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B. Traven (Germany, February 23, 1882 – Mexico City, March 26, 1969) is one of the many pseudonyms (Traven Torsvan, Hal Croves or Ret Marut) of Otto Feige, a managing editor of the Syndicate, actor and novelist who wrote in German and was famous in the USA mainly for being the author of the novel The Treasure of Sierra Madre (Der Schatz der Sierra Madre, 1927), which was the basis of a homonymous film directed by John Huston and played by Humphrey Bogart.
He was born as Otto Feige on February 23, 1882 in Schwiebus, East Brandenburg, in Germany (today Świebodzin, Poland). There he attends the elementary school of 1896-1899, from 1899-1900 he continues his professional training as an apprentice to a mechanical assembler, working in the learned trade. In 1901 change of address to Wallensen / Lower Saxony. He did his military service in Bückeburg from 1901-1903. From 1904-1906 he worked as a mechanical assembler in Magdeburg. From 1906-1907 he was manager of the Metal Workers Union in Gelsenkirchen. From October 1907 with the pseudonym of Ret Marut he was an actor in various theaters of the province and street vendors (in small and minimal roles), in the Danzig municipal theater and in the Düsseldorf theater. Since 1915 he was an independent writer and editor. Between 1917 and 1923 he worked under the pseudonym of Ret Marut. Being an anarchist, published between 1917 and 1919 in Munich a magazine dedicated to its dissemination, Der Ziegelbrenner (The brickmaker). In 1919 he allegedly took part in the ephemeral Bavarian Soviet Republic: he was one of the intellectual leaders of the Bavarian Republic of Councils of Workers, Soldiers and Peasants of Munich, created shortly after the end of the First World War. From February to April 1919 official of the Republic of Counselors of Munich, in this role on the search and capture list of the Bavarian police. He fled Germany and spent a short time in England in 1923. Traven killed Marut in 1924: “The Bavarian man from Munich has died,” he wrote in his diary on July 26, 1924.
It arrives at the Mexican port of Tampico in that same year and will be influenced by the Mexican Revolution; he writes his first novels. Already the first one makes him famous, not only in his native Germany, but in the rest of the world. Most pass in Mexico and narrate oppressed insurrections against their oppressors with a direct and simple style, but a great anthropological, cultural, social and moral sensibility.
From Mexico he sends his manuscripts, which are translated into 44 languages. However, Traven rejects both criticism and public light, thinking that his books should speak for themselves. This rejection of personal advertising makes it “a mystery”, although Traven is widely known among his group of friends in Mexico City, including Gabriel Figueroa, Tina Modotti, Frida Kahlo, Adolfo and Esperanza López Mateos (his first translator), Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Federico Canessi and Edward Weston, among many others. He defended his intimacy by spreading all kinds of lies about his biography and hiding from the public light almost always successfully:
Where is my homeland? Where I am and where no one wants to know who I am, or what I am doing, or where I am from: that is my homeland, my land. “(The ship of death).
In 1957 he marries in Mexico City with Rosa Elena Luján, her translator, attorney-in-fact and close companion. Traven continues to resist fame and publicity, and is fully dedicated to his work until his death in Mexico City on March 26, 1969. His last wish was that his ashes were scattered in the river Jatate, in the jungle of Chiapas , a place dear to the writer:
As soon as I feel my end approaching, I will take refuge like a beast in the thickest brush, where no one can follow me. There I will await the infinite wisdom with great devotion and reverence and will return, in peace and tranquility, to the great unity from which I emerged at birth. I will thank the gods if they have enough to satiate with my corpse the hunger of starving vultures and abandoned dogs, so that there is not even a little white bone.
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