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B Traven and the Jungle Novels

British Arrest Photo for Ret Marut (B Traven?)

One of the mysteries of 20th century literature was the identity of B Traven, who is probably best known for having written the novel that the film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947) was based on. In the late 1960s I first ran into the subject from a leftist magazine, probably Ramparts, which in the 1960s speculated that Traven was a German author and anarchist named Ret Marut who fled to Mexico in the early 1920s.

While in Mexico, B Traven wrote a series of novels that dealt with the exploitation of the Indian population by Europeans and Ladinos (Europeanized Mestizos). In addition to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927) and The Bridge in the Jungle (1929), which I think is his masterpiece, he published six Jungle Novels:

  • Government (1931)
  • The Carreta (1931)
  • The March to the Monteria, a.k.a. The March to Caobaland (1933)
  • Trozas (1936)
  • The Rebellion of the Hanged (1936)
  • A General from the Jungle (1940)

To date, I have real all but Trozas, but I am about to remedy that within the next few weeks.

Traven lived in Mexico until his death (at the age of 87?) in 1969.