Talk:Baron Munchausen

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 Definition A fictional character originated by Rudolf Erich Raspe in a series of stories which were first published in the 1780's. [d] [e]

How Exciting!!! I can help here. :)Nancy Sculerati 09:09, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Nancy -- delighted to hear that. This could be quite an interesting opportunity for some collaborative work between the Literature and Medicine workgroups! Go ahead and tag it as such if you agree. Russell Potter 09:20, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Let's pin down the history

" is unknown who, between 1781 and 1783, published a number of phantasy tales related to von Münchhausen in the "Vademecum für lustige Leute", a collection of anecdotes, published in Berlin. It was another German scholar by the name of Rudolph Erich Raspe (1737-1794) who translated these stories into English. The tales were published in London under the title "Baron Munchausen's narrative of his marvellous travels and campaigns in Russia". The publication of the tales was anonymous and thus it happened that an unknown author and Raspe added to the literature a contemporary personality by mentioning Münchhausen's name, although most probably they never met him personally. Obviously, in the English edition the German name Münchhausen was translated to Munchausen. Half a year later G.A. Bürger from Göttingen translated Raspe's oevre once again using these stories as material to exaggerate still further or to compose other tall tales of a similar mode. Recent Münchhausen research has shown that Baron Munchausen's adventures were already available in the United States between 1787 to 1789 (8). The second part of Baron Munchausen adventures at sea begins with the words: "In the year 1766 I embarked at Portsmouth ... for North America". quoted from:Reichart PA. Grote M. Munchhausen syndrome or Muchausen syndrome? Two names--one syndrome. Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine. 30(8):510-2, 2001 Sep. UI: 11545245

We need to review this reference. Do you speak German? Wiebel B. Münchhausen - Raspe - Bürger: ein phantastisches Triumvirat. Einblick in die Munchhausen-Szene und die Münchhausen-For-schung mit einem besonderen Blick auf R. E. Raspe. In: Münchhausen - Vom Jägerlatein zum Weltbestseller. Münchhausen-Museum Bodenwerder. Göttingen: Arkana Verlag, 1998.

My German is rather limited, but I have always taken an interest in Munchausen and have read a few critical studies and histories which detail Raspé's career. I think the current text makes it clear that the earliest tales (1781-83) were anonyous; Raspé himself was not merely a translator of them but added numerous touches of his own as well as original tales; some critics seem to think Raspé may have been the anonymous writer (Raspé, who was in terrible trouble for filching some gold medallions in Paris which he was entrusted with, was already 'on the run from the law,' and penniless, when he arrived in London and started writing). With him, as with his successors, plagiarism and silent additions of bits and pieces were the rule rather than the exception! I will look through my library and see what additional sources I can find to clarify this period! Russell Potter 14:40, 29 May 2007 (CDT)
I have found and cited a reference in the entry for Raspé in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, supporting Raspé's having been the author of at least some of the early German tales, then the translator/augmentor of the first two collections; with these both almost immediately re-translated into German and again augmented by Bürger. From there, the stories are a maze, a crazy-quilt of borrowing, thievery, and embroidering -- I have just mentioned the best-known/most significant ones. Russell Potter 17:20, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

A Note on Names

  • It might be noted that the eponymous character is spelt Munchausen (single h, no diacritics in English, cf. e.g. [1]), while the actual person on whose life this specimen of lie literature was partly based, was called Münchhausen (double h). The article seems to vacillate here. Might it be a good idea to mention the discrepancy explicitly?
  • The name of the author is Raspe: no accent on the e. Bessel Dekker 02:45, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I checked it out (Britannica, Columbia, and WP), Bessel seems right (see also title page 1st ed.), I changed the spelling everywhere in the article.--Paul Wormer 09:02, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
In addition, I made some alterations to the section on "Raspe's Münchhausen" (see diff, [2]) and made explicit mention of the divergences in spelling.
Which leaves open the question whether mention should be made of the tradition in which Raspe wrote: the German Lügenliteratur ("lie literature, literature of lies") dating from the Middle Ages? Of course, Lucian is mentioned, but there seems to have been an extensive later tradition. Bessel Dekker 12:36, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Personally, I have never heard of Lügenliteratur, so I haven't any idea how much space it would take. One or two extra sentences in the present article wouldn't be amiss. But if there is more to say about Lügenliteratur, a separate article plus link in the present article would be nice.--Paul Wormer 13:02, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I'll link tall tale in the article and write a stub later today. Bessel Dekker 13:52, 9 March 2010 (UTC)