Radio play “B. Traven “by Frédéric Sonntag – Medien

If you don’t want to risk being lied to, you shouldn’t ask questions. Because every answer carries the risk of deception. The French playwright Frédéric Sonntag quotes the writer B. Traven in his radio play B. Traven, which Christiane Ohaus staged with a playful ensemble. This abbreviated name is a pseudonym, Traven kept a secret about his identity all his life. So much seems certain that he was born in Lower Silesia in the early 1880s and lived mainly in Mexico from the 1920s. Most of his literary texts also play there. Traven, so the conclusion of Sonntags as a biography disguised fantasy, was probably simply a pleasure to lead people by the nose.

Frédéric Sonntag and Christiane Ohaus get involved in it B. Traven willingly a. The radio play is not about any truths about the person of this author, his most famous novel The death ship is to get closer. The play sometimes even deliberately falls short of the current state of knowledge of biographical and literary research.

Because Traven should not be unraveled here, but ultimately become a literary figure himself with changing identities and different roles: the novelist is also a screenwriter and journalist, revolutionary and anarchist, he pretends to be the agent and editor of his own work under an alias. Sometimes it’s called Traven, sometimes Ret Marut, sometimes Hal Croves. Much of it is considered biographically secured or at least plausible and reasonably likely. Sonntag makes free use of facts and assumptions and spans a narrative arc from the First World War to the financial crisis of 2009 – when Traven had been dead for 40 years.

So is B. Traven a high-spirited robber pistol that is set sometimes in Mexico, sometimes in the USA and then again in Europe. Often it is about political and cultural turmoil – stimulating uncertainty on all levels. As bonus material, the NDR provides Ernst Schnabel’s radio play production of The death ship from 1946 are available in the audio library.

B. Traven, NDR Kultur, December 22, 2021, 8 p.m.

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