Donnerstag, 25. September 2008

*The Noble Savage in Germany*

Germans have this weird fascination with American Indians. For some reason, they take every chance they can to dress up with feathers and headbands and face paint and moccasins and dresses with those dangly leather flap things (even for primary and ward and university activities). Their dances and costumes are never anything close to authentic, not that I can say what "authentic" is. They reflect their ideas of what American Indians would wear (mind you, I also would be stuck with stereotypes if I were to dress up as an Indian, and yes, it is correct to say "American Indian," I emailed the Library of Congress about it once, and I was actually disappointed, because I also thought "Native American" was better).

Anyway, I think this fascination stems from two things, but I don't think they really get down to it. 1. There was this German author named Karl May who wrote all sorts of cowboys and Indians books that sold very well and are now considered classics, though he never traveled to America until after the publication of his books, and then not further west than Buffalo, NY. However, that doesn't explain the success. 2. Maybe Germans' love for nature applauds those who lived "closer" to the land?

Whatever the reason, I wonder that May's American Indians were always perceived as the innocent noble savages and the lasting impression he has left with modern Germans. Was he/were Germans bitter about German settlers going to America? Did Karl May just write so well that interest was picqued and continues to this day? I don't know.

1 Kommentar:

JEM hat gesagt…

I'm so glad you told me about your blogs! They're AWESOME! I just read about a million posts here and after every one thought, "Yeah! TOTALLY!" I also love the German obsession with American Indians. I think it's akin to Americans' obsession with castles and knights and medieval societies.

Anyway, you should let me know if you're ever in Dresden. We could casually hang out like Americans. Or you could home teach us with Aaron. (He's our home teacher.) My e-mail address is jasmine.michaelson(at)

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