A certain eighteenth-century German noble ventured abroad for military service and returned with a series of amusingly outrageous stories. Baron Munchausen's astounding feats included riding cannonballs, traveling to the Moon, and pulling himself out of a bog by his own hair. Listeners delighted in hearing about these unlikely adventures, and in 1785, the stories were collected and published as Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia.
By the nineteenth century, the tales had undergone expansions and transformations by several notable authors and had been translated into many languages.
A figure as colorful as the Baron naturally appeals to the artistic imagination, and he has been depicted in numerous works of art. His definitive visual image, however, belongs to Gustave Doré. Famed for his engravings of scenes from the Bible, the Divine Comedy, Don Quixote,
and other literary classics, Doré created theatrical illustrations of the Baron's escapades that perfectly re-create the stories' picaresque humor.
Republication of the London, 1865 edition.