The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Paperback – 1 Jan 1996
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"Traven's philosophical anarchism, his disengagement, his scorn for regimentation and material goods and his love of individual liberty and the primitive past could, conceivably, command as much reverence form the new generation as does Henry David Thoreau."--William Weber Johnson, "Los Angeles Times"
"He tells his story better than the best storytellers; delves deeper into characters than most so-called psychological writers. All the virility, terseness and tension that Hemingway worked so hard for...seem to be Traven's by birthright."--John Anthony West, "Books and Bookmen"
Traven's philosophical anarchism, his disengagement, his scorn for regimentation and material goods and his love of individual liberty and the primitive past could, conceivably, command as much reverence form the new generation as does Henry David Thoreau. "William Weber Johnson, Los Angeles Times"
He tells his story better than the best storytellers; delves deeper into characters than most so-called psychological writers. All the virility, terseness and tension that Hemingway worked so hard for...seem to be Traven's by birthright. "John Anthony West, Books and Bookmen"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
This is a story of three down-and-out Americans in Mexico who set out to discover gold in the mountains. It is a social fable involving a group of highly individual characters caught up in a search for treasure. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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This review is written from the perspective of someone who has seen the film at least a half dozen times before reading the novel for the first time. The film is mostly faithful to the novel, so no nasty surprises await those weaned on the film. While less dramatic in some ways, the book provides a better explanation for the motivations of the characters. This necessarily leads to significant, though not unpleasant, changes in some of their fates compared to the film (or perhaps, better said, vice-versa). Some of the more interesting scenes also are expanded, such as the encounter with the bandits at the camp, and more background is provided about the bandits themselves and the efficient and clever way that they are ultimately dealt with by the local people.
Though a little slow going at first, once accustomed to Traven's writing style and well into the meat of the story, the feeling of the realization that a very special experience is in store for you simply builds and builds and continues doing so until the satisfying conclusion of the book is reached. This is a masterpiece, a gourmet treat for the soul, a book to relish during a lazy morning spent in a soft bed, or sitting by a cozy fireplace.
As in many screen adaptations, seemingly ancillary elements were culled for the film. However, those elements, namely the description of the factors which led to the oppression of the native peoples of Mexico, provides a pervasive, unifying theme throughout the novel. This lends an enriching, interesting counterpoint to the story of the central characters.
There is a tiny bit of information given about the mysterious B. Traven, just enough to make you want to learn more. A speculative look at his identity is presented in the extras which are included with the newly-released reissue of the film on DVD.
Well, I'm no anarchist and you don't have to be either to enjoy this masterpiece. That, by the way, is true about all of Traven's works.
What makes this novel so appealing is B. Traven's writing style. He is very straightforward in telling the story of three men hoping to hit it big. Also, Traven tells several stories about the history of gold in Mexico through the grizzled old prospector, Howard. These asides help to support the idea of the effect of gold and its power over anyone who comes across it. And if you enjoy this book, I highly recommend seeing the John Huston movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, and Tim Holt. For a great read that brings the reader into a completely different world, check out The Treasure of the Sierra Madre!