Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wolfheinrich von der Mülbe

Wolfheinrich von der Mülbe (b. Berlin, 22 October 1879; d. Munich, 30 April 1965)

As a student Mülbe studied law, medicine, and literature, taking a doctorate in the History of Art in 1904 at Breslau (Wrocław, Poland).  He taught in Hanover and Heidelberg, and spent time abroad in France, Italy and Denmark before settling in 1915 in Munich, where he worked as a freelance writer and prolific translator until his death. Authors he translated into German include Sigrid Undset, Herman Melville, and Roald Dahl.  His first book was a volume of poetry, Sonne und Nacht [Sun and Night] (1902), followed by Michelangelo: Ein Kranz von Sonetten [Michelangelo: A Wreath of Sonnets] (1912). He published a mystery novel Harald Vorchs Todesfahrt [Harald Vorch’s Death-trip] in 1926, and another novel, Stanoffs Tochter [Stanoff’s Daughter] in 1935, which was followed by his most significant work, a fantasy novel which has a complicated publishing history.  Written for his bedridden first wife, Käthe, it was first published under the title Das Märchen vom Rasierzueg oder Die Zauberlaterne: Ein Phantastischer Roman [The Fairy-tale of the Shaving-set, or The Magic Lantern: A Fantasy Novel] (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1937).  It was reissued by the same publisher in 1949 under the title Die Zauberlaterne oder Wer das Glück Hat, Führt die Braut Heim [The Magic Lantern, or Who Has the Good Fortune to Carry Home the Bride]. The text was cut by the author (two chapters were eliminated) for the 1964 paperback edition (published by Ullstein in Frankfort), and the book was adapted for German television as Der Rostrote Ritter [The Rusty Knight], first broadcast in 1973.  An audio-version, retitled Ritter Kuniberts Suche nach dem Glück [Knight Kunibert’s Search for Happiness] (2006) has also been released. Recent German editions, under the shorter title Die Zauberlaterne, have republished the full text, and Deborah Webster Rogers’s English translation of the complete text, titled The Vision of the Lantern, is currently seeking a publisher.*
The 2005 Piper edition

Die Zauberlaterne is the tale of Sir Kunibert, who is goaded by his mother to leave their ill-kept old Castle Snagglestone and to set forth on adventures with his squire Schorse and his horse.  He learns of a rich and beautiful princess, and after seeing a vision in a magic lantern (which foreshadows the rest of the story) he must accomplish three tasks to win her hand, the second of which involves searching for a magical shaving-set for her father. The predominate tone of the story is one of whimsical and wry humor, but occasionally Mülbe evokes satire. 

*Prospective publishers may contact me for information on how to reach Deborah Webster Rogers.  

No comments:

Post a Comment