The bear hunter's son

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First page of the first edition from 1887, bottom right: Davy and Jemmy

The Bear Hunter's Son is the first story by the German writer Karl May specially written for a young readership . It forms the first part of the youth novel Unter Vultures .


The two western men Jemmy and Davy manage to free a young mandan named Wokadeh from horse thieves. He is on the way to Martin Baumann to inform him that his father, the "bear hunter", was captured by the Sioux Ogellallah. He is said to be tortured to death at the grave of a chief in Yellowstone National Park . Martin Baumann decides to save him. Davy and Jemmy join him without hesitation; as did Hobble Frank, who lives in the household, and Bob the black servant.

On the way they are joined by Old Shatterhand and Winnetou , who free some members of the group from the hands of the Shoshone . After one has reconciled with the Indians, they accompany the troop. Shortly afterwards, reinforcements are found at some of the Upsarokas whose medicine bags have been stolen by the Sioux-Ogellallah. To restore their honor, they too join society.

The grand finale takes place in Yellowstone National Park. The prisoners can be rescued, and the chief of the Sioux Ogellallah, Hong-peh-te-keh (the heavy moccasin), is killed trying to escape as punishment for his actions. The remaining enemies surrender and one becomes reconciled with them.

Edition history

"The Bear Hunter's Son" was published from January 8th to the third week of September 1887 in 39 deliveries in the 1st year of the boys' magazine " Der Gute Kamerad " . The story was so successful from the start that the publisher Wilhelm Spemann expressed the wish for a book to be published before the text was finished. It was not until 1889 that an agreement could be reached. On January 1, 1890, a book publisher was founded with the name Verlag der Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft and the publishing locations Stuttgart, Berlin and Leipzig. The first May volume to appear in the same year was “Der Sohn des Bärenjäger” . The circumference was set at 29 sheets. Since the “bear hunter” only filled around 19 sheets, Spemann asked May whether he could combine the story with the story Der Geist des Llano Estacado and use a few connecting elements to transform it into a single coherent story. Furthermore, the author was asked to increase the number of chapters for better readability.

Karl May ignored the request to merge the two stories directly. To what extent he is responsible for deletions and an increase in the number of chapters is controversial in Karl May research. A letter dated July 15, 1890 could be evidence that at least the most striking deletions of the text go back to Karl May himself. The deleted passages included two bear stories (the hunting experiences of fat Jemmy with a bear and the humor story about a hunting dog sniffing out a bear picture with which Jemmy wants to poke the hobble Frank ) and a longer dialogue between Winnetou and the Shoshone chief Tokvi -tey, which mentions, among other things, how Winnetou and Old Shatterhand met each other. Since Karl May himself had described this episode differently in his story "The Scout" , it was probably deleted for this reason. These deletions amounted to about thirty book pages. The number of chapters has been increased from four to twelve. At the end of 1890, the "Bear Hunter" , together with the "Geist" , appeared as "The Bear Hunter's Son" under the title "The Heroes of the West" as the first volume of the so-called "red Union volumes".

In 1913, the Karl May Verlag succeeded in acquiring the rights to the story with the help of May's widow and estate administrator Klara . Together with the “Geist” it should appear as volume 35 in the green volumes of the “Collected Works”. Since the volume of the work would have been around 830 pages in the type area of ​​the "Collected Works", further reductions had to be made in order to get to the standard maximum of 640 pages. Above all, dialogues and landscape descriptions were drastically cut. The figure of Hobble Frank suffered from this in particular , and he lost some of his profile as a result. The non-May title was changed to "Unter Vultures". For decades, until the expiry of the term of protection, this remained the only available edition of the story, which is now accessible again in its original form.

a tale for young people

In contrast to his travel stories, May deliberately wrote his youth stories in the third person, which becomes clear in the weighting of the story. While the superego Old Shatterhand / Kara Ben Nemsi and Winnetou or Hajji Halef Omar are the main characters in the travel stories, it is Martin Baumann in the "Bear Hunter" , whose age is identical to that of the addressed readership.

Furthermore, the youth stories have a clearly instructive character, which is particularly hidden in the linguistic escapades of the Hobble-Frank, who with his constant mix-ups ensure that certain aspects that the author regards as general knowledge stick with the reader and thus benefit his education. The narrative conveyance of school knowledge is skilfully built into the action and complements the lessons in an entertaining way, in which information about foreign peoples, geography, botany and other natural sciences is passed on in an exciting and entertaining way. In addition, the youth stories should also propagate values ​​such as decency and humanity, including tolerance towards people with non-white skin color (in the bear hunter, among others, Wokadeh and the dark-skinned servant Bob).

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Letter from Wilhelm Spemann to Karl May of March 8, 1890.
  2. ^ Letter from Wilhelm Spemann to Karl May dated February 27, 1890.