Karl May’s German-language novel of the American West has been a perennial favorite in Europe since its release in 1892. The story of the German-born frontiersman “Old Shatterhand” and his Apache companion “Winnetou” in the western plains and mountains has been reprinted innumerable times, made into films and plays, and has inspired musical compositions. Today in Germany, Old West enthusiasts by the tens of thousands attend outdoor “Karl May” festivals each summer. Yet, despite Karl May’s immense popularity in Europe, this prolific author of adventure fiction is virtually unknown in the United States and Canada.
May’s writing has shaped a European vision of the post-Civil War American West—one uniquely Teutonized by his prolific pen. Interestingly enough, May did not visit the United States until late in life, in 1908—long after his most popular western stories were published.
In the WSU Press edition, David Koblick’s excellent translation and abridgment puts the best known novel by Karl May into the hands of an English speaking audience. In addition, an introduction by Koblick and an insightful foreword by Richard H. Cracroft of Brigham Young University provide cultural and historical perspectives on the Karl May phenomenon.
256 pages (1999)