Re: RE : RARA-AVIS: B.Traven

From: Richard Moore (
Date: 13 Jul 2007

I almost always agree with your opinions but I cannot disagree more with your dismissal of the work of B. Traven. His work is uneven with some novels better than others--but this can be said of nearly every writer. His style is often conversational--the storyteller-- but I like that style and find it quite accessable. My favorite Traven novel is THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, which I would put at the top of any list of the "easily readable" and I've reread it more than any other novel. I picked up the Pocket Books edition with Bogart on the cover when I was 12 and read it in one gulp and then reread it immediately. I lucked into a first American edition when I was 14 and picked it up for $8 although that was a lot of money to me then.

But I do respect your view as always even on this rare point of disagreement. I also think very highly of some of his shorter work as represented in his collection THE NIGHT VISITOR.

The fellow who finally tracked down the details on Traven was Will Wyatt who produced a BBC special and then a book entitled THE SECRET OF THE SIERRA MADRE: THE MAN WHO WAS B. TRAVEN (Doubleday 1980). An interesting earlier work by Judy Stone is THE MYSTERY OF B. TRAVEN (William Kaufmann 1977) which includes impressions from her conversations with the old man in Mexico. A comprehensive, if somewhat turgid, biography was published by Karl S. Guthke In 1987.

Richard Moore

--- In, "E. Borgers" <webeurop@...> wrote:
> Miker,
> IMO you can forget B. Traven's work, not easily readable.
> Of course, as I don't read German fluently, I could not check
the version of Death Ship that he first published during the twenties. Many versions, many also "reduced" by editors…
> I think that looking for a work on his life will be far more
interesting. It's a real saga.
> There were also two very good documentaries (for TV) depicting
his life, works… and explaining once for all the identity problem and its solutions.
> But I do not have the ref for the documentaries any more.
> E.Borgers
> Michael Robison <miker_zspider@...> a 飲it : I'm on
vacation down in Jacksonville, Florida, and
> I've been visiting some of the used bookstores down
> here. Checked out the Tappin Book Mine today and
> walked away with The Real Cool Killers. That place is
> always good for classic hardboiled. I've been
> thinking I might want to walk through the whole series
> after reading Cottom Comes to Harlem several years
> back. They had Traven's (sp?) Death Ship, but after
> thumbing through it, I didn't think it looked too
> exciting.
> miker
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