By the 19th century, his tales had undergone expansions and transformations by many notable authors and had been translated into numerous languages, totaling over 100 various editions. Baron Munchhausen's adventures have also been published in Russia, where they are quite commonly known, especially the versions adapted for children. It is not clear how much of the story material derives from the Baron himself; however, it is known that the majority of the stories are based on folktales that have been in circulation for many centuries before Münchhausen's birth.
I was fascinated this week by the mention of Munchausen Syndrome on Gyan Ban's blog. It is an attention seeking personality disorder, named after the Baron Munchausen. A predominantly female disorder, in which an emotionally immature person with narcissistic tendencies, low self esteem and a fragile ego has an overwhelming need to be the center of attention. This is achieved by capitalizing on, exploiting, exaggerating or feigning illness, injury, or personal misfortune. The opportunities for attention can be increased by feigning victimhood through alleged victimisation, isolation, or exclusion. The Munchausen person often depicts another, usually a family member, as a victimiser or persecutor, and herself as the victim. Know someone like this? Let the mental health specialists handle it.
Among the many film adaptations, my personal fave is Terry Gilliam's wild and quirky The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1988. The film stars John Neville as the Baron and nine year old Sarah Polley as Sally Salt. Supporting the Baron as his faithful crew were Eric Idle, Charles McKeown, Winston Dennis and Jack Purvis. The film also featured Uma Thurman, Oliver Reed, Jonathan Pryce, Sting and Robin Williams, credited as Ray D. Tutto. (Why? I have no idea.) Here's two of my favorite scenes from the movie, the first is Uma Thurman as Venus, and the second is John Neville as the Baron, trying to have a deathbed scene, which is so hilariously apropos, considering the syndrome named after him. I don't usually post two video clips, but they're both shorties, so take a peek.