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Caspar Hauser: The Inertia of the Heart…
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Caspar Hauser: The Inertia of the Heart (20th Century Classics) (original 1908; edition 1993)

by Jakob Wassermann

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1651107,512 (3.8)3
Member:zenosbooks
Title:Caspar Hauser: The Inertia of the Heart (20th Century Classics)
Authors:Jakob Wassermann
Info:Penguin Classics (1993), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Penguin Classic Paperback Literature Germany Translated

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Caspar Hauser by Jakob Wassermann (1908)

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» See also 3 mentions

Who was Caspar Hauser? He appeared in Nuremburg in 1828, seeming to be about 17 years old and claiming to have been kept most of his life in a tiny castle cell where he had no contact with the outside world. He did have a jailer, but that man did not show Caspar his face, nor provide him with more than bread, milk and a very rudimentary vocabulary.

For unknown reasons, Hauser is “released” … left in the Nuremburg with two letters in his pocket that seemed to have been written with the purpose of having him join the army. He was, at this stage, a teenager with the mind and experiences of a toddler.

Various people attempt to discover the truth about him and “help” him make his way. Ultimately, of course, most believe him to be some kind of con man (that’s called “projecting”), treat him cruelly and he’s mysteriously murdered.

This book is a novelization of those events, written about 100 years after the fact, and very smoothly translated. Part of Hauser’s difficulties result from the fact that, due to his bizarre childhood and lack of socialization, he continually lies to people about little things in his daily life so as not to disappoint them or cause confrontations. Or that’s the feeling I got … not that he was lying to be evil.

The cruelty people show to him is really amazing and always for his own good, a theme that definitely resonates with me.

Interestingly, there’s a scene in the book in which one of Hauser’s tormentors, Quandt, a teacher in whose home Hauser must live, witnesses a man beating a horse in the street a la Crime and Punishment. Quandt is livid at the scene, writes up some kind of report, and later asks Hauser to take it to a certain police lieutenant, also a Hauser tormentor. The lieutenant is away and nothing comes of it.

More interestingly, IWHO (that’s “in Wikipedia’s humble opinion), it seems likely that Hauser was, in fact, at least a blood relation of a German royal family from that time.

Recommended! ( )
2 vote KromesTomes | Jul 13, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jakob Wassermannprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hulse, MichaelTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beversen, N.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In den ersten Sommertagen des Jahres 1828 liefen in Nürnberg sonderbare Gerüchte über einen Menschen, der im Vestnerturm auf der Burg in Gewahrsam gehalten wurde und der sowohl der Behörde wie den ihn beobachtenden Privatpersonen täglich mehr zu staunen gab.
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