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This article is taken from PN Review 92, Volume 19 Number 6, July - August 1993.

Caspar Hauser: First and Second Cantos David Constantine

Caspar Hauser was incarcerated for most of his childhood and adolescence. Then he appeared in Nuremberg at Whitsuntide 1828, able to write his name and say - without understanding it - one sentence: I want to be a rider like my father was. He was attacked with a heavy razor in October 1829, and stabbed to death just before Christmas 1833. Why he was confined, let out, murdered, has never been quite explained. Probably he had a claim to the throne of Baden; but because of his innocence and the extraordinary reactions of his untried nervous system to a life in the daylight people at once invested more than a dynastic, political, worldly interest in him. He was an enigma, and excited all kinds of hopes and longings.

This first Canto depicts his life in confinement and his arrival in Nuremberg. In those to follow I view him through the eyes of certain people with whom he had the closest dealings. Experts will see that I have taken some but not all that many liberties with historical fact.

* * *

First Canto

I
Whit Monday 1828 he stood
In Nuremberg in the biggest empty square
Bang in the middle of it where

They burned people and broke them on the wheel
And showed their hearts and bowels to other people.
He stood there swaying on his sticky feet,

His head was ...


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