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Karl-May-Forum • View topic - Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography

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 Post subject: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 11:42 am 
After a two-year journey with Karl May through his life and his adventures, Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story promises something for everyone--these are a few teaser snippets of advance reviews from both sides of the Atlantic ... :

"...[Savage To Saint] is a book about being human; deeply philosophical and as full of suspense as an adventure novel! It is one of the most important books I have ever read!

...Savage To Saint takes Chief ‘Winnetou’ and his legacy closer to his real-life fellow Amerindians for the first time.

...Savage to Saint not only offers superb translations of some of the finest Western pulp fiction of its era but a penetrating yet gentle study of the man who created it."

Not only did Karl May write adventure novels that have stood the tests of time, his own life evolved in the most adventurous fashion.

Anticipated release of Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story mid to end of June 2008.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 5:55 am 
Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story

Update 6 June 2008
Advance Reviews for Savage To Saint now on


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:05 am 
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Karl May a savage? Karl May a saint?

"Nee... da stimmt was nicht!" ["No... something is not right!"] I was told by a reader of May's adventure stories since his boyhood years. Well now, was Karl May really a 'savage' and a 'saint'?

This is how the Collins English Dictionary specifies the word 'savage' in connection with humans: "(of peoples) nonliterate or primitive; a savage tribe. A member of a nonliterate society, esp. one regarded as primitive. A crude or uncivilized person. A fierce or vicious person or animal."

Certainly not befitting what is known about the person Karl May.

Was Karl May a saint? Collins Dictionary has the following definition under 'saint': "a person who after death is normally recognized by a Christian Church, esp. the Roman Catholic Church, as having attained, through holy deeds or behaviour, a specially exalted place in heaven and the right to veneration. A person of exceptional holiness or goodness."

Again far from what we know about Karl May. Why than the label of 'savage' and 'saint' for Karl May?


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:51 am 
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I am afraid you are being obtusely, or rather—I should think—deliberately literal, Bill. Surely you can momentarily step back from personal differences with the author and realise that the terms “savage” and “saint” in the title are metaphorical in nature. I quote from my previous reply on this topic:

“Karl May’s story is one of extraordinary self-transformation. This is the key to understanding the evolution of the nature and aims of his work. It is why his work became progressively more profound, culminating in the sublime and transcendent “Winnetou IV”.

May was an acutely sensitive child born into exceptionally harsh times and circumstances. His chances for any success in life, especially in realising his creative potential, were exceedingly slim. Just at the point that he was poised upon a possibly fruitful path, he was subjected to heavy-handed persecution for extremely minor crimes (most likely false charges). These were the straws that broke the camel’s back, and May was plunged into terrible emotional trauma, leading to delusional adaptive behaviour. In order to shield himself emotionally, he embraced a sort of romantic criminality with youthful abandon. He had been forced to become a “savage” to retain a semblance of sanity.

The help, understanding, and friendship of prison catechist Johannes Kochta finally enabled May to turn back and commence upon a remarkable and exemplary path of self-perfection. By the 1890s, his moral and spiritual principles had reached an exceptionally high plane. The beautiful ideas he expressed in his works (which are adventures on the surface, but profound philosophical reflexions in substance) had become integral to his soul—he had become a “saint”. May himself would have denied the appellation, conferring that status on Winnetou as the perfected, transcendent human. But he bared his soul in his work, so we can see that, in the end, he and Winnetou were one.

The truly inspired title of Marlies Bugmann’s biographical study, “Savage to Saint”, is a concise and elegant expression of May’s transformative life journey—and it is accurate.”


Note that I employed quotation marks to further clarify the metaphorical nature of the terms in question, in anticipation of misleading objections like yours.

From the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary:

Main Entry: sav•age

Pronunciation: \ˈsa-vij\

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French salvage, savage, from Late Latin salvaticus, alteration of Latin silvaticus of the woods, wild, from silva wood, forest

Date: 13th century

1 a: not domesticated or under human control : untamed <savage beasts> b: lacking the restraints normal to civilized human beings : fierce, ferocious <a savage criminal>
2: wild , uncultivated <seldom have I seen such savage scenery — Douglas Carruthers>
3 a: boorish , rude <the savage bad manners of most motorists — M. P. O'Connor> b: malicious
4: lacking complex or advanced culture : uncivilized <a savage country>

Main Entry: saint

Pronunciation: \ˈsānt, before a name (ˌ)sānt or sənt\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French seint, saint, from Late Latin sanctus, from Latin, sacred, from past participle of sancire to make sacred — more at sacred

Date: 13th century

1: one officially recognized especially through canonization as preeminent for holiness
2 a: one of the spirits of the departed in heaven b: angel 1a
3 a: one of God's chosen and usually Christian people b: capitalized : a member of any of various Christian bodies ; specifically : latter-day saint
4: one eminent for piety or virtue
5: an illustrious predecessor


And from the definitions you provided:

Savage: A[n] uncivilised person.

Saint: A person of exceptional goodness.

May himself would consider the person he was in youth, once driven to criminality, as “uncivilised”. On the other hand May would have been too modest to call himself a “person of exceptional goodness”, but that is exactly what his late works reveal him to have become.

I think it should be clear to all by now that your arguments regarding this title are specious.

NOTE: I have edited this message in the interest of fairness.


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 4:01 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:48 am 
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Have you read “Savage to Saint”? I suspect not, since your message consists of several paragraphs of unrelated commentary, only to end with the now tired categorical assertion that “Karl May was neither a savage nor a saint”. Where are your supporting data and arguments? Or must we assume from the superfluous off-topic verbiage that you have none?

Was not Karl May in his youth wrongfully pushed into a criminal career?

Did not Karl May later turn his life around with the help of Johannes Kochta, and did he not acknowledge this himself?

Did not Karl May further evolve to higher planes of morality and spirituality, as shown by the progression of his writings?

Do you understand the use of figurative expressions?

If you are going to claim that Karl May’s life did not follow a path of remarkable self-transformation, you had better be prepared to prove it with a supporting argument of some substance.

Furthermore, had you read “Savage to Saint”, you would know that the title has a dual meaning, referring also to the transformation of the character Winnetou from a blood-thirsty warrior to a paragon of virtue and peace. And if you were receptive to some degree of subtlety, you would realise that the transformation of Winnetou through the years naturally mirrors that of May himself.


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:17 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:36 am 
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“Savage to Saint” does not need my defence. We are concerned here with the title and the truth of its meaning.

This discussion topic is the announcement of “Savage to Saint”. First Bill, then you, took it upon yourselves to post—in this topic—unsupported claims that the title, and thus the theme of the book, is erroneous. This followed a similar refrain in the topic of “Karl May und sein Zeit”, where Bill and Ms Baldwin both claimed—again without supporting data or arguments—that Karl May was neither savage nor saint. That was a deliberate reference to “Savage to Saint”. It is plain that this one-note claim has been repeated solely for the purpose of attacking the book’s author, for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the mission of this forum, but of which I am well aware.

Had your objections been of a scholarly nature, they would have been presented in that manner, as supported arguments. But that was not the intent. In Bill’s initial message under the other book topic, he crudely declared that all works on Karl May, other than “Karl May und sein Zeit”, belonged in a “black hole” to be forgotten. And, of all of the many works published about May over the decades, Bill mentioned only one—“Savage to Saint”, by a deliberately obvious inference. The true intent was as clear as spring water.

Let us return to the claim: three of you categorically assert that “Karl May was neither a savage nor a saint”. I have shown:

(1) That the title is figurative—that the words “savage” and “saint” were used to represent Karl May’s self-transformation from a young and sensitive person driven toward criminality, to a man of extraordinarily high moral and spiritual sensibility.

(2) That Karl May’s evolution as a person is expressed in the progression of his works, in which he bared his soul.

(3) That even the literal definitions of the words “savage” and “saint” could properly apply to the case.

(4) That the title also represents the transformation of Winnetou through the years, mirroring May’s own evolution.

The quotes from May that you provide do not actually oppose those statements. In addition, May wrote that to defend himself from vicious attacks, one of the bases of which was the false claim that May had deliberately lied to his public in claiming to have actually been Old Shatterhand and Kara Ben Nemsi: he had a very specific purpose.

You did not answer my questions. I’ll answer yours:

Did I make any specific mention of the biography that you champion?

Yes, by repeating the claim that Karl May was neither savage nor saint, in the discussion topic devoted to the book “Savage to Saint”.

Did I in any way denigrate it?

Yes, by claiming that the title, and thus the theme, was wrong, yet without producing a supporting argument. To categorically assert that the central premise of a book is wrong, and then provide no data or arguments to support the claim, is akin to slinging mud and running away.

Did I in my, as you call it 'unrelated commentary' offend or malign the work you defend so strenuously?

No. This is immaterial, since I did not accuse you of having done so.

Did I in any way address you personally or did I make assumptions about you or your character?

No.

Since I did not, what then is the purpose of your latest post?

I think that is obvious to any reader. You entered this discussion and repeated a claim. I patiently demonstrated again that it was false.

Is it to tell us that it is really Winnetou who is being referred to and that because of it the labels also refer to Karl May?

No. You have deliberately misrepresented my words. I stated that the expression “savage to saint” also applied to Winnetou.

I sha’n’t bandy words with you in e-mail. The effort would not be repaid. I have posted my messages here because this is one of the few English-language sources of information on Karl May, and it is important that this data is accurate—and that erroneous commentary be corrected.


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:03 pm 
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It seems to me that the discussion has reached its deepest level with the statement of Mr. Philip Colston that: "[Bill has] the purpose of attacking the book’s author,[i.e. Ms. Marlies Bugmann] for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the mission of this forum, but of which I am well aware."

I have nothing against Ms. Bugmann - why should I have? If you know Philip any of the by your alleged "personal reasons" of which you are "well aware" - please state them here publicly. Otherwise there is no point of carrying any discussion with you if you attack personally and insinuate denigrating things of other members of this Forum. Bill.


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:43 am 
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Whoah! Not so fast, Bill. You changed my words, by inserting your name! My original phrase was:

“It is plain that this one-note claim has been repeated solely for the purpose of attacking the book’s author, for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the mission of this forum, but of which I am well aware.”

What do you see in that sentence? Not your name, but the term “repeated”. What I stated was that the claim, initiated by you on the other discussion topic, was repeated (repeated by others with a competitive axe to grind) for the purpose of an indirect personal attack.

Now, I don’t know why you, Bill, chose to make such a negative comment about works on Karl May other than “Karl May und sein Zeit”, or why you cited “Savage to Saint” as one of them by a deliberate inference. Perhaps you would care to explain.

I do think it strange that you should object to the idea that Karl May transformed himself in his life journey, since your own scholarly work on May supports this to a degree. This conception does not show May in a poor light. On the contrary, it is a heroic story—an inspiration to all.


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:12 am 
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Mr. Colston,

Thank you for finally illuminating us all on the underlying reason for your defensive postings on this subject. Thank you also for telling us what you assume to be a fact.
Since you have chosen to now level your barb at me personally on a public forum, I believe I have gained the right to know not only the basis of your allegation but also the source.

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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:57 am 
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No, you are mistaken. I am not in involved in any personal contretemps, and thus have no stake in it (in fact, I value the work of both Nemsi Books and Marlies Bugmann). My point is very simple: I consider the claim (that the title and theme of “Savage to Saint” is wrong) erroneous. My view of Karl May’s life and work pre-existed the publication of that book. Let us consider the course of events:

When this forum was initiated, you and others contributed valuable information and commentary. I continued this plan when I joined the forum some time later, as can be seen by the nature of most of my many messages here.

After posting a couple of messages, you ceased participating, for reasons of your own. As time went by, the useful information available to English-speaking Karl May fans gradually increased, and the forum had a very pleasant atmosphere. It was perfectly consistent with the aims of the forum for Marlies Bugmann, and all Karl May translators, to comment on their work and announce the publication thereof.

Recently, out of the blue, your Nemsi Books representative Angela Baldwin posted a rather rude response to Ms Bugmann’s announcement of the German edition of the Winnetou trilogy, implying that it was superfluous in light of the Nemsi publication of their own translation. It is in poor taste, at best, to reply to an announcement like that with petty comments intended to diminish its importance or merit. It was clear that, at the very least, she—and likely others at Nemsi—objected to the use of the forum as an “advertising venue”. Since the Stiftung would not disallow publication announcements, the responsive tactic has been to instead denigrate the works in question, in their own announcement threads (making the intent clear): the trilogy by smarmy (and not altogether accurate) comments that it was not a premiere publication, and inferences that it was superfluous; and “Savage to Saint” by a direct attack of the very meaning of the title and book, without supporting data or reasoned arguments, as I have explained above.

Any neutral reader who follows these threads can understand what is going on. All you had to do, if anything, was to post your own announcements of publication. And if you had a scholarly objection to the theme of “Savage to Saint” (presuming you have read it), you might have started a new thread in a reasonable manner (rather than raining upon another person’s parade), and presented your objections logically, with supporting information. You and Ms Baldwin chose a very different course, and the reason is likely due to a combination of overzealous competitiveness, and resentment of the fact that another Karl May translator is proceeding on her own, outside of Nemsi Books.

I stand up for Right and truth wherever I can.


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 Post subject: Re: Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:53 pm 
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In this Forum are only matters about Karl May to be discussed. There is no place here for personal quarrels. For that purpose please use the e-mail! In the future polemic contributions, which have nothing to do with Karl May, will be deleted.

Ralf Harder
Karl-May-Stiftung Radebeul


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