London: Chatto & Windus, 1934. First English edition. Hardcover. 311 pp. Octavo [21.5 cm]; full brick red cloth, gold stamping to spine, publisher's red topstain matches cloth. Clean and solid text. Text block leaning forward a bit, cloth lightly faded at spine. In the uncommon dust jacket, complete, but with some sunning, wear, and rubbing at spine and edges. The dust jacket folds are starting to split. First English language edition of this novel, preceding the first American edition by several months. Very good / good +. Item #42090
Traven's most brilliant novel. A sardonic work about identity and a satire on faceless bureaucracy. The American sailor, Gales, has no papers; therefore, in the eyes of the authorities, he does not exist. In order to escape from Europe he is forced to sign aboard a "Death Ship" -- a dark comedy of errors ensues.
The Death Ship/Das Totenschiff was originally written in English in 1923 or 1924. Traven translated it into German at the request of Buchergilde Gutenberg editor Ernst Preczang who was impressed by the serialization of Die Baumwollpflucker in Vorwarts. Das Totenschiff was then published in Berlin by Buchergilde Gutenberg in 1926. It was the first book to appear under the Traven name and its success established Traven's reputation. "The first English language edition, The Death Ship, was a translation from German by Eric Sutton published by Chatto & Windus in January 1934. Several months later an English language version by Traven was published by Knopf." Treverton 31.