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Karl-May-Forum • View topic - Biography of Karl May in Documents and Pictures

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 Post subject: Biography of Karl May in Documents and Pictures
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 8:55 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:58 am
Posts: 100
Location: Melbourne Australia


The ultimate story of Karl May's life and his times ["Karl May und Seine Zeit - Bilder, Dokumente, Texte"] has finally reached Australian shores, thanks to Mr. Ralf Harder. It arrived in the form of a book of somewhat large dimensions (23 x 32 cm) in hard cover, beautifully printed on premium picture paper with lots of colour photos and reproductions of original documents concerning Karl May, on 592 pages. Published in 2007 by Karl-May-Verlag in Bamberg, Germany, the authors are Gerhard Klussmeier and Hainer Plaul. The reader can only admire them, their effort and patience in collecting all the documents, photos, old magazines where the first stories of our author had been published, maps and newspaper cuttings. It was the first time I saw the faces of Karl May's teachers, friends, critics, publishers, enemies, his nearest and dearest and many others, who played a role in his life, and in turn in my life as well.
There is not much of German text in it, but plenty of unique and enjoyable pictographically presented story of Karl May's life and times, understandable to friends of Karl May who would not need German language to enjoy the unique book. The authors present Karl May as he was - neither a savage nor a saint - closely matching facts fully supported and documented with the story of Karl May's life as he himself penned it down in his autobiography "My Life and my Mission", published in English translation by Nemsi Books Publishers.
No biography of Karl May in English or German does exist to rival this book. It can not, as it is hard or impossible to argue with black on white facts, be it in the form of documents or photos testifying and verifying Karl May's story as it happened. All other attempts to describe his life are destined to fade away in time, ending in the black hole of forgotten prints. As an author of a book on Karl May myself, I compared what has been written by various people about Karl May, and how wrong they all have been, and wondered what they would have to say now, staring directly at documents and facts they can not deny. There have been words in the past - however in this book we are presented with not verbal or second hand stories, but original authentic documents, photos, we see real men and women exactly as Karl May had seen them. I expected these people to step out from the pages at any moment and become alive again, telling me more and more details which did not make it into this remarkable book. I liked the two women in Karl May's life, their delicate faces, how attractive they have been in their prime as young women. I liked the energetic appearance of his first book publisher who contributed to his fame and glory. Then I stared at the face of his mortal enemy, who destroyed Karl May's position of honest member of the society he worked so hard to achieve.
In my profession I have been dealing with facts, and facts only. This book by Klussmeier and Plaul does present the factual story of Karl May's life, not surpassed in my opinion by any other. Anyone who wants to know Karl May and his times has to read this excellent publication.


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 Post subject: Re: Biography of Karl May in Documents and Pictures
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 12:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 12:05 pm
Posts: 168
Location: U.S.A.
Bill,

I have heard of the excellent book you have reviewed above, but have not actually seen it in person. It seems to me to be a fully comprehensive treasure trove of actual photographic and printed material pertaining to Karl May, but as far as I can see from descriptions available on the internet, it is not a biography in the traditional sense.

There is no reason, while praising what appears to be a truly remarkable and wonderful book, to denigrate the work of others—especially work that is in an entirely different genre (the biography, in which both facts and analytic interpretation are provided). To say that all works on May, other than “Karl May und sein Zeit”, are destined to wind up in a “black hole” is an outright insult, as well as a categorical assertion devoid of supporting data or arguments. And if we are to take your comment seriously (as opposed to a rash mis-statement by one in the throes of passion over a delightful new discovery, which would be my guess), then your own book on May, which you mentioned in your post, must necessarily find itself amongst the forgotten prisoners of the “black hole” :( —yet “Karl May: A Medical Casebook” has been of great value and assistance to me (as well as others, I am certain).

It was disheartening to note your undisguised dismissal of “Savage to Saint”, Marlies Bugmann’s English-language biography of May. :cry: If you are critical of this work, you should specifically state your objections, and provide supporting arguments. I found “Savage to Saint” insightful and beautiful—and it is of an entirely different nature than “Karl May und sein Zeit: Bilder, Dokumente, Texte” (“Karl May and his Times: Pictures, Documents, Text”, for English-speaking forum readers), so much so that comparison would be meaningless.

The world of Karl May has room for all sorts of ideas and works. As far as I am concerned, as long as they do not attack May, the more, the merrier. 8)

--Philip


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 Post subject: Re: Biography of Karl May in Documents and Pictures
PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:36 pm
Posts: 25
Location: USA
Hi Bill

This sounds like a wonderful book for anyone who is eager to learn more about Karl May. The fact that it has so many documents, photos and other items that were a part of May’s life give’s the reader a better sense of who he was and the difficulties he faced. We all have heroes that we admire for one reason or another and it is human nature to want to learn as many details as possible about these heroes. This book is an opportunity to see another part of Karl May’s world as he witnessed it. It is going to be a wonderful addition to our Karl May library.

You are right in saying Karl May was “neither a savage nor a saint”, but then this is true for most of us. The one thing everyone must agree on is the man was brilliant. He had to be, in order to write such exciting stories that have stood the test of time. I have read many peoples opinion on his Dissociative Identity Disorder including your own, which by the way was written with more compassion and understanding than others. I believe many geniuses have D.I.D and Karl May was no exception.

The first thing I am trying to teach the children that are reading Karl May today is who the man was, what he stood for and to look for the messages he was trying to bestow upon mankind. The attitude of society today needs thought provoking material like Karl May’s stories if it’s going to change for the better. It’s wonderful to chase your dreams but not at the expense of others in the manner Lebius did. The children who read these books must look beyond just the good adventure story. Our children have lost empathy and lost the ability to imagine without some form of visual aid, therefore this book will be a tremendous teaching tool.

Thank you for bringing this book to everyone’s attention.

_________________
Angie Baldwin - Nemsi Books http://www.nemsi-books.com


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 Post subject: Re: Biography of Karl May in Documents and Pictures
PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:23 am 
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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.

Empathy is a learned behaviour. Children do not naturally possess it, so can not be correctly said to have “lost” it. It is not empathy (a subjective and often artificial emotion that is frequently used as a tool of manipulation) that people need in order to live in peace. Karl May stood for justice, morality, and peace as high principles arising from reason, as well as emotion and spirituality. Only when humans understand why they must choose right over wrong are they likely to do so in unfavourable circumstances. To try to inculcate the almost mindless emotion of empathy in young people, and then hope to rely upon that totally unpredictable feeling (which usually flees when things go bad) as the means to peace and Right, is to condemn humans to repeat the past forever.

The reading of Karl May’s work can have a very positive effect on the moral development of young people, though such reading is most effective when engaged upon by choice rather than compulsion (I imply nothing with regard to comments above).


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 Post subject: Re: Biography of Karl May in Documents and Pictures
PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:29 pm 
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Hello Mr. Colston,

Your remarks sound very interesting. However you should direct your contribution to the appropriate section, as your conclusions are not concerning the bibliography. Address your remarks therefore to the section "Savage To Saint, The Karl May Story - English Biography" - .

With best regards
Ralf Harder


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 Post subject: Re: Biography of Karl May in Documents and Pictures
PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 3:26 pm 
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Hello, Mr Harder,

I don’t think I was specifically discussing the book “Savage to Saint”. Rather, I was addressing the comments above that claimed that Karl May “was neither a savage nor a saint”, which I thought missed the truth about May entirely. By those comments, Bill himself deliberately brought “Savage to Saint” into the topic. Is his review perhaps in the wrong section?

On a healthy forum, discussions often branch into related areas. To attempt to avoid this would stifle discussion as well as the exchange of ideas and information—which are the raison d’être of all legitimate internet forums.

I could add my comments to the “Savage to Saint” topic, but I would have to leave off the last two paragraphs, since they are in response to comments above, and have nothing at all to do with the book.

Nothing about the discussion above detracts from the book “Karl May und sein Zeit”, which is obviously a very important addition to the world of Karl May. However, a forum discussion need not be simply an advertisement for a book, no matter how excellent it is.

If we are to follow your suggestion literally, then Ms Baldwin’s comments above also do not belong under this topic, since she mentioned “Karl May und sein Zeit” only in passing. In addition, had I not replied to Bill’s review, his rather unfair denigration of all other books on May would have stood unchallenged. No matter how good the bibliography is (and I am sure it is superb), it does not make all other May scholarship into rubbish!

I confess I am surprised at this sudden concern for topicality.

Yours Sincerely,

Philip Colston


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