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Second copy located of a diatribe against prostitution, written by a friend of Karl May's.


The first chapters include heart-breaking stories about well-born girls being tricked into prostitution by malicious lovers, and young men lured into brothels only to be robbed by ruthless mobsters. The stories are bound together by sociological observations and warnings against prostitution and crime.


It further discusses newspapers ads promoting prostitution ("Schands-Inserate"), pleasure districts in Hamburg and other cities, as well as "Tingel-Tangel" clubs and "Tanzhäuser", which actually are just brothels in disguise, as the author points out. Ironically, this well-informed diatribe could also serve as a guide, warning the reader of dangerous pitfalls and pointing him to reliable locations to find prostitutes without getting robbed.


The work falls in the genre of the so-called colportage literature: literature cheaply produced for the masses, often associated with moral corruption, and distributed by itinerant book-peddling colporteurs.


In 1882 the Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel published on article on the genre, which mentions the present work. Apparently a Berlin bookdealer had published several adverts promoting it (and several others), adverts "die an widerlicher Reclame alles bisher Dagewesene weit hinter sich lassen, sodass es uns unmöglich ist, ausser den Titeln [...] Weiteres hierüber mitzuteilen", as the reviewer noted.


And a few years later, in 1885, the book was apparently even banned, and authorities seized the stock of Leipzig bookdealer Ludwig Albert Unflad, which perhaps suggest that he actually was the publisher of the work, hiding behind the rather vague "Verl. der Verlagsanstalt".


Printed on brittle paper, colportage literature wasn't meant to last. It's no wonder, then, that the genre survived poorly. Indeed, "Kolportageromane sind in deutschen Bibliotheken und Archiven weder als Artefakte noch als Begriff existent", as Kosch and Nagl observed in 1993.


The author, Friedrich Ferdinand Kiessling (1835-1890/91), was a novelist, feuilletonist, playwright and editor. He wrote a number of colportage novels, often under pseudonyms, of which many don't seem to survive. He was educated in England and America and lived in Leipzig from 1871 to 1876, in which year he settled in Dresden. Dresden was home to many publishers specializing in the publication of colportage novels. Indeed, in the last quarter of the 19th century the city developed into the centre of the colportage trade.


Interestingly, in Dresden Kiessling moved in the circles of Karl May, who in the 1880's wrote five large colportage novels himself. "Kießling gehört zu jenem bislang noch weitgehend unerforschten Kreis von Dresdener Schriftstellern [...], mit denen Karl May im ersten Jahrzehnt seines Schriftstellertums Kontakt hatte", as Andreas Graf noted.

Rare survival: a diatribe against prostitution, by a friend of Karl May's

€ 875,00Price
  • Ferdinand von Döbeln [ps. of Friedrich Ferdinand Kießling]

    Die Lasterhöhlen der Prostitution und ihre Genossen.

    Leipzig, Verl. der Verlagsanstalt, [before 1882].

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