Ex Libris Kirkland

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Subtitle Vols 1 & 2
Translator Michael Shaw
First Written 1893
Genre Western
Origin Germany
Publisher Seabury Press
My Copy library hardback
First Read February 22, 2017


Winnetou is one of the best-loved works by German author Karl May, who churned out dozens of adventure and travel stories. I first learned about the German's interest in native american culture by seeing this ridiculous doc in the New York Times.. But recently someone recommended this, and said I should give Karl May a try - why not start with his most famous characters, Old Shatterhand and Winnetou?

Normally, I have a soft spot for adventure pulp. I especially enjoy where the westerner European 'heros' end up sort of looking like vaguely racist dicks (see H. Rider Haggard for reams of example). But this is just amateury pulp, and not in a compelling way for me. I don't have much interest in, or sympathy for the american west or cowboys & indian stories, and an uptight German dude as a cowboy hero just makes it much, much worse. There's a lot of honor talk in a way that could be very cowboy-hero-like, but it doesn't have that slightly bemused aloofness that I like in my cowboys and samurais. Instead, Old Shatterhand (our German hero) just reads as prickly. The plot and exposition is painful, too.

Noted on February 28, 2017

That's it, young man! That's the way! But don't get conceited because I am praising you! A teacher occasionally has to praise even the dumbest boy if he doesn't want him to repeat everything. But if you continue like this, it may no longer be necessary to call you a greenhorn six or seven years from now. Till then, you can console yourself with the common experience that sometimes a stupid fellow will get as far or farther than a smart one, if I'm not mistaken.

Quoted on February 28, 2017

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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