Dr. William E. Thomas MD

Karl May in the German tradition



Grey Owl»I am Grey Owl. I come from across the seas to tell you about my Canadian homeland.« Such were the words Grey Owl used to introduce himself to the public during his lecture tour of England in 1935. Crowds so large attended his public appearances that Police were called in to control them.

Grey Owl was also a successful writer. The ›Men of the Last Frontier‹, ›Pilgrims of the Wild‹, ›The Adventures of Sajo and Her Beaver People‹, the ›Tales of an Empty Cabin‹, became enormously popular. Some of his stories appeared in Canadian School readers.[1] Grey Owl’s story about beavers had been translated into eighteen languages. In 1938 Grey Owl was invited to give a command performance to the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace.

Grey Owl was a pioneer of the modern conservation movement. With his Red Indian wife they lived in what is today the Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, Canada. Their place was a small log cabin with a beaver lodge in the living room. Grey Owl lived the life of an Objibwa tribe Red Indian in the wilderness.[2]

»Call me Grey Owl«, he used to say, »just Grey Owl, please.« About himself he said he was born in Hermosillo, Mexico, in 1888. His mother was Katherine Cochise, of the Jicarilla Apaches. His father was George MacNeil, a Scot who had served as a scout in the Southwestern Indian wars.

Grey Owl lived a simple life in the Canadian wilderness. He dressed in the Indian way, looked and acted like one.[3] Nowadays Grey Owl, in spite of all his human faults, is considered to be the first of conservationists. Grey Owl died in his forest log cabin, which he shared with the beavers, in 1938, just short of his fiftieth birthday. In 1998 British film director Richard Attenborough made a movie about the life of Grey Owl, starring Pierce Brosnan.[4]

Grey Owl 2Only after the death of Grey Owl it became public that he was an Englishman, born Archie Belaney, in Hastings, England. He came to Canada in 1906 when eighteen years old. The young man went native, not by accident, but on purpose. He began to disappear into the myth of his own making. Archie had been adopted into the Objiway tribe and married a Red Indian girl. He started to dye his hair black and redden his skin with henna. The more he wrote, the more Indian he became. In the end Archie Belaney transformed himself into a Red Indian called Grey Owl.

After he died Grey Owl started to be called »an impostor«, »an English eccentric who fooled 1930’s Britain, including King George VI. and THE TIMES [January 1938 issue], into thinking he was a Red Indian brave.« Worse was yet to come: »a fraud, a bigamist, a drunk, a scoundrel and a liar.« Yet Grey Owl was no impostor – no liar. He did not cheat anyone out of money pretending to be Grey Owl. He really lived like a Red Indian.

In spite of the fact that Grey Owl actually lived the life of a Red Indian, as soon as it became known he was born Archibald Belaney, insults started to be thrown at him. Fortunately for Grey Owl he was dead already.

Karl May’s ›Years of Triumph‹

In Karl May’s life the time between 1893 and 1899 were his ›Years of Triumph‹. The only ones. The book editions of his writings enabled Karl May financially to relax from his previous hectic life, from the days and frequent nights spent writing in order to earn money, to keep the publishing deadlines. As soon as he dared to claim to be Old Shatterhand his ›Years of Triumph‹ finished. Since then nothing but references to his ›Hochstapelei‹[5] or worse seem to be the perennial theme in the literature.

It was Karl May’s stepping out from the white patriarchal society of Germany in his time, which brought the wrath, insults, ostracism and anger from certain representatives of the establishment. Not so with the ordinary readers of Karl May’s books – on the contrary! Karl May’s popularity among them was as immense as ever.

Claus Roxin in his classic study ›Dr.Karl May, called Old Shatterhand‹[6] could not have been more right when he wrote: »It happened. The fiction became reality.«[7] Karl May went along with the sudden publicity, fortune and glory. He bought a place of his own, the Villa Shatterhand. He could have afforded to travel. He was Old Shatterhand: he created him, lived his life in his books. Karl May identified himself with his heroes: »And so became the connection of poetic imagination and artistically expressed reality tighter and tighter.«[8] Had Karl May left Germany at that time, he would have stayed Old Shatterhand.[9]

There are some interesting similarities between Grey Owl and Karl May. The peculiar role of fathers, early childhood influence of grandmothers. The personalities of Archibald Belaney and Karl May should be approached as social phenomena, not as individual pathological cases. Both stepped out from the white patriarchal culture. Archie Belaney transformed himself into Grey Owl. Karl May became Old Shatterhand in spirit.

Grey Owl and Old Shatterhand achieved anthropological kinship ties with other people, i.e. acceptance into a tribe that was not based on blood relation. Today’s perception is different from the past. On the bases of anthropological knowledge one can claim kinship or ancestry with other different people. Grey Owl was accepted into the Objibwa tribe. Old Shatterhand became a Mescalero Apache. In this understanding Archibald Belaney and Karl May were well ahead in their social thinking than their contemporary society.

The Storm

»The catastrophe hit him suddenly and with a blow.« (Wollschläger)[10]

»Today I return home to start the old path again.« (Radebeul May 1903. Karl May.)[11]

It seems Karl May realized the situation. He understood that the popular traveler’s stories brought the attacks on him. May responded in two ways. Firstly he published the ›Erzgebirgische Dorfgeschichten‹[12] in 1903, a book with pure local German flavor. The content of it befits a German writer. We never hear or read a negative critique of this book. Had Karl May been writing all his stories in this style he would never have been called a ›Hochstapler‹ and worse. The reason is that he would not have stepped out from the white German patriarchal society of his time.

Next Karl May changed the style of his writing into ›symbolism‹. He literally »buried the old Karl at sea.«[13] It was too late; the attacks against his person were becoming more and more vicious. Almost all the charges were based on character assassination attempts. This tradition lasts in Germany until present days.

Karl May was called a ›born criminal‹, a ›homosexual‹ which was either a joke or a deliberate attempt to malign one of the most popular German writers. He is still presented in contemporary articles as a ›liar‹. Suggestions about Karl May’s mental imbalance have been made.

Born criminal‹: In 1908 Karl May was named a »born criminal« by Jurist Erich Wulffen in his book ›Psychology of a Criminal‹.[14][15] Even if Wulffen’s views are no longer tenable or acceptable, Karl May is still called a criminal in contemporary writings about him. Nowadays Karl May would not have been jailed because of his Dissociative Identity Disorder he was suffering from in the years 1862–1872.

Homosexual‹:[16] There is no accusation of Karl May being a homosexual from before the publication of Arno Schmidt’s book ›Sitara and the Way there‹ in 1963.[17] Schmidt published his book during the Cold War in the 1960’s. The book continued in the tradition of vilifying a public idol in an attempt to make Karl May’s books unacceptable to the parents of potential readers. Because Karl May was such a successful writer, popular especially with the young people, this was a bid to bring him into disrepute by certain factions in the German society.

Hitler’s tutor‹: Karl May became as a matter of fact Hitler’s victim. It is not true that Adolf Hitler read the complete works of Karl May, as it is still repeated in the literature. Hitler was given, when German Chancellor, as a present the whole collection of Karl May’s books. In his youth Hitler read the Indian stories and some of the Orient adventures. Hitler most decidedly did not read ›Et in Terra Pax‹. In his superficiality Hitler skimmed the adventure parts but deeper ideas of humanity did not touch him at all. Claus Roxin expressed it in these words: »… where he [i.e., Karl May] finished, in the literary heights, … his readers could not follow him any more.«[18] Hitler was one of them who could not follow Karl May’s noble ideas. This did not stop Hitler from quoting May at inappropriate moments.

A German refugee from Hitler, Klaus Mann, published in 1940 an article entitled ›Cowboy Mentor of the Fuehrer‹. Mann’s emotionally coloured view still appears in the literature in 1993[19] in the following sentence: »Old Shatterhand continually quoted the Bible claiming that he was invested with a divine right to exterminate inferior races, and we know that Hitler frequently expressed this view in later years.«

In 1999 the Pennsylvania State University, USA awarded Ben Novak the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, for his study ›The Third Logic: The Abduction of Adolf Hitler‹. In his doctoral theses Ben Novak postulates that Hitler’s mind worked along the lines of abductive logic which he learned from Karl May.

›Hochstapler‹: Karl May is still called a cheat, a thief, and a swindler. In German a ›Hochstapler‹ means a person who deceives people and lives above his means at the expense of others. The charges of criminality and deceitfulness refer to May’s action from before 1870.

Love affair with a married woman‹: Mentioned in a recent study.[20] This ›Lupus in Fabula‹[21] statement »The phase of criminality and hoboism of Karl May as an expression of personality disorder«[22] is a harsh judgment on a nineteen years old Karl May. There was no such thing as a long drawn consummated love affair with a married woman. There is in existence the original report written by direct May’s superior, one Eduard Pfuetzner, the local school inspector, from the 7 November 1861, on the whole affair.[23] It turned out that Karl May’s landlord was an alcoholic. After fourteen days May had had enough and left. The whole affair was trivial. To come to a conclusion[24] – because Karl May did not mention this event in his biography – that May had difficulties in cognitive function not only in his old age, but also already in his youth, suggesting that Karl May was morally insane, is malevolent and unsubstantiated.[25]

Narcissistic Personality‹: Hans Wollschläger gave us an exercise in Freudian psychoanalysis, quite erudite in its time (1972), however hardly acceptable today.[26]

Pathological Liar‹: »… he [Karl May] lied as a rule all the time in new varieties«[27] Many creative writers use to express themselves in the first person narrative (the German »Ich« form). Conan Doyle’s stories were composed in the first person. All of the Conan Doyle stories are presented as though they were true. The stories were so intensely imagined that people believed Sherlock Holmes really existed. That legend even persists to this day. Yet there is hardly a person who would call Sir Conan Doyle a liar.

No credence is given to the fact that Karl May was an artist, a creative writer, with a rich inner life. During the course of his life he went through spiritual growth, from writing popular novels to establish himself and to make a living, to producing philosophical and symbolic books. Like so many creative artists Karl May had the ability to dissociate himself from his surroundings and live in his own world. This on occasions led to a curious combination of dissociation and publicity stunts.

The Crimes of Winnetou and Co.‹: Perhaps with a tongue in cheek written book by Florian Kann[28], but still along the lines of negative view on Karl May. It was certainly not Karl May’s intention to portrait Winnetou as a perpetrator of criminal acts. However – one hundred years of repeating »Karl May’s own criminal record»[29] left its legacy in the German tradition.

Apart from the years 1862–1874 (with the exception of the ›Hauptmann from Koepenick’ episode from 1879, the so-called Stollberg’s affair[30]) Karl May never came into conflict with the law. This is a period of 12 years – through major part of which he suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder – against 39 years of law-abiding life!

Popular writers become »Literati.« William Shakespeare, Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Jane Austin – all wrote for the public. Nowadays there are Literary Societies based on their works. The idea that a writer is still being judged by his personal life is very retrogressive. We should not look only at the life of the artist, but more at his/her work achievement. Yet from the 1900 until the year 2000, i.e. for one hundred years, we are reading in the German literature about Karl May that he was a born criminal, confidence trickster, jail-bird, pretentious snob, pathological liar, Hitler’s tutor, a homosexual, psychopath, a bizarre personality, mentally ill. Not a good example to follow! One wonders why Karl May’s books are still so popular and widely published.

Was Karl May mentally ill?

Freud considered creativity as neurosis. There were several studies written in the past describing Karl May as a narcissistic personality in the true Freudian fashion. Even the romantic view on creativity by English writer Robert Burton in his 1621 book »The Anatomy of Melancholy«, where he stated »All poets are mad» was somewhat less pernicious and insulting.

In the view of some present day authors the swiftness of thought and heightened energy should be a form of mental imbalance. In fiction, poetry and autobiography many writers have drawn on their own experience with mental illness, as John Hopkins University psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison did in her book ›Manic-Depressive Illness and Creativity‹. Jamison is herself manic-depressive and describes her long struggle with the disorder. Similar books became popular in the 1980, as Elizabeth Wurzell’s account of her depression ›Prozac Nation‹, Joanne Greenberg’s ›I Never promised you a Rose Garden‹, Jennifer Dawson’s ›The Ha-Ha‹, Janet Frame’s ›An Angel at my Table‹, or Kate Millet’s ›The Loony Bin Trip‹, to name a few. Such literature can hardly be called a scientific research.

Kay Jamison in her two books ›Touched With Fire‹ and ›Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament‹ compiled a long list of writers, composers and musicians, poets and artists, who in her view suffered from Bipolar Disorder. Jamison’s opinion is certainly biased by her own condition. Almost everyone on her list was »touched with fire«, i.e. suffered from depression, was suicidal, or became manic.

However even Jamison had to accept that: »it would be wrong to label anyone who is unusually accomplished, energetic, intense, moody or eccentric as manic-depressive.«

Is there actually a link between artistic creativity and mental illness? Most artists are not mentally ill, and most mentally ill people are not artists. Serious research has been undertaken and the results are very controversial. Arnold M. Ludwig in his book ›The Price of Greatness‹[31] attempted to avoid the flaws of previous studies. Ludwig believes that people in many professions, including sports, politics and business, are extremely creative. It is only because people in artistic professions have been studied more and also because artists are able to express their feeling publicly or in their creations, that attention has been drawn to them.

Some of the latest research papers, as »Creativity and mental illness: prevalence rates in writers and their first-degree relatives«[32] described higher rate of mental illness, predominantly affective disorder, with a tendency toward the bipolar subtype. Only 30 creative writers were examined, which makes this study not representative at all.

As there has been suggestion made Karl May suffered from Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) let us look at some of the aspects relevant to this issue. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness involving episodes of serious mania and depression. For those afflicted with the illness, it is extremely distressing and disruptive. It may be helpful to think of the various mood states in manic-depressive illness as a spectrum or continuous range. At one end is severe depression, which shades into moderate depression, then come mild and brief mood disturbances that many people call »the blues«, then normal mood, then hypomania (a mild form of mania), and then mania.

Depressive and manic depressive illness are the two major types of depressive illness, also known as affective disorders or mood disorders, because they primarily affect a person’s mood. Different terms are unipolar and bipolar disorder. There are various forms of bipolar disorder, as dysthymia, a type of chronic moderate depression, cyclothymia or manic depression in which the cycles – mood swings – are not quite as severe, and hypomania, a more moderate syndrome than the full-blown mania.

If left untreated, bipolar disorder tends to worsen and the person experiences episodes of full-fledged mania and clinical depression. The illness is characterized by mood swings from deep depression to mania. There is a relatively poor long-term prognosis for many with the disease. In depression the mind slows down to the point of being virtually useless. In a manic state the ideas come too fast and there are too many of them. Overwhelming confusion replaces clarity of thinking. The person becomes angry, irritable, his/her humor ceases to amuse. He or she starts to frighten other people, and becomes uncontrollable. Harmful consequences of the disease are destruction of personal relationships, inability to perform his/her usual occupation, loss of employment, impulsive or reckless behavior, alcohol or drug abuse, and the possibility of a suicide. Karl May’s presumed bipolar disorder would have been untreated, as in his days there was no effective medication (Lithium carbonate) available.

Manic-depressive illness is recurrent. Constructing a life chart of mood symptoms and life events is necessary for a diagnosis of this disorder. Such a chart shows debilitating swings in mood from manic episodes, marked by abnormal euphoria and irritability, to periods of depression. Prolonged sadness, irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety, pessimism, indifference, loss of energy and persistent lethargy, inability to concentrate in depression – racing thoughts and speech, flight of ideas, poor judgment, easy distractibility, confusion in mania, make any serious creative activity almost impossible in the long run. On the evidence we have, i.e. the constant steady output from Karl May’s pen over the years of rational stories, there is no evidence of manic-depressive symptomatology.

There has been a suggestion that certain precise events in Karl May’s life were symptoms of his abnormal behavior. During Karl May’s ›Years of Triumph‹ (1893–1900) he indeed went along with the sudden publicity brought about by the appearance of his stories in book editions. Karl May identified himself with his hero Old Shatterhand. Perhaps naively (as the destruction of the negatives later on speaks for) he had 101 pictures taken of himself in the costumes of Old Shatterhand and Kara ben Nemsi for publicity reason. An animated discussion with Baron Vittinghoff-Schell in February 1898 [33] can hardly be a proof of mental instability of Karl May. Karl May’s habit of suddenly walking out on his wife[34] or details on Emma and Karl May’s visiting the Fehsenfeld (publisher of his books) by Pauline Fehsenfeld, are significant more for May’s matrimonial disharmony then mental illness. There also belongs May’s utterance in his letter to Fehsenfeld from 1893: »my nervousness … because of domestic discord … that I often look above my writing desk where the loaded revolver hangs« – is more an expression of frustration and concealed cry for help than sign of pathological depression.

A misinterpretation of a clear-cut pathological syndrome for a psychiatric condition appeared in a study on Karl May.[35] May’s precise description of his bodily pain in 1910, caused by bronchial cancer with metastasis to the cervical spine, in a heavy smoker for decades as Karl May used to be[36], is attributed to bipolar disorder: »Moreover brutal bodily pain prevents me from writing …that pain, without end, terrible nerve pain, which drags the whole night and during the day knocks out the pen from my hand a hundred time!«[37]

Karl May’s behavior and utterances from May till July 1897, when he traveled in Germany and Austria, held public lectures and informal evening sessions with his admirers, could only be compared with present day pop-star performance. May fell under the spell of his fame and acted accordingly in front of his listeners. There seems to be no doubt about the fact that Karl May, allowing himself to be carried on the crest of his popularity and identifying with his hero, overstepped the line of credibility.

Karl May had the ability to work simultaneously on two or more subjects. This was a longstanding working habit, established already during the Münchmeyer [Kolportage] period.[38] Many writers can concentrate more at night. This is simply a habit, not a sign of mania. Hitler and Stalin went to bed towards the early hours of the morning as a rule. Curiously, there is hardly any mention in the literature what time Karl May did get out of bed.

The story of Karl May doing his field research in 1898 in Gartow, is a charming one.[39] May was still riding on the crest of his success. His generosity in rewarding people for their services was documented before and after Gartow. It certainly was not a sign of mania but that of Karl May’s philanthropy. With an eye on publicity, to show his readers that he really travels, Karl May was sending the many postcards to Germany from overseas. He was his own publicity manager. One hundred years ago this was not considered a madman’s act.

There are two myths from Karl May’s life that do not stand up to closer look and latest research. These are the two reports of May’s abnormal behavior, one in Padang, the second one in Istanbul. A diagnosis of »psychotic episodes« was made and afterwards became part of research tradition on Karl May.

Klara May reported two episodes of abnormal May’s behavior, one in Padang, the second in Istanbul.[40] The original version comes from Hassan, the Arab servant who accompanied Karl May to Padang. Apart from verbal difficulties in communication between Klara and Hassan, Hassan was inclined to overstate his role and the condition of his master, and Klara was only too willing to accept uncritically what he said.

If we look at the travel diary of Karl May,[41] we find a gap between the 12 November 1899 (last entry) and the 23 November 1899 (next entry). However the ticket for return sea voyage from Padang to Port Said carries the date 22 November 1899, as the date of issue. Karl May had to organize his departure before this date. He also mentioned excursions to the surrounding countryside he undertook at the time. The diary entries by Karl May before 12 November and after the 23 November 1899 are quite logical, with no signs of any mental disturbance.

The only reference to being unwell Karl May mentioned in the diary on the 18 December 1899: »I was very ill, almost a skeleton.«[42] This is suggestive more of the condition Waller suffered from in the ›Et in Terra Pax‹ – i.e. dysentery.[43]

In Istanbul the travelling party, consisting of Klara and Richard Plohn, Emma and Karl May, started to be tired and badly affected by the heat. Richard Plohn became seriously ill. Any misunderstanding or outburst was to be expected under such circumstances. Klara May certainly possessed a flair for colorful description of events and it seems she used it this time.

In the book ›In Fernen Zonen‹ the author states under 5 July 1900: »Istanbul. In what time slot the by Klara reported May’s psychotic breakdown ›In Constantinopol‹ is to be placed, has unfortunately to stay open.«[44] There simply were no days left in the diary for the eight days in which Karl May should have behaved like a lunatic. There are daily entries by Karl May – except for one day, the 5 July 1900 – written in clear language with no signs of any mental disturbance whatsoever.

And yet this unsubstantiated story, which originated with Hassan and Klara May, is included in a recent study[45] as a proof of Karl May’s psychotic condition. This is suggested to be part of his bipolar disorder, in spite of the fact that the concept of ›psychosis‹ is not diagnostic.

Karl May would not have been able to write consistently year after year so many books in a logical fashion had he suffered from manic-depressive illness. The anguish and disarray of true psychosis makes disciplined creative expression impossible. As with any person in the public eye, events from Karl May’s personal life were misinterpreted, magnified, distorted, and more than often the wrong explanation offered.

When the Freudian psychoanalysis was in vogue, Karl May was described as a narcissistic personality. At present it is the suggestion of mental illness. Karl May’s writings are the best criterion for judging his state of mind. No madman would create what Karl May did in his books. Karl May simply was – Karl May.

Please click on the hyperlinked reference numbers to return to your place in the text.

[1] ›The Collected Works of Grey Owl‹, Chapters Publishing Ontario Canada 1999.

[2] Kenneth Brower: ›Grey Owl‹, in: The Atlantic (monthly), Vol.265, No.1, January 1990, pp.74-84.

[3] Virtual Saskatchewan – Grey Owl: http://www.virtualsk.com/current_issue/grey_owl.html

[4] Grey Owl – Kurzinhalt: http://www.greyowl.de/home.html

[5] Hochstapler = swindler

[6] Claus Roxin: ›Dr. Karl May, genannt Old Shatterhand‹, JbKMG 1974, pp.15-74.

[7] »Es war gelungen – Die Fiktion war Wirklichkeit geworden …«. In (6) p.16.

[8] »So wurde die Verklammerung von dichterischen Imagination und künstlich geschaffener Realität enger und enger.« In (6) p.20.

[9] Claus Roxin came to similar conclusion: »[KM] vielleicht gar im Ausland – gelebt hatte, waren seine ›Antezedentien‹ weit weniger ins Gerede gekommen.« In (6) p.33. – [»Had {KM} lived abroad, there would have been less talk about his previous deeds.«]

[10] »Die Katastrophe traf ihn jäh und mit einem Schlag.« – Hans Wollschläger: »Die sogenannte Spaltung des menschlichen Innern, ein Bild der Menschheitsspaltung überhaupt«, JbKMG 1972, pp.11-92. – The quote is on p.54.

[11] Karl May: ›Erzgebirgische Dorfgeschichten‹, Olms Presse Hildesheim-New York 1977, see ›Vorwort‹ by Karl May. »Heut kehr ich nun ins Vaterland zurück, um jenen alten Weg aufs Neue zu betreten.«

[12] »Village Stories from the Ore Mountains.« – Erzgebirgen are a mountain chain in Germany.

[13] »… den früheren Karl: Der ist mit großer Ceremonie von mir in das rothe Meer versenkt worden, mit Schiffsteinkohlen, die ihn auf den Grund gezogen haben.« In (6) p.64. – [In a letter by Karl May from the 15 September 1899 during his Orient voyage: »The previous Karl: He was sunk by myself with great ceremony into the Red Sea, with the ships’ coal, which dragged him to the bottom.«]

[14] Erich Wulffen: ›Psychologie des Verbrechers‹, Berlin-Lichterfelde 1908.

[15] It was Lebius in his letter to the opera singer Selma von Scheidt who named Karl May a »born criminal«.

[16] The artist Rudolph Karl Alexander (Sascha) Schneider (1870–1927) belonged among Karl May’s friends during the difficult years after 1905. Sascha Schneider’s sexual orientation was gay. Lay amateurish pseudo-psychoanalysts speculated on May’s sexual orientation because of that. To damage Karl May’s reputation, such people – with no facts to support such allegation – mentioned May’s stay in prison, divorce, the popularity of May’s books amongst the youngsters, even May’s financial support of his sister’s children, as signs of May’s homosexuality. This was of course pure fabrication. In this way they insinuated May’s homosexuality and paedophilia. Arno Schmidt in his book maliciously confabulated further.

[17] Arno Schmidt: ›Sitara und der Weg dorthin‹, Fischer Verlage (second edition) 1998.

[18] Prof. Dr. Claus Roxin – im Gesprach mit Dr.Dieter Lehner 22.7.1999 – Forum Interview.

[19] F.C. McKenzie: ›Inside Adolf‹, Beaver Publishing House, Victoria (Australia) 1993, p.18.

[20] Johannes Zeilinger: ›Autor in Fabula‹, Dissertation University Leipzig, 1999.

[21] Karl May: ›Professor Vitzliputzli‹, Karl May Verlag Bamberg 1955, Band 47, p.378.

[22] In [18] 2.5.2.: »Kriminalitats – und Vagantenphase Mays als Ausdruck der Personlichkeitsstorung.«

[23] Mitteilungen der Karl-May-Gesellschaft, No.119, March 1999, p.43.

[24] In [18] 2.5.2.: »… seine [May’s] Abweichung von der normalen Kognition sich wie ein roter Faden durchs Leben zog, stabil bis ins Alter blied … nicht nur in der Jugendzeit, auch im Alter hatte diese Stoerung …« […his [May’s] deviation from normal cognition trails through his life like a red thread, remains stable into old age … not only during his youth, but also in the old age this disorder …« etc.]

[25] Moral insanity – an absence of normal cognitive function – is a type of personality disorder, when the person, while appearing to be normal in every other way, shows a pattern of behavior which suggests the absence of conscience- that is, lying, stealing, assaulting, even killing – without any remorse whatsoever. We have only to think of Charles Dickens character like Fagin, or a Shakespearean one like Iago. – In the 1920’s a German psychiatrist, Kurt Schneider, suggested classification which survived more or less intact and forms the core of the section on personality disorders in the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization. The 1992 version (ICD-10) subdivides the disorder into eight types. The classification of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) more usefully groups them into three ›clusters‹. Karl May does not fit into any of those categories.

[26] Hans Wollschläger: »Die sogenannte Spaltung des menschlichen Innern, ein Bild der Menschheitsspaltung überhaupt«, JbKMG 1972.

[27] In [18] 2.5.2.: »… er leugnete regelmaessig in immer neuen Varianten.«

[28] Florian Kann: ›Der Fall Karl May‹, Eichborn Verlag 1999.

[29] ›Karl Mays eigene kriminelle Bilanz‹ in SVZ.on line: Deutschland/Welt »Verbrechen von Winnetou and Co.« http://www.svz.de/newsdw/DWVermischtes/26.03.99/anwalt/anwalt.htm

[30] Three weeks detention (1 – 22 September 1879) for impersonating an official. Karl May wanted to find out the circumstances of death of his future wife’s, Emma Pollmer, grandfather.

[31] Arnold M. Ludwig; ›The Price of Greatness‹, The Guilford Press 1995.

[32] NC Andersen: ›Creativity and mental illness: prevalence rates in writers and their first-degree relatives‹, Am J Psychiatry 1987; 144:1288-1292.

[33] In [18] 2.6.3.

[34] »[ich] tat, was ich schon jahrelang in solchen Faellen zu tun gewohnt war, ich war still, nahm den Hut und ging.« In: Karl May: ›Mein Leben und Streben‹, Olms Presse Hildesheim-New York 1997, p.247. [»I did, what I have been used to do for years in such cases, I stayed cool, took a hat and left.«]

[35] In [18] 2.6.4.

[36] »Also May is a heavy smoker, as a chain smoker he uses only one match in a day.« [Auch ist May ein starker Raucher, als Kettenraucher verbraucht er nur ein Zündholz am Tag.] In: Volker Griese: ›Karl May – Stationes eines Lebens Eine Chronologie seiner Reisen‹, Sonderheft der Karl-May-Gesellschaft Nr.104/1995; under the date 9 April 1897.

[37] In [32] pp.299-230.

[38] »…seine [May’s] erstaunliche Fähigkeit, parallel bemerkenswerte Texte zu schreiben» In: Ralf Harder: ›Karl May und seine Münchmeyer Romane‹, KMG-Presse, Ubstadt 1996, p.236. – [His amazing ability to write concurrently remarkable texts]

[39] Erich Heinemann: ›Dr.Karl May in Gartow‹, JbKMG 1971, pp.259-268.

[40] ›In Fernen Zonen‹, Karl-May-Verlag, Bamberg Radebeul 1999, p.42.

[41] In [38] pp.130-131.

[42] In [38] p.133: »I was very ill, almost a skeleton, as the result of exertion and privations of the journey.«

[43] Karl May: ›Und Friede auf Erden‹, Karl-May-Verlag Bamberg 1958, p.358: »Waller looked indeed like a corpse. His face was shockingly emaciated. I saw a skeleton of a head in front of me, and the hands consisted also only of bones…» – P.539: »It was dysentery, with frightful loss of body strength.«

[44] In [38] p.214.

[45] In [18] 2.6.4.



Karl May aus medizinischer Sicht

Karl May – Forschung und Werk