Karl May

Nina Berman (Arizona State University)
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Karl May is the most widely read author of German-language popular fiction. The study of his works and their reception provides unique access to ideas central to nineteenth- and twentieth-century German culture and society. He wrote fictional travel narratives, short stories, novels, satires, poetry, plays, essays, and autobiographical texts. His best-known novels are the


tetralogy (I-III 1893; IV 1909/1910) and the six-volume



Orient Cycle

, 1881-1888].

May’s fictional world reflects key aspects of his early life. He was born on 25 February 1842 into a family of poor weavers in Ernstthal, Saxony, as the fifth of fourteen children. The dismal situation of the weavers at the time was deplored by Heinrich Heine in his moving poem “The Silesian Weavers” (1844) and

2169 words

Citation: Berman, Nina. "Karl May". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 May 2004 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5731, accessed 25 July 2024.]

5731 Karl May 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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