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Book Review


Kara Ben Nemsi I: Menjelajah Gurun

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A long saga which will take you to explore the Oriental World in a story which was written in no less than 7 years. And Karl May is simply the maestro of adventure stories. No less interesting than Winnetou series!
Comments on backcover of Kara Ben Nemsi I: Menjelajah Gurun

After successfully "awakens" Karl May's adventure characters, such as Old Shatterhand, and Winnetou in Indonesian literature world, now Pustaka Primatama Publisher, in coordination with Indonesian Karl May Society (PKMI) again published Karl May's adventure stories in the oriental world titled Kara Ben Nemsi I: Menjelajah Gurun (2005).

Publishing History in Indonesia

Kara Ben Nemsi adventure, which was the first book of the Oriental Cycle series by Karl May actually have been published in Indonesia by Pradnya Paramita publisher, titled Kara Ben Nemsi in 1965, which was translated from one of the Dutch's translation. Now, Kara Ben Nemsi series which took place in the "Oriental World" is republished and translated from American translation--Oriental Odyssey I: In The Shadow of Padishah: Through The Desert--by Psi Computer Pty, Ltd (2002), translated by Michael Michalak, a German descendant and Karl May fan from America. And the source used by Michalak himself was the original manuscript in German language, titled Giolgeda Padischanun, which was Karl May's manuscript when the story itself still in the form of a series published in German Magazine Deutcher Hausschatz in 19th century.

(Additional notes by: User:Agus_elex_2005) Giolgeda Padischanun manuscript was published later in the form of a book, titled Durch die Wüste und Harem and then republished with title Durch die Wüste in 1895.

The Story[sunting | sunting sumber]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Kara Ben Nemsi tells the story of Old Shatterhand (the main character from Winnetou series) but now took the name Kara Ben Nemsi, which means "Karl (the author's name) the German descendant". This time, he explored the oriental world to learn the tradition and custom of local people there.

The book consists of four stories: Abu El Nassr (Father of Victory), Tschikarma (Kidnapping), Abu Seif (Father of the Sword), and War in the Desert. Each story, although seems to stand by itself, is a continuing story.

The story started at the desert when Kara Ben Nemsi, accompanied by his faithful servant Halef Omar, found horse footprints in the sand, which after been followed, belonged to a corpse, which was killed along with his horse. Moved by his strong humanity feelings and a few clues gathered from the corpse, Kara Ben Nemsi and Halef tried to find the murderer. The investigation became more difficult because they have to cross the Sahara with its chotts (a kind of salt swamp which behaved like a quicksand) ready to swallow everyone who tried to cross it.

In Tschikarma, Kara Ben Nemsi pretends to be a physician and tried to rescue the daughter of a Turkish merchant kidnapped by a "Mamur" (ruler of an area) in Egypt.

Kara Ben Nemsi's adventure continued. In Abu Seif (Father of the Sword), Kara Ben Nemsi successfully entered Mecca by way of his cunningness, the Moslem sacred town which was banned to non-Moslem at the time. The funny thing is, after successfully entered Mecca, he was titled Hajji by his friends.

In War in the Desert, Kara Ben Nemsi acted like a General and gave European war style training and strategic advice to desert tribes who were about to be attacked. He also arranged the division of war loot from the defeated tribes.

Spoiler ends here.

Conclusion[sunting | sunting sumber]

Apart from the interesting story, this book also depicted the position and geographical condition of the desert in detail and bits and pieces on life in the exotic oriental world. To enrich imagination, readers are presented with some maps of Kara Ben Nemsi's journey, and illustration reproduced from classical sources bye Joseph Ulrich, from Karl May's Ilustrieste Werke, published by Karl May Verlag. Besides all that, philosophical dialogues about humanity and relationship between religion believers in the book could enrich readers' spiritual feelings. The book also enclosed with a special section about some glossary of Moslem world which used abundantly in the book. Although translated by four different translator, the consistency of the result is well kept, so the part of translator and editor must also be appreciated. This book is presented by the publisher to spoil the readers about Karl May's adventure stories. And surely it is as interesting as Winnetou series!

Notes on the Translation[sunting | sunting sumber]

(Additional notes by: User:Agus_elex_2005) Not all contents of Durch die Wüste were translated in this book. The story was cut out after The War in the Desert and continued in the second book titled: Kara Ben Nemsi II: Penyembah Setan. The cause was that the story of The Devil Worshipper in Durch die Wüste were cut out and continued in Durchs Wilde Kurdistan.

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