55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
a marvelous, muse-ridden oddysey,
This review is from: Journey by Moonlight (Paperback)
Journey by Moonlight is deservedly a classic of 20th century Hungarian literature and a very great novel. It combines realistic depiction of middle class Budapest manners and mores with a profound sense of the darker forces at work in all of us beneath the veneer of civilisation (forces which were to erupt and deprive the author of his life in a Nazi labour camp a few years after he published this book). Every character is drawn with superb elegance and depth, and the parallel journeys of Mihaly and Erszi are astonishing in their desperate intensity and danger. I lived every second of their pathetic nights of crisis with them and was genuinely relieved by the ironic conclusion.
This book is far more than an accomplished comedy of manners, though it may be read as simply that. Its complex nesting of love-triangles denotes the presence of the muse in, ultimately, nightmarish mode. I believe it is a model and precursor for Cocteau's Les Enfants Terribles, mention of which immediately calls attention to this work's superior quality as literature and imagination. Antal Szerb deserves our love and gratitude for depicting civilisation and its discontents with a loving mockery counterbalanced by a clear sense of the darkness and menace implicit in civilisation's overthrow (or latent in its roots). He knew so much and spoke so well, we are fortunate to have inherited this much of his genius.