Karl May (2169 words)

Nina Berman (Arizona State University)
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Karl May is the most widely read author of German-language popular fiction. The study of his works and their reception provides unique access to ideas central to nineteenth- and twentieth-century German culture and society. He wrote fictional travel narratives, short stories, novels, satires, poetry, plays, essays, and autobiographical texts. His best-known novels are the Winnetou tetralogy (I-III 1893; IV 1909/1910) and the six-volume Orientzyklus [Orient Cycle, 1881-1888].

May’s fictional world reflects key aspects of his early life. He was born on 25 February 1842 into a family of poor weavers in Ernstthal, Saxony, as the fifth of fourteen children. The dismal situation of the weavers at the time was d…

Citation: Berman, Nina. "Karl May". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 May 2004 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5731, accessed 16 August 2022.]

5731 Karl May 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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