Kaspar

Kaspar

by Diane Obomsawin
     
 

A sad and cautionary tale of mystery, fame, murder, and innocence

May 28, 1828, marked the beginning of the official life of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who appeared mysteriously in the streets of Nuremberg and died of knife wounds five years later under equally mysterious circumstances. "Europe's child," as pamphleteers referred to him, captured the imagination

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Overview

A sad and cautionary tale of mystery, fame, murder, and innocence

May 28, 1828, marked the beginning of the official life of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who appeared mysteriously in the streets of Nuremberg and died of knife wounds five years later under equally mysterious circumstances. "Europe's child," as pamphleteers referred to him, captured the imagination of salon society. Allegedly raised in a dark cellar and deprived of human contact until the age of sixteen, he became the proof of a concept for theories about natural man, original sin, and the civilizing mission of culture. Rightful heir to the throne of Baden or a fraud? Redeemer of man's sins or "ambulatory automatist"? The curious circumstances and significance of his life have been disputed ever since.

In Kaspar, Quebec cartoonist Diane Obomsawin draws on Hauser's own writings, and contemporary accounts, to tell the foundling's strange story. Minimalist grayscale panels and the simplest of line work register the wonder and bewilderment of a trusting and sensitive soul emerging into a fickle society. Gentle and poetic, naïve and profound, Obomsawin's first book to appear in English translation has a quiet and compelling charm.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Caspar] presented an opportunity for observation of the highest interest to the physiological philosopher, the moralist, the religious teacher, the physiologist and physician—an opportunity which must be as rare as the crime which has afforded it.”

—Francis Lieber, 1832, preface to Caspar Hauser:

An Account of an Individual Kept in a Dungeon

School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up

In early-19th-century Germany, a young man, perhaps in his teens, was discovered living in a tomblike cellar. Kaspar Hauser had known no other existence: light, walking, the horizon, and human contact were all alien to his experience. Rescued and humanely studied by scientists of the day, he demonstrated remarkable intelligence and learned not only to speak and write, but also to express himself through poetry and art. Supported for a decade through the emotional and material generosity of a variety of gentry and public funds until the time of his equally mysterious death, by murder, Hauser remains an enigma with a touching and compelling legacy. Obomsawin's simple, flat black-and-white drawings are a perfect medium for his story, which the author tells from his viewpoint, basing the narrative on his own writings. Like the subject's known life, the brevity of this book solidifies the wonder of its unknown details. One of Hauser's still-life paintings and a couple of his poems are included. A wide array of readers will appreciate this introduction to a historical mystery with ramifications that speak to a variety of circumstances and across time.-Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781897299678
Publisher:
Drawn & Quarterly
Publication date:
03/03/2009
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
8.24(w) x 6.08(h) x 0.26(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Montreal in 1959, Diane Obomsawin spent the first twenty years of her life in France. Trained in graphic design, she returned to Canada in 1983 and turned her attention to painting, comics, and animation. Here and There, an autobiographical film about the artist's rootless childhood, has garnered numerous prestigious distinctions.

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