Friday, March 28, 2014

Max und Moritz: It Doesn't Pay to be Naughty

One hundred fifty years ago, the forerunner of the modern comic book was born: Max and Moritz, A Story of Seven Pranks (Max und Moritz - Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen). This classic tale by Wilhelm Busch recounts the "adventures" of two boys who wreak havoc in a small German village, causing a tailor to almost drown, a dog to be beaten, and a teacher to be burned. Of course, in the German tradition, no wrong goes unpunished, and the duo meet an untimely death when they are ground into bits at a mill and devoured by ducks. The stories are an important part of German literature; and even today, parents read these graphic tales to their young children. The moral: it doesn't pay to be naughty.

An exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of Max and Moritz is currently on display at the Deutsche Museum für Karikatur und Zeichenkunst in Hannover, and includes over 350 original drawings and rare manuscripts. It's definitely worth a trip, if only to understand German sensibilities.

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