The Traveler Essay, Research Paper
Homosexuality has always and everywhere existed. Nazis considered homosexuality
as a tendency that could not be changed. It was assumed that a homosexual orientation could
not be eliminated, that only its exhibitions could be blocked. The Nazi system was concerned
with deviations from the norm, not only in religion and ethnicity, but also sexuality, and
attitudes toward it. As part of the Nazis’ attempt to purify German society and create an
“Aryan master race,” they condemned homosexuals as socially eccentric.
Antal Szerb took a big risk writing such a controversial novel. The Traveler contains
many sexual elements which can clearly be seen why it aggravated the Nazis into executing
him. In his days, theoretically, the economic system was characterized by the state?s plan to
control the economy and a single party held power. Their goal was to make everybody equal.
If it be color, race, religion, or belief; nobody was to be different. Even if his life style did
not reflect his novel, Antal Szerb jeopardized his life and career with what he wrote.
One of the themes in this novel was homosexuality. A dichotomous issue even today,
it was most likely not even mentioned out in public back then. Homosexuals were massively
persecuted and tortured. Many laws were passed by Nazis that targeted sex offenders. They
were given the worst kind of treatment in the concentration camps, but despite the obvious
hate the Nazis had for homosexuals, Antal Szerb still wrote about it for anyone to read. The
impression is there even though the book does not come out and directly say it. ?Tam?s was
my ideal. Eva, more of a bonus, an erotic tool in these games.? (Szerb, 270) Evidently, the
writer here is implying that the character has some what of a liking to his male friend, him
being male as well. Mih?ly?s character was very effeminate with a refined face and liking
a good wine. In his days many found this type of affair offensive even to speak of, and yet
Szerb wrote of it freely.
Another argumentative point was the fact that Erzsi had slept around so much with
men from other ethnic backgrounds and the way he described it. She was, you can say,
promiscuous. She slept with three different men.
True, her longing was spiced with her curious attraction to anything
exotic. She never thought it could turn real. And now, soon, her body would
feel the Persian?s burning touch. How strange and wonderfully frightening
it was to be waiting like this! (Pg. 247)
She worked herself into teeth chattering excitement. This would be
the night of her life . . . Finally, she would shed all her middle- class
conventions, all that was Budapest, and surrender herself to France?s deepest
night, in an ancient chateau, to a man who had paid for her, to an exotic
animal who would strip her of all her lady- like pretensions and she would
become like the dancers in the Bible or in the Thousand and One Nights.
This was the longing lurking in all her fantasies, even when she cheated on
Zolt?n with Mih?ly . . . And she chose wisely because her journey with
Mih?ly had led her to this moment. (Pg. 247)
Seeing as the Nazis were so concerned in making and keeping the perfect race, they
presumably found this very offensive. These were just the main examples of perhaps a
massive list the Nazis had against Szerb and his work. Despite all this, though, he wrote as
any person should be allowed to write- what he felt and what came naturally to him. It was
a sad way to die as a consequence to doing what he enjoyed.
Szerb, Antal. The Traveler. Trans. Peter Hargitai.
New York: Puski- Corvin, 1995.