Szerb and Pushkin Press
Puskin Press has been translating the novels of Antal Szerb, and Alberto Manguel is very appreciative:
Szerb’s first novel exulted in the absurdity of life while his last despaired over it. His most well-known work, Journey by Moonlight, written in 1937, maintained a powerful tension between both. As his translator Len Rix points out in his afterword, at the tragic end of his life Szerb was confronted with the choice he had lent his own characters, “between living out the role he had been so cruelly allotted, and the chance to flee”. The hero of The Pendragon Legend escapes into the world, whereas King Oliver retreats into the fate decreed for him. Szerb, in spite of seeing his scholarly work banned and being forced to pass off Oliver VII as a translation from the English to get it published, refused the offer to emigrate to the US because he didn’t want to abandon his family, his friends or his home country Hungary.
Uncork your best Tokay to toast the Pushkin Press for publishing these translations. May Szerb’s re-entrance into our literary pantheon be definitive.
Szerb’s Journey by Moonlight is just fantastic, and I recommend you put it on you to-read list right away.