The Encyclopedia Americana (1906)/Münchausen, Hieronymus Karl Friedrich

For works with similar titles, see Münchausen, Hieronymus Karl Friedrich.

Münchausen, münH'how-zĕn, Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, Baron: b. Bodenwerder, Hanover, 1720; d. there 1797. He was a German soldier and served in his youth as a cavalry officer in the Russian army. He was possessed of an adventurous and dare-devil spirit, and an imagination that knew no bounds. He told the most wonderful stories of his adventures in the Turkish campaign of 1737-9, and soon became famous as the most unique exaggerator that ever lived. The tradition of the baron's story-telling is supported by the evidence of a clergyman, who says that in his old days the officer used to relate his most surprising adventures "in a cavalier manner, with a military emphasis, but without any passion and with the easy humor of a man of the world, as things which required no explanation or proof. His tales are thought to have been first compiled by Rudolf Erich Raspe, a man of letters, who, being compelled to flee from his position as curator of the museum at Cassel to England on account of a charge of embezzlement, was engaged in London in literary pursuits, and is generally believed to have published anonymously an English edition of the stories under the title of 'Baron Münchausen's Narrative of his Marvelous Travels and Campaigns in Russia' (1785). A second edition, enlarged and ornamented, was published at Oxford in 1786, under the title of 'The Singular Travels, Campaigns, Voyages, and Sporting Adventures of Baron Munnikhousen,' commonly pronounced Munchausen; as he relates them over a bottle when surrounded by his friends. A third edition, published by Kearsley in London the same year, bore the title of 'Gulliver Revived.' One of the best editions is that by Shore (1872), illustrated by Doré, with additions by Theodore Gautier.

It is said that a large proportion of the hunting tales are derived from Henry Bebel's 'Facetiæ' (1508), while other incidents are borrowed from Castiglione's 'Cortegiano' and Bildermann's 'Utopia,' which are included in Lange's 'Deliciæ Academicæ> (1765).