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Book Cover for: Journey by Moonlight, Antal Szerb

Journey by Moonlight

Antal Szerb

An early-twentieth-century classic -- the turbulent, dreamlike story of a businessman torn between middle-class respectability and sensational bohemia

"No one who has read it has failed to love it." -- Nicholas Lezard

Mihály and Erzsi are on honeymoon in Italy. Mihály has recently joined the respectable family firm in Budapest, but as his gaze passes over the mysterious back-alleys of Venice, memories of his bohemian past reawaken his old desire to wander.

When bride and groom become separated at a provincial train station, Mihály embarks on a chaotic and bizarre journey that leads him finally to Rome, where he must reckon with both his past and his future. In this intoxicating and satirical masterpiece, Szerb takes us deep into the conflicting desires of marriage and shows how adulthood can reverberate endlessly with the ache of youth.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Pushkin Press Classics
  • Publish Date: Apr 30th, 2024
  • Pages: 304
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 7.50in - 4.90in - 0.90in - 0.55lb
  • EAN: 9781805330240
  • Categories: LiteraryPsychologicalWorld Literature - Hungary

About the Author

Antal Szerb was born in Budapest in 1901. Though of Jewish descent, he was baptised at an early age and remained a lifelong Catholic. He rapidly established himself as a formidable scholar, through studies of Ibsen and Blake and histories of English, Hungarian and world literature. He was a prolific essayist and reviewer, ranging across all the major European languages. Debarred by successive Jewish laws from working in a university, he was subjected to increasing persecution, and finally murdered in a forced labour camp in 1945. Pushkin Press publishes his novels The Pendragon Legend, Oliver VII and his masterpiece Journey by Moonlight, as well as the historical study The Queen's Necklace and Love in a Bottle and Other Stories.

Len Rix was born in Zimbabwe and now lives in Cambridge. He is the translator of all Szerb's work published in English and his translations have been widely celebrated, earning him the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize and the PEN Translation Prize.

Praise for this book

"Journey by Moonlight is a beautiful book, the sort of book that stays imprinted on some soft part of you for a long time. Its intelligence is so humane--so forgiving to the last...And from the wreckage of the Holocaust, from such horrible annihilation, from such a violent silencing of so many voices, this extraordinary novel emerges as another improbable survival." --Becca Rothfeld, The New Republic

"A devastatingly intelligent novel of love, society and metaphysics in a mid-1930s Europe....As a study of erotic caprice, Journey by Moonlight is brilliant, but it is so much more than just a romp." --Toby Lichtig, The Times Literary Supplement

"A writer of immense subtlety and generosity....Can literary mastery be this quiet-seeming, this hilarious, this kind? Antal Szerb is one of the great European writers." --Ali Smith

"Just divine...I can't remember the last time I did this: finished a novel, and then turned straight back to page 1 to start it over again. That is, until I read Journey by Moonlight...It's a comedy, but a serious and slyly clever one, the kind of book that makes you imagine the author has had private access to your own soul...Len Rix [has] managed to translate Szerb's book into beautifully fluent English, and what we have is a work of comedy and depth, the comedy all the more striking in that the chief subjects of the book are abnegation and suicide...No one who has read it has failed to love it." --Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

"A novel to love as well as admire, always playful and ironical, full of brilliant descriptions, bon mots and absurd situations...it's a book utterly in love with life." --Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Guardian, Books of the Year

"This radiantly funny and intelligent novel...shows its author to be one of the masters of twentieth-century fiction. Len Rix's loving translation of a book that might have remained lost to us deserves special praise." --Paul Bailey, The Times Literary Supplement, International Books of the Year

"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...May Szerb's re-entrance into our literary pantheon be definitive." --Alberto Manguel

"Mihály's relationship with Tamás is so myopic and worshipful as to bring back memories of Death in Venice, but I respect Szerb's book more...the book is one of the few written before the deluge that acknowledges a bourgeois unreality with an unblinkered eye." --David Auerbach

"One of the friends I mentioned put a small book in my hand and said: 'Len, you must read this. Every educated Hungarian knows and loves this book.' It was Antal Szerb's Utas és holdvilág. Within a few pages I knew it was a great European novel, and I determined not just to translate it but to try and give it a translation of the literary quality it deserves." --Len Rix

"A veritable avalanche of brilliant perceptions...It's all so earnest, so up-to-date, so symbolic, so sophisticated, so marvelously pleased with itself and yet so naïve and unhappy you don't know whether to consume the book at a sitting or throw it away...Journey by Moonlight is a burning book, a major book." --George Szirtes

"A stealthy masterpiece...both comic and beautiful." --The Telegraph

"Wonderfully wry...We owe thanks to Len Rix, Szerb's accomplished translator, for his part in raising from the dead a writer of such cool irony and historical sympathy." --New Statesman

"[A] great masterpiece of high modernism...a bildungsroman of the twentieth century itself. In translator Len Rix's gifted hands, it becomes a powerful and poignant testament to Antal Szerb's learning and speaks to his many accomplishments...At its heart, Szerb's narrative is a remarkable, painstaking study of a man's fascination with his own mortality." --Carla Baricz, Words Without Borders