Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) (original: Max und
Moritz – Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen) is a German
language illustrated story in verse. This highly inventive, blackly
humorous tale, told entirely in rhymed couplets, was written and
Wilhelm Busch and published in 1865. It is among the
early works of Busch, nevertheless it already features many
substantial, effectually aesthetic and formal regularities, procedures
and basic patterns of Busch's later works. Many familiar with comic
strip history consider it to have been the direct inspiration for the
Katzenjammer Kids and Quick & Flupke. The German title satirizes
the German custom of giving a subtitle to the name of dramas in the
form of "Ein Drama in ... Akten" (A Drama in ... Acts), which became
dictum in colloquial usage for any event with an unpleasant or
dramatic course, e.g. "Bundespräsidentenwahl - Drama in drei Akten"
(Federal Presidential Elections - Drama in Three Acts).
1 Cultural significance
2 The pranks
2.2 First Trick: The Widow
2.3 Second Trick: The Widow II
2.4 Third Trick: The Tailor
2.5 Fourth Trick: The Teacher
2.6 Fifth Trick: The Uncle
2.7 Sixth Trick: The Baker
2.8 Final Trick: The Farmer
3 Media adaptations
5 External links
Busch's classic tale of the terrible duo (now in the public domain)
has since become a proud part of the culture in German-speaking
countries. Even today, parents usually read these tales to their
not-yet-literate children. To this day in Germany, Austria, and
Switzerland, a certain familiarity with the story and its rhymes is
still presumed, as it is often referenced in mass communication. The
two leering faces are synonymous with mischief, and appear almost
logo-like in advertising and even graffiti.
During World War 1, the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, named his
dog Moritz, giving the name Max to another animal given to his
Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz is the first published original foreign children’s
Japan which was translated into rōmaji by Shinjirō Shibutani
and Kaname Oyaizu in 1887 as Wanpaku monogatari ("Naughty
Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz became the forerunners to the comic strip. The story
Rudolph Dirks to create The Katzenjammer Kids.
After World War 2, German-U.S. composer
Richard Mohaupt created
together with choreographer Alfredo Bortoluzzi the dance burlesque
(Tanzburleske) Max und Moritz, which premiered at Badisches
Staatstheater Karlsruhe on December 18, 1949.
The widow's four chickens (first trick)
The widow's house (second trick)
Sawing through the bridge planks (third trick)
The teacher with his pipe (fourth trick)
The uncle and the May bugs (fifth trick)
The baker with
Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz covered in dough (sixth trick)
The fate of
Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz (final trick)
There have been several English translations of the original German
verses over the years, but all have maintained the original trochaic
Ah, how oft we read or hear of
Boys we almost stand in fear of!
For example, take these stories
Of two youths, named Max and Moritz,
Who, instead of early turning
Their young minds to useful learning,
Often leered with horrid features
At their lessons and their teachers.
Look now at the empty head: he
Is for mischief always ready.
Teasing creatures - climbing fences,
Stealing apples, pears, and quinces,
Is, of course, a deal more pleasant,
And far easier for the present,
Than to sit in schools or churches,
Fixed like roosters on their perches
But O dear, O dear, O deary,
When the end comes sad and dreary!
'Tis a dreadful thing to tell
Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz fell!
All they did this book rehearses,
Both in pictures and in verses.
First Trick: The Widow
The boys tie several crusts of bread together with thread, and lay
this trap in the chicken yard of Bolte, an old widow, causing all the
chickens to become fatally entangled.
This prank is remarkably similar to the eighth history of the classic
German prankster tales of Till Eulenspiegel.
Second Trick: The Widow II
As the widow cooks her chickens, the boys sneak onto her roof. When
she leaves her kitchen momentarily, the boys steal the chickens using
a fishing pole down the chimney. The widow hears her dog barking and
hurries upstairs, finds the hearth empty and beats the dog.
Third Trick: The Tailor
The boys torment Böck, a well-liked tailor who has a fast stream
flowing in front of his house. They saw through the planks of his
wooden bridge, making a precarious gap, then taunt him by making goat
noises (a pun on his name being similar to the zoological expression
'buck'), until he runs outside. The bridge breaks; the tailor is swept
away and nearly drowns (but for two geese, which he grabs a hold of
and which fly high to safety).
Although Till removes the planks of the bridge instead of sawing them
there are some similarities to
Till Eulenspiegel (32nd History).
Fourth Trick: The Teacher
While their devout teacher, Lämpel, is busy at church, the boys
invade his home and fill his favorite pipe with gunpowder. When he
lights the pipe, the blast knocks him unconscious, blackens his skin
and burns away all his hair. But: "Time that comes will quick repair;
yet the pipe retains its share."
Fifth Trick: The Uncle
The boys collect bags full of May bugs, which they promptly deposit in
their Uncle Fritz's bed. Uncle is nearly asleep when he feels the bugs
walking on his nose. Horrified, he goes into a frenzy, killing them
with a shoe.
Sixth Trick: The Baker
The boys invade a bakery which they believe is closed. Attempting to
steal pretzels, they fall into a vat of dough. The baker returns,
catches the breaded pair, and bakes them. But they survive, and escape
by gnawing through their crusts.
Final Trick: The Farmer
Hiding out in the grain storage area of a farmer, Mecke, the boys slit
some grain sacks. Carrying away one of the sacks, farmer Mecke
immediately notices the problem. He puts the boys in the sack instead,
then takes it to the mill. The boys are ground to bits and devoured by
the miller’s ducks. Later, no one expresses regret. (The mill really
exists in Ebergötzen, Germany, and can be visited)
Max und Moritz was adapted into a ballet by
Richard Mohaupt and
Alfredo Bortuluzzi. In 1956
Norbert Schultze adapted it into a
straightforward children's film, Max und Moritz (1956), while
Thomas Frydetzki and Annette Stefan made a more loose, satirical
adaptation in 2005 named Max und Moritz Reloaded. The comic was
also adapted into two 1978 animated TV specials.
^ Ruby, Daniel (1998). Schema und Variation – Untersuchungen zum
Bildergeschichtenwerk Wilhelm Buschs (in German). Frankfurt am Main:
Europäische Hochschulschriften. p. 11.
^ "The German presidential elections in June 2010" (in German).
^ "Von Richthofen's Belongings..." theaerodrome.com. Retrieved
^ Richthofen, M. (1972). The red air fighter. Arno Press.
ISBN 9780405037849. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
^ "Wanpaku monogatari" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2010-08-02.
^ Derleth, August in Dirks, Rudolph: The Katzenjammer Kids, Dover
Publications, New York 1974
^ "8th history of Till Eulenspiegel" (in German). Retrieved
^ "32nd history of Till Eulenspiegel" (in German). Retrieved
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Max and Moritz.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Max und Moritz
Max und Moritz at
Project Gutenberg in German for a single work
Max und Moritz (in German)
Max & Maurice, a Juvenile History in Seven Tricks (German/English)
App for iPad iPhone iPod, told with animated pictures an