Self-invented mythos of Karl May

Yet another delightful find on my recent trip to Berlin, was a pamphlet I found when I stopped into the Zeughaus Kino to see what movies were showing that night. They happened to be in the middle of a cool exhibit at the Deutsches Historiche Musuem and a retrospective series of films based on the works of Karl May, one of the most popular German authors of adventure fiction during the first half of the 20th century. May’s life was both difficult and colorful, and his constant reinvention of himself as the protagonist of his own stories makes for some interesting reading. May’s most succesful series were those set in the American West, narrated by Winnetou, the Indian chief; and those set in the Ottoman Empire, narrated by Kara Ben Nemsi. Karl May went around masquerading as Kara Ben Nemsi…which makes me think of what would happen if all of today’s trekkies, furries, cosplayers, and LARPs carried their identities over into the workplace! If anyone reading this wants to start a trend, you can blame it on me. Or the two prototypes in the photo below, dressed as Winnetou and Kara Ben Nemsi, circa 1900!

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