Kaspar Hauser  

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Kaspar Hauser or Casparus Hauser (April 30, 1812December 17, 1833) was a mysterious foundling in 19th century Germany with suspected ties to the royal house of Baden.


Cultural references

Kaspar Hauser fits into the contemporary European image of the "wolf child" (despite the fact that he almost certainly was not one), and he became possibly the best-known example of the genre. As a result, his story inspired numerous works.


Kaspar Hauser inspired the French poet Paul Verlaine to write the poem "Gaspard Hauser chante", published in his book Sagesse (1880). Kaspar Hauser is also referred to in Herman Melville's unfinished novella Billy Budd (begun in 1886), as well as in his novels, both Pierre; or, The Ambiguities and The Confidence-Man. He is also referenced in the Hans Christian Andersen story "Beauty of Form and Beauty of Mind" or "Beautiful".

Perhaps the most influential fictional treatment of Kasper Hauser was Jakob Wassermann's 1908 novel Caspar Hauser oder Die Trägheit des Herzens ("Caspar Hauser or the Inertia of the Heart"), which was largely responsible for its popularization in Germany.

In the mid-20th century, Kaspar Hauser was referred to in several works of science fiction or fantasy literature: Eric Frank Russell, in his 1943 novel Sinister Barrier, described Kaspar Hauser as a person who originated from a non-human laboratory. Fredric Brown, in his 1949 short story Come and Go Mad, offered another theory about "Casper Hauser". Henry Kuttner, in his 1954 "The Portal in the Picture", where he suggests Hauser is from Malesco – a parallel world where science is treated as a religion and its secrets are hidden from the ordinary citizen. Robert A. Heinlein, in his 1963 Glory Road, referred to "Kaspar Hausers" as an analogue to persons popping in and out of metaphysical planes. Harlan Ellison, in his 1967 story "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World", suggested that Hauser had been plucked out of time and later murdered by a female sadist named Juliette.

In 1963, Marianne Hauser gave a fictional account of Kaspar Hauser's life in her novel Prince Ishmael.

In 1967, the Austrian playwright Peter Handke published his play Kaspar.

Paul Auster, in his 1985 novel City of Glass, compares the situation of one of its character to Kaspar Hauser.

In 1994 the English poet David Constantine explored the story and its personae in Caspar Hauser: A Poem in Nine Cantos.

Kaspar Hauser is also referred to in Katharine Neville's novel The Magic Circle (1998), in Steven Millhauser's short story Kaspar Hauser Speaks (published in The Knife Thrower and Other Stories, 1998), Jeffrey Eugenides's novel Middlesex (2002), Maggie Nelson's poem "Kaspar Hauser" (2003, itself a probable reference to the Herzog film), and Lucie Brock-Broido's poem "Self-Portrait as Kaspar Hauser" (published in Trouble in Mind, 2004). Canadian artist Diane Obomsawin tells the story of Kaspar Hauser in her 2007 graphic novel Kaspar.

Kaspar Hauser serves as the namesake and inspiration for a character in Dan Abnett's novel Prospero Burns, in which the protagonist Kasper Hawser shares a similar mysterious origin and childhood as attributed to Hauser, including his only toy being a wooden horse.

Robert Heinlein in Glory Road (1968) refers to leakages from other worlds to earth as Kaspar Hausers - people appearing unannounced and inexplicably.

Film and television

In 1974, the German filmmaker Werner Herzog made Hauser's story into the film, Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle ("Every Man for Himself and God Against All"). In English, the film was either known by that translation, or by the title The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

In 1993, the German-Austrian co-production Kaspar Hauser – Verbrechen am Seelenleben eines Menschen ("Kaspar Hauser – Crimes against a man's soul"), directed by Peter Sehr, espoused the "Prince of Baden" theory.

In the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451, the protagonist Guy Montag discreetly puts a copy of a book entitled Gaspard Hauser into his bag before the rest of the books in that residence are torched.

In the TV series Smallville, in the episode "Stray" (2002) Clark Kent finds a boy who does not remember who he was or where he came from, except his name. Chloe refers to the boy as a "modern-day Kasper Hauser".

In the Japanese horror movie Marebito (2004), the protagonist Masuoka refers to a girl he found chained up underground as his "little Kaspar Hauser".


Kaspar Hauser's story has inspired numerous musical references. There have been at least two operas named Kasper Hauser, a 2007 work by American composer Elizabeth Swados and a 2010 work by British composer Rory Boyle.

Subterranea, a 1997 concept album by British progressive rock band IQ (1997), was loosely inspired by Hauser's story. Italian artists Reinhold Giovanett and Josef Oberhollenzer put out a CD titled Kaspar Hauser in 1999.

Numerous bands and musicians have released songs titled "Kaspar Hauser", including the German band Dschinghis Khan, the Detroit band Trial, and the Sun City Girls. Colonian-dialect rock band BAP and German singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey have released songs called "Kaspar". French singer-songwriter Georges Moustaki put out a song titled "Gaspard", based on Paul Verlaine's poem. Suzanne Vega included "Wooden Horse (Caspar Hauser's Song)" on her 1987 album Solitude Standing.

Kaspar Hauser was taken as the name of an alternative rock band based in Amherst, Massachusetts in the early 1980s, as well as an experimental musician from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England. Hauser is the name of an existing alternative rock band from the North of Ireland


Anthroposophists have written several books on Kaspar Hauser. One in particular, a detailed work by Peter Tradowsky, addresses the mysteries surrounding Kaspar Hauser's life from the anthroposophical point of view. His analysis delves into the occult significance of the individuality he sees as incarnated in Kaspar Hauser. In 1996 Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson wrote Lost Prince: The Unsolved Mystery of Kaspar Hauser (1996).

There was also a January 1861 Atlantic Monthly article which included an unsigned article on Caspar Hauser. This was circulated among the American intellectual establishment of the time. It provides a sense of perspective on many of the issues firing the debate about "Who was Kaspar Hauser?" which continues to this day.

Medical writers have referred to Psychosocial short stature as the eponymous Kaspar Hauser syndrome. In modern times this custom of naming diseases after persons is falling out of favor and so such names are now more a curiosity than a diagnostic nomenclature.

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