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Old Shatterhand

Karl May as Old Shatterhand, 1896

Old Shatterhand is a fictional character in western novels by German writer Karl May (1842-1912). He is the German friend and blood brother of Winnetou, the fictional chief of the Mescalero tribe of the Apache. He is the main character in the Eurowestern by the same name from 1964, starring Lex Barker.

Old Shatterhand is the alter ego of Karl May, and May himself maintained that he experienced all the adventures in person, even though in fact he did not visit America until after he wrote most of his well-known Western stories, and never traveled west of Buffalo, NY. Most of the stories are written from a first person perspective, and Winnetou often calls Old Shatterhand my brother Scharlee ('Scharlee' being a German phonetic approximation of 'Charlie', and ultimately meaning Karl in German). May also wrote stories about the same character traveling the Orient, where he is known as Kara Ben Nemsi.

May attached the prefix Old to the names of several of his characters, considering it to be typically American and a sign of the characters' great experience. In the stories, Old Shatterhand is given the name by his friend Sam Hawkins (who also originates from Germany but is already an old-timer in the American West), as he was able to knock his opponents unconscious with a single punch from his fist aimed at the head (specifically the temple).

Old Shatterhand owns two famous rifles, the Bärentöter (Bear Killer) and the Henrystutzen (Henry Carbine), both made by a fictional gunsmith called Henry in St. Louis (based on gunsmith Benjamin Tyler Henry 1821-1898). The Henrystutzen was able to fire 25 shots without reloading, probably a hyperbolic reference to the Henry rifle. Old Shatterhand rode a horse called Hatatitla (Lightning), which he got from Winnetou, who rode the horse's brother, called Iltschi (meaning Wind).

The tales may have been an influence on the creation of the Lone Ranger media franchise.


[edit] Original German Old Shatterhand stories

[edit] Travel stories

  • Deadly Dust (1880, later revised for Winnetou III')
  • Ein Oelbrand (1882/83)
  • Im â»wilden Westenâ« Nordamerika's (1882/83, later revised for Winnetou III)
  • Winnetou I (1893, temporarily also entitled as Winnetou der Rote Gentleman I)
  • Winnetou II (1893, temporarily also entitled as Winnetou der Rote Gentleman II)
  • Winnetou III (1893, temporarily also entitled as Winnetou der Rote Gentleman III)
  • Old Surehand I (1894)
  • Old Surehand II (1895)
  • Old Surehand III (1896)
  • Satan und Ischariot I (1896)
  • Satan und Ischariot II (1897)
  • Satan und Ischariot III (1897)
  • Gott läßt sich nicht spotten (within Auf fremden Pfaden, 1897)
  • Ein Blizzard (within Auf fremden Pfaden, 1897)
  • Mutterliebe (1897/98)
  • âžWeihnacht!â (1897)
  • Im Reiche des silbernen Löwen I (1898)
  • Winnetou IV (1910)

[edit] Stories for the youth

  • Unter der Windhose (1886, later also within Old Surehand II)
  • Der Sohn des Bärenjägers (1887, since 1890 within Die Helden des Westens)
  • Der Geist des Llano estakado (1888, since 1890 within Die Helden des Westens)
  • Der Schatz im Silbersee (1890/91)
  • Der Oelprinz (1893/94)
  • Der schwarze Mustang (1896/97)

In some early stories (Old Firehand (1875), Im fernen Westen (1879), Der Scout (1888/89)) there is an anonymous first-person narrator, who was changed to Old Shatterhand by revision for Winnetou II.

In the story Im Reiche des silbernen Löwen IV (1903) Kara Ben Nemsi says he was Old Shatterhand.

[edit] Movies

The character of Old Shatterhand was played in the German Karl May movies of the 1960s by American actor Lex Barker.

  • Der Schatz im Silbersee (The Treasure of Silver Lake) (1962), dir.: Dr. Harald Reinl
  • Winnetou 1. Teil (Apache Gold) (1963), dir.: Dr. Harald Reinl
  • Old Shatterhand (Apaches Last Battle) (1964), dir.: Hugo Fregonese (imdb.com)
  • Winnetou 2. Teil (Last of the Renegades) (1964), dir.: Dr. Harald Reinl
  • Winnetou 3. Teil (The Desperado Trail) (1965), dir.: Dr. Harald Reinl
  • Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi (Half-Breed) (1966), dir.: Harald Philipp
  • Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten (Winnetou and Shatterhand in the Valley of Death) (1968), dir.: Dr. Harald Reinl

[edit] Trivia

  • Stewart Granger starred in several movies as a character named "Old Surehand". Old Surehand is another character created by Karl May and is not to be confused with Old Shatterhand. Karl May dedicated three volumes to the character Old Surehand who is like Old Shatterhand a renowned Western hero, and is best friends with the Native Americans. Unlike Old Shatterhand, Old Surehand is a half-blood Native himself, though raised in a white family. In contrast to the stories in the movies Unter Geiern (1964) and Der Ölprinz (1965) Old Surehand was the hero instead of Old Shatterhand.
  • In Ian Fleming's James Bond novel You Only Live Twice (1964), the alias of villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld was Dr. Guntram Shatterhand.

[edit] English translations of Karl May's works

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