Sonntag, 29. November 2009

Nsho-Chi—A Gentle Amazon

(Text: Walter-Joerg Langbein
English translation by Marlies Bugmann)

Karl May’s Wild West seems to be dominated by ‘real men’. Winnetou and his blood brother, Old Shatterhand, are powerful men—strong, intelligent and good. Does Karl May use outmoded clichés that no longer fit into our times?

Nsho-Chi seems to belong into an antiquated world view where men fight heroic battles and women have the sole purpose of being beautiful. Karl May describes Winnetou’s young sister as follows (1): “She was beautiful, very beautiful, indeed. Had she been dressed European style she would have been admired in any European fashion salon…The only adornment consisted of her long, magnificent hair that reached below her hips in two thick, blue-black plaits.”

Of course, beautiful Nsho-Chi caringly nurses severely wounded Old Shatterhand back to health. And she falls in love with Winnetou’s courageous blood brother. However, ‘Beautiful Day’ also discusses the difference between the Christian women of western civilization and the Indian ‘squaws’ of the Wild West with Old Shatterhand. The white adventurer represents the western European position, but Karl May places the better arguments into Nsho-Chi’s mouth. She refuses to accept superiority in either the women or the scientists of the ‘civilized’ world. On closer inspection…the oh-so-cultivated people of the old world are the real ‘savages’.

Nsho-Chi is not only very attractive, but also very intelligent. She is self-confident and moves within the world of men as their equal.

Michael Pezel’s remark in his foreword to Marie Versini’s autobiography Ich war Winnetous Schwester (I Was Winnetou’s Sister) is most appropriate (2): “In the costume of an Indian fairytale princess, Marie Versini plays a young woman who, although apparently shy, pursues her goal with determination. She is very energetic, rides better than a man…even before the invention of the term ‘emancipation’, she gains entry where only men have a say…”

Karl May didn’t create a sociological study of the woman’s place in society. He created novels that allowed millions of people to dream. His Nsho-Chi has touched the hearts of his readers for generations. And Marie Versini is the perfect embodiment of that dream fairy who has both feet firmly on the ground. Nsho-Chi is the ideal, perfect Amazon: intelligent, self-confident but not overbearing, feminine yet strong, romantic as well as realistic. Nsho-Chi is soft and hard at the same time. All human beings have something of Nsho-Chi inside of them, one only has to discover it…and admit it! Yet, in an increasingly colder society, the human aspects of Nsho-Chi are much too frequently overlooked. If there were more people like Winnetou’s proud sister, our culture could only benefit. Her selflessness would counteract the frigidity of egotism. To be as soft as Nsho-Chi, having her strength is a prerequisite.

Marie Versini’s Hompepage ist without any doubt worthwhile a visit:

1) Karl May: »Winnetou I/ Reiseerzählung«, Historisch-Kritische Ausgabe für die Karl-May-Gedächtnisstiftung«, herausgegeben von Hermann Wiedenroth und Hans Wollschläger, Abteilung IV, Band 12, Zürich 1990, S. 268 (Karl May: Winnetou I / Travel Fiction, Historically Critical Edition for the Karl May Memorial Trust, published by Hermann Wiedenroth and Hans Wollschläger, Section IV, Volume 12, Zürich, 1990, page 268)

2) Versini, Marie: »Ich war Winnetous Schwester / Bilder und Geschichten einer Karriere«, Karl-May-Verlag, Bamberg und Radebeul, 2003, S.6 (Versini, Marie: I Was Winnetou’s Sister / Images And Stories Of A Career, Karl May publishers, Bamberg and Radebeul, 2003, page 6).
Translation: Marlies Bugmann, Tasmania, 2009

Please visit Marlies Bugmann here:
Australian Friends of Karl May

The picture, showing Marie Versini in her most famous role as Nsho-Chi (together with Lex Barker) was given to us with friendly permission of Mr. Elmar Elbs. Thank you very much!

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