Books/resource: Marryat’s Midshipman Easy – original German 19th century illustrations!

27 January, 2009 at 9:25 pm 2 comments

Between a pile of grandma’s crocheted doilies and boxes full of stamps and postcards, a book caught my eye at the local fleamarket. “Jack” by some “Franz Hoffmann”. Never heard of, but…

you can’t expect me to walk past an old children’s book with a cover showing people getting eaten by sharks!
Plus there were a ship and an uniform.

easyjack08

When I opened the book, I realised to my greatest surprise that, while announcing the adventures of “Jack, der tapfere Midshipman” (“Jack, the brave Midshipman”), it actually was a German translation of Captain Frederick Marryat’s “Midshipman Easy”! (You remember Marryat? The Royal Navy Ghostbuster?) So that‘s how you came to fame back in the 19th century, folks – by doing a (pretty bad) translation and slap your own name on it!

Today Mr Hoffmann would probably be chased by an angry mob for doing so, but back in those days, it was common practice. And he does give credit, of sorts. On page 8, he informs us that “Jack, the brave Midshipman” is a “tale for mature youths”, “adapted” from the English book of “Kapitän Marryat”. Means: “based on”, twisted and tweaked to suit the audience. So there.

As often the case with those old translations, the hero’s name has been changed to German, probably to make it easier for the readers to identify with “Johann Ruhig” (= Jack Easy). Other names were used in their original forms. (German readers might be interested that Marryat’s “Masterman Ready” ended up being “Sigismund Rüstig, der Bremer Steuermann”. Yes. I cackled, too.)

It’s difficult to date the book. It’s the third edition, and it’s been published somewhere between 1873 (first edition) and 1900. A sixth edition is dated 1910, but as one of the illustrators – illustrations, yes, we’re now getting to the interesting part! – died before the turn of the century, I’d guess we’re looking at a book from the end of the 19th century here. It’s not for reading, though – while I can handle the old script (yes, I’m one of those dinosaurs who can read “fracture”), the combined imperialistic arrogance and racist ignorance of both Britain and Germany demonstrated here, while normal at that time, are too much for me to stomach. “Yes, Massa, me good friend…” – gag!

But back to the illustrations. Six of them, and a cover! Or rather, seven illustrations, but one is missing. I understand that one’s a repetition of the cover, though. I’ve scanned the lot for you, have fun with them. They were printed after watercolours by Effenberger and Krämer. Click the small pics to get the full-sized versions.

The cover – kids just love sharks eating people!

easyjack01

Ill. 1: Ship goes boom!

easyjack02

Ill. 2: As usual, I cheer for the bull…

easyjack03

Ill. 3: Jack is getting masted

easyjack04

Ill. 4: Brawl and drama and a cap on the wall!

easyjack05

Ill. 5: Saved

easyjack06

Ill. 6: Unbelievable but true: this is NOT Buffalo Bill…

easyjack07

Well-invested three quid, I’d say.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: art, books, marryat, resource, royal navy, ships. Tags: , , , , , .

Books: “I Do!” anthology available now, also includes stories by Emma Collingwood and Alex Beecroft What shall we do with the tea-drinking and giggling sailor?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Meghan Driscoll  |  31 December, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Hi there
    My name is Meghan and I’m a Production Assistant working on a documentary for National Geographic Channel on the Bull Shark. I’m contacting you about your article about “Jack: The Brave Midshipman”. We’re looking for historical images to use in a segment depicting the public’s long-standing fear of sharks. The cover of this book is an illustration we’d love to use. I know that the work itself is public domain now, but I was wondering if you would mind providing a PDF scan of the illustration. Please contact me. Many thanks for your time.

    Kind Regards,
    Meghan Driscoll
    Hoff Productions
    mdriscoll@hoff.tv

    Reply
    • 2. joyfulmolly  |  31 December, 2009 at 12:49 am

      Hello Meghan

      You got mail.

      Cheers!

      Molly

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


FOLLOW ME!



Follow Me on Pinterest

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 341 other followers

MY LATEST BOOK

"THE RADIANT BOY"
Four Ghost Stories from the Age of Sail


Click here for a preview!
Click here to order!

RECOMMENDED AGE OF SAIL WRITING

EMMA COLLINGWOOD ONLINE

Love, Suspense and Sarcasm in the Age of Sail

ALEX BEECROFT
Adventure and Romance

OLD CUDDY - COLLINGWOOD 2010
Tribute to Admiral Lord Collingwood on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his death at sea

OFFICIAL COLLINGWOOD 2010 WEBSITE
2010 is the year to celebrate a great man.

LINKS

MOLLY JOYFUL'S LIST OF USEFUL RESOURCES
Royal Navy, general 18th century history, biographies, books, art etc.


JOYFUL MOLLY ON LIVEJOURNAL
Same entries as on wordpress, but with additional RNotC fandom content (icons, updates on fanfic, meta etc.) and discussion.

RECOMMENDED BLOGS

GARROW'S LAW
Maintained by Mark Pallis, Legal and Historical Consultant on the BBC show

THE OFFICIAL WEBLOG OF WOLFGANG AMADÉ MOZART
THE DUTCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE'S GOSSIP GUIDE TO THE 18TH CENTURY
ONE MORE STITCH
Reproduction and historic knitting inspired by original garments, objects and patterns from the past.

GILLRAY'S PRINTSHOP OF HISTORICAL ABSURDITIES
Being one amateur historian's exploration of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Blog Stats

  • 389,915 hits
site stats

%d bloggers like this: