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Karl-May-Forum • View topic - Colportage.

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 Post subject: Colportage.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:09 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Colportage.
PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:25 am 
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Colportage - the work of a colporteur - the latter being defined as a peddler of devotional literature. It is interesting to note the French influence here as the French word comporteur, meaning to conduct or peddle, has been altered to colporteur in order to reference the neck (col) from which such peddlers suspended the trays containing their wares. One might recall images of the cigarette girls in the cinemas of a time long ago. Anyhow, today we would no doubt call these peddlers, itinerant salesmen, hawkers, pushers or cheapjacks. In other words, vendors or dealers that sell cheap goods. The operative word being cheap, perhaps even inferior or appealing to the many vices of mankind.

This then is the basis of the colportage 'literature' that caused Karl May so much strife in his day. Today, however, our world has become far more accepting of the things that were written about in these 'pulp' novels.

I recently came across a 'softcover' book published in 1913 by the 'Verlag der Rundschau Publishing Co.' from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The dual title of this 24th volume of their 'library', containing two stories, being 'Eine germanische Fuerstentocher' and 'Die Liebe siegt' - the titles alone give some idea of what these stories might be about without my elaborating on them.

In comparison to these two stories, 'Die Liebe des Ulanen' [see the English version (part 1) translated by Robert Stermscheg under the title 'The Prussian Lieutenant'] is far richer in plot and excitement and yet much more mundane whilst still appealing to the senses that keep the reader turning the pages with anticipation.

Why then was there so much ado about these colportage novels? The answer can be found in Karl May's own writings.

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