Baron Munchausen book report - detailed analysis, book summary, literary elements, character analysis, Gottfried August Bürger biography, and everything necessary for active class participation.
The book Baron Munchausen was published for the first time in 1786 and since then it has been republished many times. When Gottfried August Bürger published it for the first time the full title Singular Travels, Campaigns, Voyages, and Sporting Adventures of Baron Munnikhouson, commonly pronounced Munchausen; as he relates them over a Bottle when surrounded by his Friends, and it described the book better.
Bürger did not create Munchausen. He was created by a German writer and scientist Rudolf Erich Raspe and based on a real man named Münchhausen whom Raspe met while he was a student.
Raspe wrote anecdotes inspired by Munchausen's events and some other books. The stories became rather popular and they were meant for different social circles. Since the publishers rewrote some of them Raspe couldn't control which stories were his, which were alternated, and which were added. Bürger was only one of the translators of this work. Raspe wrote in English and he lived in England after running away from Germany in fear of execution. With time Bürger started writing his own versions of the stories and they became even more popular than the originals.
In pop culture, Munchausen became a synonym for a liar and a person who exaggerates events to the point in which they seem fictional. In the book, Munchausen is a man who tells cheerful and strange events and entertains the guests around the table filled with food.
In medicine, there is a psychological syndrome called Munchausen's syndrome. The people who have it tend to exaggerate their health issues whether they're true or fake. Even if they aren't ill they will go to their doctor and demand to be cured.
Genre: action, adventure,
Setting: Russia during the 18th century
Point of view: first-person
Narrator: Baron Münchhausen, the Hanoverian storyteller
Theme: Stories about the 18th-century German nobleman Baron Munchausen
Marvelous Travels and Adventures of Baron Munchausen
In the castle Bodenwerder lived the Baron Munchausen, he was like a hunting dog; a man who looked everywhere had to know everything and be everywhere. While the winter raged on outside he was expecting his guests. Munchausen wasn't a very young man and no one knew what his real hair color was underneath his gray wig. His servant Hannes gave something to drink to each guest. He gathered them all in a room by the fireplace.
When everyone sat around the table a big, red, velvet chair remained empty. The Baron was clearly upset about it. He was constantly trying to hear if the man, whose chair it was, was coming. He told his guests and friends he hunted with that he is expecting another guest and he hopes he will get there in time before the dinner is done. He decided to entertain his guests by telling them a story.
Traveling to Russia
While they were waiting for the guest he told them all about his journey to Russia. He chose to go there in the winter to make the path a bit harder. He was traveling alone with his horse for days. When the night would fall, they would find a safe place where they would eat, rest and wait for the morning. The journey lasted for about a week.
One day when it got dark the Baron thought the path disappeared in front of him and his horse, he couldn't see anything. Not a house, church, or a road. He saw a tree and he tied his horse to it. He placed his two guns under his armpits and fell asleep right by his horse. When he woke up it was already day. The Baron looked around but he couldn't find his horse.
When he looked up, he saw his horse tied up to a church bell and he was in between two graves. They spent the night in a cemetery but how did the horse end up tied up to the top of the church bell.
The last night so much snow fell that it covered the whole village. What Munchausen thought was a tree was actually the church bell, during the night the snow melted and the baron ended up on the ground but his horse was tied up there. The people looked at the two of them with fear, he remembered his two guns, took them, shot the ropes with which the horse was tied up, and went away with him.
They were traveling for a while when he decided to buy a sled because it was customary in Russia. He tied them to the horse and they continued. They found themselves in a forest where a hungry wolf saw them and started chasing them. The horse was going faster but so was the wolf and he almost bit the Baron. Munchausen lay down in the sled and hid from the wolf who then attacked the horse. The wolf started eating the insides of the horse, pushing himself further into the carcass of the animal. The Baron then had an idea, he decided to whip the wolf and make his push even further ahead. His clever idea got him to Petersburg where he was as surprised as the other citizens.
When he finished his story he invited his servant to check if the last guest was there. When he noticed that the guests were still there he told another story.
The Strange General
Munchausen told them all about his military service in Russia. He spent a lot of time there and he spent many nights having fun with his friends who were mostly artists. The harsh winter and Russian customs stated that everyone should drink a lot. Out of all the artists one stood out in particular when it came to drinking and it was a grayish general who was able to drink liters and liters of brandy without it affecting him. Munchausen started to observe him because he didn't know how someone could drink and be sober.
The general told him that once, during a battle, he lost half of his skull and that it was the reason why he always had a hat on. The general would every now and then adjust his hat while he was drinking and Munchausen found it to be interesting. He stood behind him and saw that the hat was attached to a metal piece and he knew it was a substitute for the skull. He also thought there was steam coming out of his skull.
That's how he figured out this mystery. He even made an experiment. The baron stood behind him and every time he would raise his hat while the general was smoking a halo would appear above his head. Everyone was amazed and a bit terrified.
The next story is about the Baron's staying near Petersburg where he could go hunting at any time. On a nearby lake, he saw ducks and decided to hunt them. They were all over the lake and he didn't have enough bullets for all of them so he had to gather them up. He had a piece of bacon in his pocket and he tied it up and threw it into the lake. The bacon came up to the surface and he hid. One duck swallowed it and it came out on the other side and the other ducks lined up with her.
When the last one joined them he pulled the string. The ducks were heavy and started to fly. They were actually helpful because they got him to the backyard where he was supposed to go but he had to get them to land. He started twisting the neck of one duck at a time and he climbed down the chimney into the room where his chef waited for him and he was excited about the big menu he was going to do today. Luckily there was no fire in the fireplace. The story caused excitement among the guests.
He started telling the tale of his dogs. His best and oldest dog was Treff and he got him while he was in Petersburg. The dog was taught to hunt both during the day and night. He would sit by a little lamp in the evening and stare at it. One time Munchausen tied a lamp around his tail and went rabbit hunting in the middle of the night.
The dog was happily listening to the story and walked by proudly when the Baron was done.
Hunting for wild pigs
The Baron begins another story but before he tells his guests that they will be dining the pig that he is about to mention in his story. While he was hunting in the woods he saw two wild pigs walking side by side. He knew they belonged to each other when the animals got in his way he shot. The little pig got so scared that it ran away but the other one stayed frozen.
When he approached it, he saw it had a piece of tail hanging out of its mouth. The pig was blind and the pig which ran away was its guide. The Baron grabbed the piece of tail and took the pig home. Well, you know the rest, the guests were bursting into laughter when the baron started another story.
The deer with the cherry tree
Once while he was hunting in the forest, the Baron ran out of led and he had to go home but a deer got in his way. The Baron got a bit scared but soon he found a clever way out of it, he started filling his gun with copper and cherry seeds. With the loaded gun, he managed to knock the deer unconscious and run away.
Where did he get the seeds? Before crossing paths with the deer, he was walking by a cherry tree and he ate a lot of cherries while putting the seeds in his pocket. After a few years, he went back to the forest and saw a deer with a giant cherry tree between his antlers. This time he had led and he killed the deer. He got his meat and a free cherry sauce.
The adventure with the bear
Once in a forest in Russia, where bears are very common, the Baron was sharpening his knife when he heard a bear behind him. He was so scared that he dropped his knife and climbed up a tree. He watched to see if the bear would follow him. He was looking at his gun and got a clever idea. Since people often urinate when they are scared he aimed right into his knife and created ice from the tree to the ground. He managed to get his knife and fend off the bear.
After the story, his servant went to the door because another guest came.
An unexpected guest and his dog showed up. He sat in his chair and apologized to the guests for being late. The food was being served and all the animals were there, except for the deer. When they got full, the Baron kept on with his stories.
The horse on the coffee table
When the Baron was staying at a fellow count's house he entertained the ladies while the gentlemen went to see a certain horse, soon he heard a cry for help. When he came out he saw a crazy horse and fear on everyone's faces. He decided to ride the horse because he liked him. The ladies looking at him got a direct order for the Baron to step away from the window so that he could ride in on the horse. In the house, he taught the horse how to ride peacefully. They even climbed up on the coffee table without knocking any of the dishes down. The Baron got the horse as a gift for his battles against the Turks.
The horse on the well
While Munchausen was fighting against the Turks he had the best horse. Once, after a fight, the horse went to a well and started drinking water without stopping. He couldn't get enough of it. First, the Baron thought it was because of the horse's courage and long struggle but he saw a part of the horse's body was missing. That was the reason why he couldn't stop drinking. The water was running right out of him. The other warriors told him that the Turks cut off part of his horse while they were lowering the fence. Both of the horse's body parts were fine so they just stitched back together.
First naval adventure
The guests went to the front porch where Munchausen decided to tell them all about his naval adventures. When he was a little boy no one thought he would make it, until his mother's uncle came to visit. The Baron went to him on a trip. Except for one small hurricane, their journey was great. They stopped on an island where a married couple was picking cucumbers that grew on trees. They were on their honeymoon, on the tree when the hurricane came and they came too close to the sun so they had to wear glasses to protect them from the sun. After that unfortunate event, they became the king and the queen of the cucumbers.
Munchausen and his uncle continued on. The Baron was a guest at a governor's ship and he socialized with his son. They went hunting one day but the Baron was so tired that he was lagging. He only had enough ammunition to kill rabbits when all of a sudden a lion appeared in front of them. The Baron didn't know what to do so he fired at him. The lion was too far and he just got angry.
The lion started coming after him and the Baron started running but there was a crocodile on the other side. There was an abyss on one and a pond filled with snakes on the other side. Fearing the lion would jump at him, Munchausen ducked down and the lion jumped straight into the crocodile's open mouth. At that moment Munchausen grabbed his knife, cut off the lion's head, and suffocated the crocodile with it. He managed to kill two beasts and he became a hero.
Second naval adventure
Munchausen remembered his journey with captain Phipps and the event he saw in London. The London king was riding in the carriage and the coachman had a long beard. He had the Royal Coat of Arms in his beard. Every time he would hit the horse with his whip, he would whip it in the shape of the Coat of Arms. But that was just another thing he saw in London.
He was headed for the Arctic Ocean where he and the captain saw an iceberg and two hunters on the top of it. Of course that an expert hunter, such as Munchausen, wanted to stand there. All of a sudden he was surrounded by two bears and he didn't have time to get his gun ready. One knocked him down and covered him up so that only his legs were visible.
The baron managed to get his knife out and cut off some of the bear's toes and get out. He grabbed the bear and shot the bear. The shot woke up all of the bears which he hadn't noticed before because they blended in with the environment. They were going to attack him but he was clever enough to rip off the bear's skin and wear it as his own. He pretended to be a little bear so he came to play with every bear and then stabbed all of them. He sent a bear-themed gift to all of his friends and he only preserved one bearskin that hung on his doors. He also sent some gifts to the Russian queen that asked him to marry her afterward but he declined due to his lack of interest in the high life.
Third naval adventure
The guests were drinking while the Baron started a new story. He loved to travel to the Mediterranean and once he was bathing there he got into an accident. A giant fish wanted to eat him. He pulled his feet up to his chest and managed to sail right into the fish's stomach. He didn't know how to get out, so he started to jump around and made the fish hiccup. All of a sudden the fish jumped because the fisherman caught her.
When they started cutting her up the baron yelled. The fisherman saved him and fed him. Munchausen jumped into the sea because he wanted to get the fish's smell off of him. He swam to shore. Every time he smelled a fish he would get sick so he invited the guests to drink a little bit more with him.
Fourth naval adventure
While the Baron was young he had a chance to meet a sultan and the sultan trusted Munchausen with an important assignment about which he still can't talk about. He went to Cairo to finish it and he gathered some men along the way. Munchausen met a man with bars strapped to his feet. Munchausen asked him about them and he told him that his legs were so fast that he had to find a way to calm them down. Since he was no longer in service and didn't have to run he put on the bars. Munchausen accepted him immediately.
The next day he hired a man who lied down by the bush and listened to the grass and a hunter, just like him. They traveled through the forest and met a man who surrounded the forest with a rope because he forgot his ax. His house was far away and he had to cut down the trees. He didn't put in a lot of effort but, by pulling the rope, he managed to tear down the forest. Munchausen hired him too.
When they came to their destination they met a man who created wind. He abandoned millers and went with Munchausen. After a successfully completed assignment, they went back to the Sultan. Munchausen had many opportunities to socialize with him and the Sultan always gave him the best wine. Munchausen insulted his wine and said it can't be compared to the one he drank in Vienna. A bet was made and the Baron had an hour to get the best wine to the Sultan or he would lose his head.
Munchausen immediately sent the fastest man to get the wine. It seemed he won't make it in time so the man who listened to the grass found out he was sleeping. The hunter climbed up on a high tree and shot an arrow to wake him up. The fastest man got there half a minute before the time ran out and saved the Baron's life.
As a reward, he took as much gold and silver from the Sultan as he wanted. They took almost everything and ran to the ship. When the sultan realized he was without his gold he sent the fleet to catch them. The man who was able to create the wind destroyed the Russian fleet and they saved themselves. When they arrived in Italy Munchausen decided to give away his newly acquired fortune because the conditions in Italy were awful. There were also many thieves who stole the rest of their gold and so another adventure ended.
He told his guests he had many adventures to narrate but that they would take days, even weeks. He said goodbye to them until another adventure.
Munchausen - his full name was Hieronymus Carl Friedrich, the Baron of Munchausen and he existed in real life. He was born on May 11th, 1720 near Hannover, Germany, and he died on February 22nd, 1797.
The fictional character Munchausen dedicated his life to narrating the events which happened to him, or someone else, on his journeys but he always placed himself as the main character. He had spent his younger years exploring the world and as he got older he enjoyed hunting. His whole house had many hunting trophies.
He was an entertainer and a fraud. His guests laughed at him and asked for more stories which he retells with confidence even though he knows that his guests don't trust him. Munchausen loved to be the center of attention. Despite his lies, we can say he was a good character. He told lies to entertain others and he is the representative of humor and surreal realness. His stories had impossible events and he would always be the hero because he wanted to get his listener's admiration.
Gottfried August Bürger was born in Germany, on December 31, 1747. His father was a pastor and he was, from a young age, prone to writing verses in solitude. Since he was 12 he was raised by his maternal grandfather who sent him away to Halle to study. He had a hard time studying Latin so he went to study theology in 1764 and he ended up studying law. He started to be interested in writing and living in the wild. He had disagreements with his grandfather and he decided to settle down and enroll in another university.
He kept on living the way he wanted and his grandfather disinherited him. Bürger had to find a way to survive. He started teaching literature by reading the French, Italian and Spanish classics and studying the English and Scottish ballads.
Bürger published his first poem in 1771 and he became a famous poet the year later. When his grandfather took him back he paid off all of his debts. In 1773 he published one of his best poems "Lenore". In 1778 he became an editor and stayed until he passed away. He got married but he also fell in love with his wife's sister whom he refers to as Molly in many of his poems. When his wife passed away he married Molly but she passed away while giving birth only two years later. It left a great impact on him. Even though he was a professor and had a Ph.D. in psychology he lived off of low-paid book translations.
Despite his poems being considered the best ones written in German, he was well known for his translations of "Baron Munchausen" by Raspe. Bürger admitted to adapting and expanding Raspe's work which he translated from English. Even though he was only a translator, he started to be perceived as the true author and creator of the Munchausen character. Raspe even started hiding the fact that he had written the book.
Bürger died in poverty in Gottingen, where he worked as a professor, on June 8, 1794. Although he was primarily a poet, stories about Baron Munchausen kept his name in the top of the world's literature, not his poems.
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