Traven 1) because of his amazing and mysterious life story, of which no one knows much of anything, 2) his book The Treasures of the Sierra Madre which was made into a great movie by John Huston, or 3) that the author is the model for Benno von Archimboldi, the mysterious writer from Roberto Bolaño's 2666 (no one knows who B. Traven's "Jungle novels," six books which document the oppression of a people and their eventual uprising. He ekes out a living immorally fining and taxing the locals, and eventually gets into slave trading. It's a brutal story and it reminds me of the first season of The Wire in that it seems to be setting up the groundwork for an entire world, and it seems to be setting up awfulness to come.
This description could have been written a century later: "You cannot have cheap mahogany and at the same time...respect for the humanity of the Indian.
Every despicable person he meets, he marvels at their ruthlessness and their ability to grift, and shortly afterwards absorbs their misanthropy and greed and finds new ways to wring money out of human misery of his own creation. It's unsettling stuff, and I'm glad I started the Jungle Books series at #2 (The Carreta) because this initial offering is a little too bleak.
The many methods used by Don Gabriel and his colleagues to exploit the Indians for commercial gain are portrayed with a level of detail which is entirely convincing and an extraordinary feat for a non-native writer.
"dictatorships and military regimes don't hold with complaints and the right to complaints even if they had had a receipt to show. Dictatorships and military regimes don't hold with complaints and the right to complain; and those who open their mouths get shown as disturbers of the peace and resistors of authority. There's also commentary regarding the Indios "With Indians, as with other peoples, the character of a husband or a wife only beings to show itself in its true colors when there is no further need to keep up a high standard or to pretend to one; whether this happens in two weeks or two years after marriage depends on the durability and vigor of the pretense. The strength of their feelings is so deep, so genuine -- because it is so primitive -- so violent and so true that they lack all power to dissemble them. It is not a mask to hide their true feelings; it is merely a spontaneous protection against the outbreak of overwhelming and violent emotion.
Like 'The White Rose', Traven uses the Native Indians of Mexico as the protagonists, pushed and provoked by ruthless Capitalists who have no choice but to start a revolution against the corrupt Don Porfirio Diaz.
While planning an upcoming trip to Mexico, I came across his name again in relation to his "jungle novels," a six-book series set in pre-revolutionary southern Mexico. But the final third contains the narrative threads that the first part sets the stage for, although the reader gets no clue what's to come.
Traven lived much of his life in Mexico, where the majority of his fiction is also setincluding his best-known work, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927), which was adapted as the Academy Award nominated film of the same name in 1948. B. Traven is the author of twelve novels, one book of reportage and several short stories, in which the sensational and adventure subjects combine with a critical attitude towards capitalism, betraying the socialist and even anarchist sympathies of the writer. Traven's books were published in German first and their English editions appeared later; nevertheless the author always claimed that the English versions were the original ones and that the German versions were only their translations.