Karl May - the deceiver turned his childhood into an adventure
Was Karl May a favorite author of Hitler and wrote his books in prison? Karl May, born 175 years ago, carries almost as many legends as his heroes. What is myth and what - true? Nobel Peace Prize winner Berta von Zutner says about his works: "If I had written at least one book like his, I would have done much more." Karl Friedrich May was born on February 25, 1842. The family has a total of 14 children, but 9 of them are very young. Karl May's youth passes the mark of failures. By 1874, he was twice detained and jailed, largely because of petty theft. Behind the gratings, Carl May draws up a list of the themes that are most excited about him and which can be used in the future in the writer's field. After his release from prison he returned to his parents, and in the autumn of that year his first story was published. It turns out that luck works on his part - because of the rapid development of printing in Germany, the demand for new prints is very high. A year later, his first novel, Old Fiercehold, appeared. But the true prominence comes with the appearance of Vinetou.
Carl May is the author of more than 80 volumes of novels, stories and poetry. Interestingly, all the stories of the Wild West advent, as well as the novel "Under the Shadows of the Padishah", whose work is developing in the Orient, are written by May without having himself set foot in America or the Orient . Only to the end of his life Karl May travels to the countries of the East, and America visits two years before dying. Is he the best-selling writer in Germany? Karl May was the first bestseller in Germany, considered him "the most read German writer," writes Michael Petzel in his book on Karl May. There is no exact data, however, because his books have been published in time before the Internet and electronic statistics. In addition, Karl May has written in his life so many works that his creativity is unimaginable. The total circulation of his works is estimated at more than 200 million copies, including their translations in more than 40 languages. Such prints today reach only the most popular authors like Joan K. Rowling, whose stories about Harry Potter have so far sold over 450 million times.
He wrote his books in prison? Karl May has actually been in prison several times - for petty thefts and strange scams, often due to lack of money. For example, he steals a leather coat once, and another five billiard balls. King is also half-lit candles. In addition, he has obtained considerable sums of money as a result of fraud. In 1870 he was sent for four years to the grilles, which is his longest jail time. However, the juvenile of knowledge knows everything that can be found in the prison library. And the readings to which he was unlikely to have had a chance to get acquainted form the basis of his extensive knowledge in many spheres. The books that make it famous are written much later. Describes trips he never did? Indeed, his books are built on the most diligent research - because May has read many "geographic books, travelogues and classic adventure novels," his biographer Thomas Kramer wrote. Indian concepts such as the names of the horses "Ilci" and "Hattila" (as they are called Vinetto's horses and the striking hand) Carl May finds in then specialized books such as "Twelve languages from the Southwest End of North America." But he has never done research on the spot. Almost all trips take place entirely in his imagination. Nevertheless, the writer presents himself as a "journeyman". Its publishers also spread this myth: for example, a famous German magazine writes, for example, in 1880, that May had "traveled all the places where the action in his adventure novels developed."
Was he never in these places? But that's not true. By 1875, when he published his first book about Vinetou, Karl May never left Germany. His foot has not traveled to other countries, and when his adventure novels turned into bestsellers in the 1890s. It was only at the end of his life that he traveled two longer journeys to the places where his books worked: in 1899/1900 he went to the Middle East and in 1908 to the United States. But it does not go to the Wild West, where the adventures of Vinetou and the Striking Hand are played - his journey ends with the Niagara Falls because his health is already quite shaken.