Friday, 14 August 2009

Bad Traven Manuscript Unearthed

I love these stories about researchers coming across unknown early works. But coming across unknown early works of B. Traven - alias Ret Marut alias Otto Feige (?) - is just a tiny bit better.

The mysterious and influential anarchist author - who penned the novel on which Bogart's Treasure of the Sierra Madre was based - sent a detective story to his publishers, the trade-union owned Büchergilde Gutenberg, in about 1925. But they thought it was below standard so they sent it to the SPD publication Vorwärts, which printed fiction by writers such as Joseph Roth and Stefan Zweig - and paid well. As it turns out, they didn't like it much either so it languished in their archives for years, even surviving the Nazis, until the Germanist Jan-Christoph Hauschild found it in the Berlin federal archive. He says it's not much cop too, in an interview with WDR:

Traven hadn't found his tone yet. He argues on an ideological basis and is simply in the wrong. He presents the case of a murderer in the USA in the style of a court reporter and tries to rehabilitate the killer by turning the facts upside down and saying: "Another example of how fast the American justice system pins the blame on people."

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