Thursday, 9 January 2014

May, Karl "Through the Desert"

May, Karl "Durch die Wüste" (aka Durch Wüste und Harem) [Through the Desert] - 1892 

Karl May is a famous German author who wrote books about half the world without ever having travelled there himself. I have seen several of his stories as a play and on televeions but had never read any of his books even though my husband has most of them since his childhood. A couple of friends convinced me that I really should give them a try. And I did.

This is the first of his many books, the Arabian ones. He is also famous for his Native American exploits where we meet the famous Chief of the Mescalero tribe of the Apache, Winnetou.

In the Arab countries, the author calls himself Kara Ben Nemsi (Karl, son of the Germans) in this book. He travels with his friend and assistant Hadschi Halef Omar Ben Hadschi Abul Abbas Ibn Hadschi Dawuhd al Gossarah through half of Afrika and Arabia and meets several explorers or other adventurers as well as many local tribes and their leaders. It is a typical adventure story but we learn a lot about the people from the time, the Islam religion and the languages used in that part of the world. Contrary to his North American stories, he has visited the Middle East and seems to draw a lot from his experiences there.

A real adventure story, very worth reading.

From the back cover: "Karl Friedrich May was one of the best selling German writers of all time, noted mainly for books set in the American Old West, (best known for the characters of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand) and similar books set in the Orient and Middle East. In addition, he wrote stories set in his native Germany, in China and in South America. May also wrote poetry and several plays, as well as composing music; he was proficient with several musical instruments. May's musical version of 'Ave Maria' became very well known."

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