Mad King: A Biography of Ludwig II of Bavaria

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Schattenknigshadow kingof a doomed monarchy from his accession at the age of 18 in 1864, Ludwig II reigned over Bavaria but never ruled. The day after his forced abdication in 1886, his body was found in Lake Starnberg, a presumed suicide. Neither lawgiver nor warrior, Ludwig left behind several dreamy, mock-Gothic castles and the music dramas of Wagner, whom he patronized. Despite his prodigality and retreat into brooding isolation, he is remembered almost wistfully as the storybook-handsome young sovereign whose early promise ended in insanity and mysterious death. There have been notable biographies in English, the last being Wilfrid Blunt's The Dream King, published in 1970. This newest life by King (The Man Who Killed Rasputin) is more informative about Ludwig's upbringing and inadequate preparation for his royal role. His "fragile sexual identity" also failed him; after the wedding to a teenage cousin was canceled, he hid away in castles far from the state capital of Munich to carry on what he thought were clandestine liaisons with princes and stableboys. By 30, dissipation had cost him his health and his looks. His relationship with Wagner, whom he had championed for 18 years, also went sour. The pathetic, decadent life of Ludwig II repels more than it enthralls, despite King's attempt to sentimentalize him and make him sympathetic. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Ludwig II (1845-86) was eminently unsuited for the Bavarian throne. A dreamy, sensitive introvert, he shunned all court duties and society. Guilt-ridden over his homosexual desires, he never married, destabilizing Bavaria's throne while Bismarck's Prussia strengthened its position. Ludwig's only passionate interests were Richard Wagner's operas (Wagner wrote most of the Ring cycle for Ludwig) and building grand architectural follies like the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. Finally, his ministers, convinced he was insane, had him deposed and confined. One day later, he mysteriously drowned. King (The Man Who Killed Rasputin, LJ 11/15/95) gives a straightforward account of Ludwig's sad life, quoting many of Ludwig's letters to highlight his artistic, tormented soul. King also makes a convincing case for "death by misadventure," suggesting a drunken, overwrought Ludwig drowned in an escape attempt. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.Robert Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Bryn Mawr
Author/historian King profiles an aristocrat who continues to grab the hearts of German (and other) romantics, as evidenced in the nearly 5,000 books, plays, poems, films, and dances about him and the 10,000 visitors daily to the castle at Neuschwanstein. He ascended the Bavarian throne at the age of 18 in 1863, and nurtured his twin passions of architecture and music (his relationship with Wagner is thoroughly examined), until he was overthrown by his own government and family in 1886; soon after, he mysteriously disappeared. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559723626
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    KING LUDWIG The Fairy Tale King of Bavaria

    King Ludwig was the most expensive king that Bavaria ever had. he built castles upon castles and bought the most fabulous carriages a royal could ever had. His majestic carriage was the model for the fairy tale cartoon movies, like Cinderella. He had a fastidious liking for operas that he personally commisioned Richard Wagner to write operas for him. he had a greta liking for the other arts like architecture-as seen i n his castles-as well as objects like furniture and paintings. Out of budget, Bavaria had to finance his whims and fantasies inspite of his very fragile sexuality. This book is a staple on the king and is the best reading source before once embarks on a trip to Bavaria, the modern day Munich in Germany.
    Today his castles and artifacts stand as a monument for the king that he is. For those into Germanic or European royalty, this book is the most exhaustive of all written about the king. Its one of my favorite books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2009

    The very best

    This is the authority on Ludwig II. I have read four bio's on Ludwig, as well as seen everything on the world wide web that has anything to do with Ludwig, and this book is the very best one. Really, it's one of the best books I've ever read.

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