Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 43 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHANN KARL AUGUST MUSAUS (1735-1787), German author, was born on the 29th of March 1735 at Jena, studied theology at the university, and would have become the pastor of a parish but for the resistance of some peasants, who objected that he had been known to dance. In 176o to 1762 he published in three volumes his first work, Grandison der Zweite, afterwards (in 1781–1782) rewritten and issued with a new title, Der deutsche Grandison. The object of this book was to satirize Samuel Richardson's hero, who had many sentimental admirers in Germany. In 1763 Musaus was made master of the court pages at Weimar, and in 1769 he became professor at the Weimar gymnasium. His second book—Physiognomische Reisen—did not appear until 1778–1779. It was directed against Lavater, and attracted much favourable attention. In 1782 to 1786 he published his best work Volksmarchen der Dents-then. Even in this series of tales, the substance of which Musaus collected among the people, he could not refrain from satire. The stories, therefore, lack the simplicity of genuine folk-lore. In 1785 was issued Freund Heins Erscheinungen in Holbeins Manic?. by J. R. Schellenberg, with explanations in prose and verse by Musaus. A collection of stories entitled Straussfedern, of which a volume appeared in 1787, Musaus was prevented from completing by his death on the 28th of October 1787. The Volksmarchen have been frequently reprinted (Dusseldorf, 1903, &c.). They were translated into French in 1844, and three of the stories are included in Carlyle's German Romance (1827) ; Musaus's Nach elassene Scriften were edited by his relative, A. von Kotzebue (1791. See M. Muller, J. K. A. Musaus (1867), and an essay by A. Stern in Beitrage zur Literaturgeschichte des z8. Jahrhunderts (1893).
End of Article: JOHANN KARL AUGUST MUSAUS (1735-1787)

Additional information and Comments

J. Musaus wrote the first version of "The Bottle Imp" story, which was rewritten by Robert Louis Stevenson, with the story relocated to Hawaii. None of the websites for "The Bottle Imp" or "Robert Louis Stevenson" recognize this. It's a great story, but Johann Musaus (with umlauted A) deserves some of the credit for being the first to print what may be an old folk tale. The story may be found in "Gothic Tales of Terror - Volume Two" by Peter Haining (Penguin 1972)
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