Prince Ishmael

Marianne Hauser, Author Sun & Moon $11.95 (316p) ISBN 978-1-55713-039-6
In 1828, an adolescent stranger appeared at the gates of Nuremberg; this wolf child or Ishmael could neither talk nor walk properly and claimed to have lived in a dark hole in the ground. The hole was never found, nor was it ever revealed why he had been hidden since infancy, who his enemies were and who his parents might be. Known as Caspar Hauser, he was a myth in his own time: for children, ``I was their bedtime story, along with the Frog Prince. . . . I was themselves.stet For there wasn't a child, I think, who had not lived through my old past, whenever mother had slipped away with her candle to leave him trapped in that black hole of night.'' Celebrated and revered, jailed and finally murdered, was Caspar Hauser a fake, royalty, scapegoat or an angel sent to test mankind, ``to serve as a mirror unto all hearts''? Although the prose is limpid and narrated by Caspar in the first person, the enigma remains frustratingly inscrutable. Caspar's picaresque encounters pierce human foibles and self-delusion, but the adventures flatten under lengthy exposition and Caspar's ingenuous self-infatuation. A spare style would have better served this long-out-of-print historical fairy tale by the author of Dark Dominion . (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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