The Project Gutenberg eBook, Peter Schlemihl, by Adelbert von Chamisso, Translated by John Bowring, Illustrated by George Cruikshank This eBook is for the. Peter Schlemihl’s Remarkable Story: Adelbert von Chamisso: Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte (; Peter Schlemihl’s Remarkable Story). The “hero”, Peter Schlemihl, tells his story from way back to the author, Adelbert von Chamisso, in form of a notebook, and urges him to not share it with anyone.

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Later in the story Schlemihl acquires a pair of seven-league boots which enable him to travel quickly wherever he wants to go. In what they enable to happen the gold-producing purse and the seven-league boots correspond to the inexhaustible purse and wishing hat of the late medieval German story of Fortunatuswhich, though employing various magical devices, is thought of as an ancestor of the modern novel for its realistic accounts of people, events and places.

Fortunatus unfolds a profoundly moral and thought-provoking view of the world, illustrating the petfr that the possession of great wealth is apt to bring and showing how human desires untempered by reason lead to self-destruction. It proved popular both in Germany and abroad. In Germany it circulated as a Volksbuch right up to the nineteenth century.

In Britain there were translations, a verse play by Thomas Dekker, several chapbooks and adaptations for children from the mid eighteenth century onwards. Peter Schlemihllike Fortunatushas aspects that could appeal to children, but it primarily embodies unsettling questions about alienation and identity that belong indubitably to the province of adulthood. Schlemihl, the protagonist of the story, tells in the first person how he went with a letter of introduction to meet a gentleman called Thomas John, from whom he expected to get help.

No one apart from Schlemihl appears in the least amazed at what happens, yet no one knows who the man is. Schlemihl decides to leave the company, but encounters the mysterious stranger schemihl he departs and is persuaded to part with his beautiful shadow in exchange for a magic purse.

Almost immediately Schlemihl discovers that people notice the loss of his shadow, point it out and mock him for it. He attempts to deflect mockery through avoiding light when outdoors, but every time his lack of a shadow is noted he is ostracized. On the first occasion, a year and a day after their first meeting, Schlemihl refuses to sign away his soul to the man when it departs naturally from his body.

The latter part of the story sees him travelling all over the world with the aid of the schlejihl boots and petrr himself to scientific work in botany, collecting lichens and algae.

He falls ill, faints and on recovering finds himself a patient in an institution called the Schlemihlium, founded in his name, where he is looked after, unrecognized, by Bendel and the widowed Mina.

Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte by Adelbert von Chamisso

On departing from the hospital he leaves a note, telling them that their old friend is now doing better than previously and that, if he is doing penance, it is the penance of reconciliation. Schlemihl finds his dog again and returns home, prter communicating his strange history to Chamisso.

The fictive Peter Schlemihl addresses his story in a manuscript to his friend Chamisso, whom he addresses five times as Chamisso and twice as Adelbert in the course of chamusso narrative. We may imagine that sclemihl to be the first part of Faustpublished inwith its Mephistopheles stalking anonymously through the pages of Peter Schlemihl. But the man in the grey coat is more urbane than the figure of the wandering scholar in whose guise Mephistopheles first appears in Faustthough his grey coat may recall the diabolical grey monk who first fills that role in the sixteenth-century Historia von D.

Chamisso thus cleverly splices the fairytale world with popular literature of the day. The conclusion of the book returns to the subject of scientific enquiry regarding the natural world, and here Schlemihl adverts to another contemporary Romantic author, Ludwig Tieck, drawing cha,isso into this ambiguous world of fact and fiction with an allusion to the satirically titled De rebus gestis Pollicillischlekihl. Its continuing appeal derives from the fact that Chamisso, like Kafka, leaves many things open and unexplained while at the same time creating a coherent narrative.

But Schlemihl leaves before any explanation is made and in the process encounters again the man in the grey coat, with results that dictate the remainder of his life. By the end of the first chapter he has exchanged his initial poverty for boundless wealth, but also loses his senses.


In his new life he acquires a new identity as Count Peter through the mystification of the King of Prussia using that name as an incognito, and this identity obtains for the central sections of the narrative. Later, after he has seen the fate of Thomas John at the hands of the man schlemil the grey coat — Justo judicio Dei judicatus sum; justo judicio Dei condemnatus sum I have been judged and condemned by the just judgement of God — and after he has hurled the purse of fortune into the abyss, he experiences a period of wandering that resembles that of the Wandering Jew.

This image of the Jew is chamisdo explicit as he is reduced to schlemihp existence as a mere number, Number Twelve, in the so-called Schlemihlium where he recovers from the extremes of his physical exertions. Number Twelve presumably suggests the last of the twelve tribes of Israel. At the end of the book Schlemihl returns schlemijl his old life of scientific research, aided by the seven-league boots which do not wear out, and he concludes by admonishing Chamisso, the recipient of his story, to respect first the shadow and only afterwards money.

But we can perhaps also note similarities with Munchausen in the travels to Russia and other exotic places, and with The Swiss Family Robinson in the geographical and botanical explorations. Despite these features that would surely appeal to children, most of the English translations seem to vhamisso adults as their target readers.

Up to there were a dozen editions of Peter Schlemihl in English, two of which xchlemihl part of composite volumes containing items of interest to children. The Story Without an Enda religiose tale for children that enjoyed considerable popularity from much schlejihl in the century, figures elsewhere in this book.

Both are Romantic tales written within around a dozen years of each other and sit together well in terms of their focus on fantasies of wealth and its dangers. Both English editions were first illustrated by George Cruikshank, and both printed an anonymous translation that has been reissued many times up to the present day.

The Cruikshank illustrations to Schlemihl were reprinted at least twice in the nineteenth century, but have only been used once, enlarged, in the twentieth in a limited edition Henley on Thames: Undoubtedly, these illustrations helped to give Schlemihl a good send-off in his English guise.

It appeared in London: Clearly, prose works of the German Romantics were making quite an impact in Britain. The translation of Peter Schlemihl appeared anonymously, but it stemmed from the pen of Sir John Bowringas the attribution in later editions makes plain.

Peter Schlemihl

Bowring was a considerable linguist, writer and traveller and made translations of Goethe, Schiller and Heine. As well as being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, he received numerous foreign honours.

This was Friedrich von Adelungthe nephew of the famous grammarian and lexicographer J. His understanding of German is not perfect, so some generally minor mistakes enter the text, but otherwise he follows the original closely. He makes Thomas John, the man to whom Schlemihl had a letter of introduction, into the more familiar Thomas Jones.

One misprint seems to have gone through all subsequent reprints of Bowring. At the opening of chapter 3 in the original Schlemihl describes himself alone in his room, starving despite his gold, as lying like Faffner with his hoard. Presumably the name was garbled in English because it was not recognized and its associations were not understood.

Robert Hardwicke and London: It was used a generation later, with new illustrations by Gordon Browne, in an edition clearly designed for children London: This Edwardian book has a new title — The Shadowless Man, Peter Schlehmihl — though it is new only for this translation, as naming the book The Shadowless Man goes back to a different translation of The full-colour frontispiece, sixteen full-page black and white drawings, twelve smaller drawings and numerous headpieces are vigorous and varied, but Browne is more interested in the social satire and comic sides of the story than in capturing its more menacing and unsettling aspects.

One was anonymous, the other was by William Howitt. It is one of the major books in English about contemporary Germany, since Howitt had an enquiring mind and wrote appreciatively, though not uncritically, about what he saw. His translation of Schlemihlhowever, has a tendency to literalism, perhaps because it was intended as an aid to understanding the German rather than standing as a work on its own.


James Burns and was reissued in When Burns ceased publishing this kind of secular material inhaving converted to Rome, 1 his stock was taken over by Edward Lumley, from whom there is a typically undated edition c. A Routledge edition with exactly the same title and same number of pages London and New York: He or she was apt to omit occasional sentences, presumably through inability to understand, and there are certainly instances of misunderstanding or simplification that point to an imperfect command of German.

These are relatively minor faults, compensated for by helpful explanations elsewhere.

The book is adorned with seven small engravings by an unknown artist. An eight-page introduction by A.

Peter Schlemihl by Adelbert von Chamisso – Free Ebook

Rappoport sketches in information about Chamisso and the background to the story. However, the main interest of the edition lies in its eleven full-colour plates and six two-colour plates by Forster Robson, for whom the events of the story provide opportunity for a great variety of scenes chamisos picturesque old town, open heath, dark forest, bleak mountain, frozen sea, tropical island, nocturnal scjlemihl, a closed room and a romantic dream.

This is the full gift book treatment, more chocolate box than individual vision.

It is a pity that Rackham never illustrated the story. The second is notable for containing illustrations by Sir Philip Burne-Jones and an introduction by the folklore scholar Joseph Jacobs London: They are witness to a fascination with the story over every decade from toif we can take the Lumley edition as having been available in the s.

They were all aimed at the intelligent middle-class reader. This is the kind of book that the Halifax firm of Milner and Sowerby and the Wakefield firm of William Nicholson and Sons published during this period and later in the nineteenth century, but this particular volume was printed by Joseph Smith of High Holburn. The preface declares roundly: A little further on it asserts: Indeed, there is no mention of Chamisso as author, still less any indication of adapter.

There are several alterations in names. The story is scylemihl without divisions into chapters and follows the peteg of the original up to the middle of chapter 9, when it presents an alternative ending.

At the point in the original where Schlemihl thinks that he might find work in a mine he does so, but then experiences such taunts from the other miners that he contemplates suicide. Despairing, he falls asleep and has a dream in which he petre more meets his tormentor, the man cshlemihl the grey coat, refuses to sign his bond and wakes up to find his shadow has been restored. Surprisingly, Bandel greets him outside the mine as the men arrive for their labours.

Schlemihl can now happily marry her himself and continue with Bandel as his faithful servant. This is, of course, a travesty of the original. It eliminates the episode of the Schlemihlium and removes Schlemihl from the mysterious isolation in which he exists at the end of the story. The happy ending of romance and fairytale has supplanted the solitary life of the scholar and scientist. Though some aspects of the story — its literary and contemporary allusions, for example — may have escaped the attention of youthful readers, the narrative plot is readily accessible.

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