Thursday, December 5, 2013

Off Topic: Munchausen's Literary Adventures

Here's an edition of the Adventures of Baron Munchausen, published in 1923 by the Roman publisher Formiggini as N. 43 in the series "Classici del ridere" (The Classics of Humor). The original author R. E. Raspe is mentioned in the Foreword, but this -- good -- Italian translation is based on  G. A. Bürger's reworked and expanded version. The Baron's name has been 'Germanically improved' into Münchhausen.

The author of the woodcuts illustrating the story is a certain Benito Boccolari, with a harsh, powerful style that was often used in Italy for children's books in the first decades of the 20th century. In the picture here on the left, one of the "Sea Adventures" (click on the icon to enlarge it). An interesting detail: the protagonist has a very different face from that which has often become 'mandatory' after Gustave Doré.

In the flyleaves, the picture common to the whole series is a work by no less than Adolfo de Carolis, the most important engraver of that period, who on some occasions Germanized his name into "de Karolis." The motto reads Risus quoque vitast ( = vita est), "Laughter is life, indeed." Once again, the topic is only partially off topic since Baron Munchausen provides one of the finest examples of fantasy literature in modern times.

This book - along with another that will be reviewed soon - has been the first Christmas present of 2013, by the dear friend and antique book dealer Paolo Magionami.

"The Last Adventure of Baron Munchausen" can be read here: