Der Buschappeared in ; its second, enlarged edition was published in From the s onwards many of his short stories also appeared in magazines and anthologies in different languages. It has not been translated into English.

Traven’s writings can be best described as “proletarian adventure novels”. They tell about exotic travels, outlaw adventurers and Indians; many of their motifs can also be found in Karl May ‘s and Jack London ‘s novels.

Unlike much of adventure or Western fiction, Traven’s books, however, are not only characterized by a detailed description of the social environment of their protagonists but also by the consistent presentation of the world from the perspective of the “oppressed and exploited”.

Traven’s characters are drawn commonly from the lower classes of society, from the proletariat or lumpenproletariat strata; they are more antiheroes than heroes, and despite that they have this primal vital force which compels them to fight.

The notions of “justice” or Christian morality, which are so visible in adventure novels by other authors, for example Karl May, are of no importance here. Instead, an anarchist element of rebellion often lies at the centre of the novel’s action. The hero’s rejection of his degrading living conditions frequently serves as motive and broad emphasis is placed upon the efforts of the oppressed to liberate themselves.

Canasta de cuentos mexicanos- Bruno Traven | #libroclaroscuro

Apart from that, there are virtually no political programmes in Traven’s books; his clearest manifesto may be the general anarchist demand ” Tierra y Libertad ” in the Jungle Novels. Professional politicians, including ones who sympathize with the left, are usually shown in a negative light, if shown at all. Despite this, Traven’s books are par excellence political works. Although the author does not offer any positive programme, he always indicates the cause of suffering of his heroes.

This source of suffering, deprivation, poverty and death is for him capitalism, personified in the deliberations of the hero of The Death Ship as Caesar Augustus Capitalismus. Dressing his novels in the costume of adventure or western literature, the writer seeks to appeal to the less educated, and first of all to the working class.

In his presentation of oppression and exploitation, Traven did not limit himself to the criticism of capitalism; in the centre of his interest there were rather racial persecutions of Mexican Indians. These motifs, which are mainly visible in the Jungle Novels, were a complete novelty in the s. Most leftist intellectuals, despite their negative attitude to European and American imperialismdid not know about, or were not interested in persecutions of natives in Africa, Asia or South America.

Traven deserves credit for drawing public attention to these questions, long before anti-colonial movements and struggle for emancipation of black people in the United States. Traven submitted his works himself or through his representatives for publication from Mexico to Europe by post and gave a Mexican post office box as his return address. The copyright holder named in his books was “B. Neither the European nor the American publishers of the writer ever met him personally or, at least, the people with whom they negotiated the publication and later also the filming of his books always maintained they were only Traven’s literary agents; the identity of the writer himself was to be kept secret.

This reluctance to offer any biographical information was explained by B. Traven in words which were to become one of his best-known quotations:.

The creative person should have no other biography than his works. The non-vanity and non-ambition claimed by Traven was no humble gesture, Jan-Christoph Hauschild writes:. By deleting his former names Feige and Marut, he extinguished his hitherto existences and created a new one, including a suitable story of personal descent.

Traven knew that values like credibility and authenticity were effective criteria in the literary matters he dealt with and that he needed to consider them.

Above all, his performance was self-fulfilment, and after that the creation of an artist.

Even as Ret Marut he played parts on stage but also in the stalls and in real life, so he equipped and coloured them with adequate and fascinating stories of personal descent till they became a spleeny mixture of self-discovery, self-invention, tfaven and masquerade.

This turned into a trap because he was no longer able to expose his true vita without appearing as a show-off. Traven remained a mysterious figure.


Literary critics, journalists and others were trying to discover the author’s identity and were proposing more or less credible, sometimes fantastic hypotheses. The author of the first hypothesis concerning B. From time to time, he also directed plays and wrote articles on theatre subjects. After the outbreak of the war, inhe declared to the German authorities that he was an American citizen. Marut also became politically engaged when, inhe launched the periodical Der Ziegelbrenner The Brick Burner with a clearly anarchistic profile its last issue appeared in Ret Marut was arrested after the overthrow of cjentos Bavarian Soviet Republic on May 1,and taken to be executed, but managed to escape it is said.

All this may explain why Traven always claimed to be American and denied any connections with Germany; a warrant, in the German Reich kexicanos, had been out for Ret Marut’s arrest since Inhe published a biography of Traven [13] in which bruni claimed that the books signed with the pen name B.

Traven including the post-war ones had been written by Ret Marut. At present, this hypothesis is accepted by most “Travenologists”. The Ret Marut hypothesis did not explain how the former actor and anarchist reached Mexico; it did not provide canaeta information about his early life either. The journalists gained access to Ret Marut’s files in the United States Department of State and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office ; from these they discovered that Marut attempted to travel from Europe, via Britain, gruno Canada inbut was turned back from that country.

He was finally arrested and imprisoned as a foreigner without a residence permit in Brixton PrisonLondon on 30 November Brunoo and Robinson did research in the Polish archives and confirmed the authenticity of these facts; both the date and place of birth libbro the Christian names of Feige’s parents agreed with Marut’s testimony.

Robinson showed photographs of Marut and Traven to a brother and a sister of Trxven, and they appeared to recognise the person in the photos as their brother. In Jan-Christoph Hauschild did research in German archives and confirmed the authenticity of the family memories.

B. Traven – Wikipedia

After working as a mechanic in Magdeburg, Feige became summer head of the metal workers’ union in Gelsenkirchen. He started his career in Idar today Idar-Oberstein.

Ret Marut was held in Brixton prison until 15 February After his release in the spring ofhe went to the US consulate in London and asked for confirmation of his American citizenship. He claimed that he had been born in San Francisco insigned on a ship when he was ten and had been travelling around the world since then, but now wanted to settle down and get his life in order. Incidentally, Marut had also applied for US citizenship earlier when he lived in Germany. Birth records in San Francisco were destroyed in the earthquake and fireand for several decades afterward false claims of birth there were common.

The above dates of Marut’s supposed incarceration in the UK seem to be supported by travel documents. Upon disembarking in Canada, he declared his intent to travel to the United States via Canada, that he was born in the US, a US citizen, had 50 dollars in his possession, and listed his occupation as a farmer and his language as “American.

The hypothesis that B. Traven is identical with Ret Marut and Otto Feige is nowadays accepted by many scholars. Tapio Helen points out that the adoption of such a version of the writer’s biography would be very difficult to reconcile with the many Americanisms in his works and the general spirit of American culture pervading them; these must be proof of at least a long life of the writer in the American environment which was not the case in Feige’s or Marut’s biography.

On the other hand, if Marut was not identical with Otto Feige, it is difficult to explain how he knew the details of his birth so well, including his mother’s maiden name, and the similarity of the faces and the handwriting.

The Otto Feige hypothesis had been rejected by Karl S. Guthke who believed that Marut’s version about his birth in San Francisco was nearer the truth even though Guthke agreed with the opinion that Marut fantasized in his autobiography to some extent.

The circumstances of this journey are not clear either. Traven by many scholars see belowher husband signed on a ” death ship ” after his release from prison and sailed to Norway, from there on board another “death ship” to Africa and, finally, on board a Dutch ship, reached Tampico on the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of He allegedly utilized his experiences from these voyages later in the novel The Death Ship.