Travel Shadows by Justinus Kerner (BOK)
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Justinus Kerner (1786-1862) was one of the most celebrated figures in nineteenth-century German culture. A physician by training, he was also a leading member of the Swabian Romantic circle of poets which included, among others, Ludwig Uhland and Gustav Schwab. Kerner's international fame rests primarily on his contributions to the investigation of paranormal phenomena. The most important of these was his exhaustive case study, Die Seherin von Prevorst (The Seeress of Prevorst, 1829). The book was translated into English in 1849 by the English writer, Catherine Crowe (1803-76). Until the present, this has been the only work of Kerner available in English. Apart from his many scientific publications and his poetry, Kerner was also the author of one of the more intriguing literary works of German Romanticism, Die Reiseschatten (Travel Shadows, 1811). Ostensibly an account of his travels through Germany and Austria following his graduation from the University of Tubingen, the book is a highly imaginative, almost surreal concoction of Romantic, sentimental, grotesque, satirical, and Old German folkloric elements. Attributed by Kerner to an itinerant "shadow performer" named Lux, Travel Shadows was inspired by the tradition of "Chinese Shadows" (ombres chinoises) and represents Kerner's attempt to create a travel narrative in the form of a grandiose shadow show. In the introduction to his translation of Travel Shadows - the first in English - Harold B. Segel situates Kerner's work in the context of the emergence of a German shadow show tradition in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.