A few months back I read Stoner by John Williams. I was so moved by this book that I did a little research and found that it was a reissue of this book by the New York Review of Books. I was very eager to find more books like Stoner and I was pleased when I found so many fantastic books available on their website. Many of their titles are translations of literature into English. You can read more about their unique titles on their website: http://www.nybooks.com/books/about/
I have recently read two more wonderful titles in translation from the New York Review of Books. I received advanced copies of both of these titles from the publisher through Edelweiss. The first novel, translated from the Hungarian and originally published in 1937, is entitled Journey by Moonlight. The novel begins when Mihaly and Erzsi are on their honeymoon in Italy. They are accidentally separated when Mihaly takes the wrong train and this physical separationfrom Erzsi mirrors Mihaly’s mental separation from reality. We are brought on a journey through Italy and through Mihaly’s many mental states: he vacillates among many moods which include anxiety, depression, paranoia, euphoria and numbness. Throughout his lone journey he encounters some of his childhood friends from Budapest that make him terribly nostalgic for his youth. He really can’t go home and face the mundane life of working in his father’s firm and dealing with his family. He feels that he is trapped in Italy but really has no plan or purpose for being there either. The author also writes the story from Erzsi’s point of view at several times in the narrative. Erzsi, once left on her own, is also forced to make important decisions about her life and future.
There are so many interesting aspects to this book that it is difficult to truly do it justice in a brief review. The characters, although they tend to make stupid and impulsive decisions, are fascinating nonetheless. The way that the author simultaneously explores major themes such as love, relationships, and death throughout the narrative is truly an amazing literary feat. JOURNEY BY MOONLIGHT is a fascinating study of the human mind and I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates true literary genius. For more on this book and where to preorder here is the link on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20176024-journey-by-moonlight.
The next book is entitled Agostino and is a translation from the Italian that was first published in 1944. This brief story is a bold and daring peak into one boy’s transition from boyhood to adulthood. The author tackles some taboo and Freudian issues through a brief period of time in Agostino’s life. Agostino is a 13 year old boy who is vacationing at a beach with his mother, whom he still views with innocence at the beginning of the story. His mother starts to take boat rides with a man and Agostino grows very jealous. When Agostino starts to hang around with a rough gang of older boys they clue him in to the possible sexual relationship his mother is having with her gentleman friend.
This book has so many complex layers in its few pages. Agostino struggles with fitting in among his peers, his blooming sexual awareness, and his changing relationship with his mother. He is left frustrated at the cruel nature of this transitional period in his young life. I highly recommend AGOSTINO to anyone who wants to experience a true coming of age story that is realistic and eye opening. For more information on this title and where to preorder here is the link on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18666080-agostino
Up next on my reading list from the New York Review of Books is the The Mad and The Bad and Tristana. What classics are on your reading list? Let me know in the comments!
5 responses to “Review: Journey by Moonlight and Agostino from NYRB Classics”
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Spooky: this review is about Journey by Moonlight and Agostino. I’ve just reviewed Agostino, as you know, and will review the Szerb this month as it’s our Book Club choice for February!
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I loved Journey by Moonlight! It is one of my all time favorites and it really surprised me. I look forward to reading your review of that one too.