[Daily article] October 29: Baron Munchausen

Baron Munchausen is a fictional nobleman created by German writer Rudolf
Erich Raspe in his 1785 book Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his
Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia. The character is loosely
based on a real baron, Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, Freiherr von
Münchhausen (1720–1797). Born in Bodenwerder, Electorate of
Brunswick-Lüneburg, the real-life Münchhausen fought for the Russian
Empire in the Russo-Turkish War of 1735–1739. After retiring in 1760,
he became a minor celebrity within German aristocratic circles for
telling outrageous tall tales based on his military career. After
hearing some of Münchhausen’s stories, Raspe adapted them anonymously
into literary form, first in German as magazine pieces, and then in
English. The fictional Baron’s exploits, narrated in the first person,
focus on his impossible achievements as a sportsman, soldier, and
traveller, for instance riding on a cannonball, fighting a forty-foot
crocodile, and travelling to the Moon. The real-life Münchhausen was
deeply upset at the development of a fictional character bearing his
name, and threatened legal proceedings against the book’s publisher.
Several concepts and medical conditions have been named after the
character, including Munchausen syndrome, the Münchhausen trilemma, and
Munchausen numbers.

Read more:

Today’s selected anniversaries:


English courtier and explorer Walter Raleigh was executed in
London after King James I reinstated a fifteen-year-old death sentence
against him.


Lt. William Broughton, a member of Captain George Vancouver’s
discovery expedition, observed a peak in what is now Oregon, US, and
named it Mount Hood after British admiral Samuel Hood.


Arab–Israeli War: As the Israel Defense Forces captured the
Palestinian Arab village of Safsaf, they massacred at least 52


British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opened the last
segment of the M25 motorway, one of Britain’s busiest motorways.


Galileo became the first spacecraft to visit an asteroid when
it made a flyby of 951 Gaspra.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

Basic, old-fashioned or traditional; specifically (journalism) shoe-
leather journalism or shoe-leather reporting: journalism involving
walking from place to place observing things and speaking to people,
rather than sitting indoors at a desk.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  One of my principles is, Thou shall not bully. The only answer is
to muscle the bully. I’m very combative that way.  
–Bill Mauldin

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