raspe edition miinchausen
MUNCHAUSEN, BARON, the modern Philopseudes, "of whom Ferdinand Mendez Pinto was but a type," is commonly identified with Hieronymus Karl Friedrich von Miinchausen, of Bodenswerder in Hanover, who, having entered the Russian service and served in several campaigns against the Turks, amused himself in his retirement by relating extraordinary instances of his prowess as soldier and sportsman. He died in 1797. In 1785 a little book of 48 pages, Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia, was published in London. A second edition was printed at Oxford next year ; an enlarged London edition speedily followed, and the book had gone through five editions before, in 1787, it was introduced to the German public in a translation, with a preface by the poet Burger. Burger very naturally passed in Germany for the writer ; and it was not until 1824 that a communication from his editor Karl von Reinhard to the Gesellschafter fixed the authorship upon Rudolf Erich Raspe. Raspe, a man of versatile talent, the author of some works on natural history and painting and of a poem entitled Hermin and Gunilde, was born at Hanover in 1737, and had been professor of archmology and curator of the museum at Cassel, which appointments he lost upon a charge of stealing medals. He fled to England, where he had already been elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Society, though his name was subsequently expunged. From 1782 to about 1788 he was assay-master and storekeeper at Dolcoath mine in Cornwall, where his ingenuity was still remembered in the middle of the present century. In 1794 he accepted a similar situation at Muckross in Ireland, but died there before entering upon his post. His authorship of Munchausen rests entirely upon the testimony of Von Reinhard, but the fact was in all probability communicated to the latter by Burger ; it has never been disputed, and is confirmed by the appearance of the book in London during Raspe's residence in England. The father of Adolf Ellisen, a recent German editor, visited Baron Miinchausen himself in 1795, two years before his death, and found him very uncommunicative. He was convinced, however, by the evidence of acquaintances that the baron had in his younger days fully entitled himself to the distinction thrust upon him by Herr Raspe.
It would be superfluous to descant on the qualities of a work so universally known,whose name has become a household word. It is to be observed, however, that the typical Munchausen is chiefly to be encountered in the 48 pages originally published by Raspe, and that the subsequent accessions, while quadrupling the dimensions of the book, are far from adding proportionably to its merit. There is hardly such another instance in literature of eleven buckram-men growing out of two. The most important of these additions is entitled "A Journey to the Moon and Dog Star," and is mainly borrowed from Lucian's True History. A very inferior appendix, published in 1793, represents the baron in conflict with the French revolutionists and Tippoo Saib ; and there are several undisguised imitations. The family likeness of the stories published by Raspe himself renders it probable that they were actually derived by him from Miinchausen, of whom he speaks respectfully in his preface, attributing to his inventions the moral purpose of "awakening and shaming the common sense of those who have lost it by prejudice or habit." It is nevertheless likely that Miinchausen shone rather as a narrator than an inventor, some of his marvels having been traced to Bebel's Facetim, to Lange's Mendacia Ridicula, to Castiglione's Cortegiano, and even to a Portuguese magazine.
The best English edition is that by Teignmouth Shore (1872), with illustrations by Gustave Dor4 and additions by Thrlophile Gautier ; the best German edition that by Ellisen (1849), to which is prefixed a valuable essay upon the literature of pseudology in general. The English edition of 1809 has plates by Rowlandson.