English 110, Section 2978
23 November 2011
Subliminal or Straight Criticism?
In 1993, Bruno Traven’s Canasta de Cuentos Mexicanos was published. Although numerous people have read his work, many critics claim that Traven’s literature is nothing more than subliminal criticism. In an online “working paper,” writer Mr. Tapio Helenfrom the University of Helsinki, Finland, states that Traven’s ideology “is socialism and anarchism” (par 5) and Helen writes: “capitalism and bureaucracy make decent life impossible for the ordinary man.” Since Traven’s work of literature is full of subliminal criticism about capitalism functioning over subordinate countries, Traven has been the target of critics since his literature was firstpublished in the 1930s. Despite the controversial criticism surrounding his work, Traven accurately describes the American capitalistic system and its flaws.
Traven is more mysterious and difficult to find credible information about than the majority of authors. This is because there does not exist precise data, only theories about Traven’s origin. One of the reasons of this incognita is thatduring his life Bruno Traven had different names in order to keep his true identity hidden. Ret Marut, Traven Torsvan, and Hal Croves are the three names most associated with Bruno Traven. His wife, Mrs. Rosa Elena Lujan, said that Bruno Traven was an actor in Germany by the name of Ret Marut. According to the article written by Heather Mace: Ret Marut, who is thought to be the originalTraven, first appeared in 1907 as a small-time actor at Essen City Theater in Germany. He registered himself in Munich in 1915 claiming to be an American student and, in 1916, published To the Honorable Miss S... under the name Richard Maurhut. Amidst the outbreak of World War I, Marut began to establish himself as an anarchist, publishing the first issue of Der Ziegelbrenner, acommunist magazine, in 1917. In 1919, Murat became a censor for Munchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung, a German newspaper, and was involved in propaganda for the soviet government. Finally, Bruno Traven moved to America, under the name of Hal Croves where he lived until his death in Mexico in 1969.
Before Traven emerged, writers had begun their criticism about capitalism. In 1844, FriedrichEngels, in his “Identity Revisited,” became well known in multiple countries because of his critical essays in political economy. Also, Engels condemns the effects of private property on the working class and concludes that private property must be abolished. Steven Vincent, from North Carolina State University, wrote a biography of Pierre- Joseph Proudhon in the encycpledia of the 1848revolutions that states that “Proudhon began working [as] a well-known French Social theorist during the 1840’s.” Moreover, “Proudhon in his numerous articles criticized the policies of the government and continued to propose the reform of credit and exchange.” However, Traven finds ways to be original and concise. Traven also manages to be assertive with political messages within his literature every timehe creates a new story. Indeed, it is Traven’s satirical craftiness that makes his literature original and attractive to read.
Traven’s literature first appeared in the 1930s and gained rapid popularity in Germany, especially amongst workers. Traven wrote six Jungle novels, a Hexalogy depicting the capitalistic-bureaucratic exploitation system under which the Indians of Southern Mexico livedand the violent rebellion of the Indians. The personality of B. Traven is a mystery that has never been disclosed. Adventurer? Son of immigrants born in America? Politically exiled from Nazi Germany? What is known for sure is that he settled and lived until his death in Mexico, a country where all his novels were set and which he knew thoroughly, as is evident in his work. Traven’s stories...