Blast from the Past

Today is the 166th birthday of Karl May, the favorite writer of my childhood – well, adolescence, and someone who still holds a strange attraction for me. But then he exerted that strange attraction over generations of German-language readers (well, boys, mainly), while never really making any noticeable dent in other countries, or rather in translation (most of which were rather abysmal indeed). Nor have I ever heard any of my sophisticated US or French friends who are into film and admire the relatively little known work of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg discuss the second film – i.e. the Karl May film – that is flanked by one on Mad king Ludwig and one on Hitler. (Vincent Canby’s NYT review of the film is still available here). In Germany there is still an odd interest in the man’s work, with a new biography recently out, and various editions of his work re-issued every so often – for the curious, here’s a link to an English version of the on-line biography cum bibliography.
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  1. rodney k says:

    “Old Shatterhand”

  2. Andrei says:

    Growing up in Romania in the ’70s, I must have read at least twenty Karl May volumes (in translation) between the ages of seven and nine. I wish I could re-read them, but I’m living in the US now, and all my childhood books are long gone… Even if I could find English translations, I doubt they would have the same effect. Nostalgia is very pernickety in its demands.

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