The Bridge in the Jungle
Author: B Traven (d. March 26, 1969)
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
267 pages. Small octavo (7 3/4" x 5 1/4") bound in original publisher's grey cloth with blue lettering to spine in original jacket.. In the B Traven collected works series. First British edition.
The Bridge in the Jungle is a novel about the tragic death of Carlos, an 8 or 9 year old hyperactive Mexican boy, and the aftermath of his mother's overwhelming grief for him, sometime in the early 20th Century in a very poor village deep in the jungle. The narrator is an American man staying in the village while looking for alligator skins and bird feathers to sell in the U.S.. He observes the little boy's brother, who works in the oil industry in Texas and has just returned for the weekend, give his little brother brand new shoes. Carlos is overjoyed to wear them since all the villagers but the pump master's wife wear threadbare rags for clothes. This is the little boy's first pair of shoes, much less shiny new American ones. While sitting outside in the village with his host, both waiting for an outdoor party, the narrator hears an ominous splash that is Carlos falling to his death off the treacherous bridge, a bridge that has no railings. The remainder of the novel depicts the grief of the young mother - a grief that reaches the suffocating proportions of Greek tragedy - and her villagers' genuine support.
Like American authors Thomas Pynchon and J. D. Salinger, the reclusive Traven delighted in his personal anonymity and refused to grant interviews. Little is known about him; it is not even clear whether he was a native German or merely wrote in the language. It is clear from the descriptions in his novels that he lived and travelled extensively in Europe, the United States and Mexico.
On the basis of their writing styles, it has been suggested that Traven was a pseudonym for the German anarchist Ret Marut, who published an underground magazine in the last years of the Weimar Republic. Another identity for Traven may have been "Traven's agent", the seemingly English Hal Croves who worked with director John Huston while he was shooting The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. In interviews about the movie, Humphrey Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall, reported Huston had told her during filming that Croves was Traven, but Huston's wife at the time, Evelyn Keyes, later said Huston was skeptical of Croves. A dispute over a reduction in Croves' wages for his work on the film may have clouded the issue. Traven's widow, Rosa Elena Lujïn, supported speculations about both pseudonyms in an interview published in 1990 in The New York Times. The Times reporter notes that the irrelevance of formal identity is a central theme of The Death Ship. Traven's widow said that Traven had something like ten identities and "loved to tangle things up." The story notes that the identity of "Ret Marut" can be traced back to 1907, and that neither Traven's widow nor anyone else really knows who he was before that.
Most evidence points to Traven as German, but wild conjectures have been made as to his parentage. Some have suggested he might be the illegitimate son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, or Otto Feige, son of a German pottery worker from Schwiebus, Prussia.  The Encyclopï¿½dia Britannica states that he may have been born Berick Traven Torsvan in Chicago and that he grew up in Germany before settling in Mexico. The Penguin Encyclopedia, on the other hand, holds that he was born Albert Otto Max Frege in either Chicago or Poland. A biographical graphic novel on the life of Arthur Cravan has been published by Dark Horse Comics. Written by the publisher, Mike Richardson, and illustrated by Rick Geary, "Cravan" puts forth the idea that Cravan and Traven might be one and the same. Arthur Cravan was a Dadaist, a pugilist, and an all around larger-than-life personality who disappeared somewhere in Mexico around 1920. Cravan, like Traven, employed dozens of pseudonyms out of necessity or preference. Wikipedia
Jacket price clipped, spine ends and corners lightly chipped and rubbed, else very good in a like jacket.