Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Apel, Johann August

(1771-1816) German lawyer, playwright and, later, librarian who became an authority on German Folktales, especially Ghost Stories. Working with Laun (real name Freidrich Schulze; 1770-1849), JAA produced five volumes of such tales, each called Gespensterbuch (anths 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814 and 1815; Laun alone may have produced further vols in 1816 and 1817), drawn as much from the oral as from the written tradition, like the contemporary work of the Grimm Brothers – though JAA and Laun concentrated more on Gothic and occult aspects. JAA's most popular contribution to the series was "Der Freischütz" (1811; trans as "The Fatal Marksman" 1824 UK; vt "The Freeshot"; vt "The Magic Balls"), a Pact with the Devil story which formed the basis of the Opera Der Freischütz (1821) by Carl Weber (1786-1826). Selections from the first two volumes were translated into French by J B B Eyriès as Fantasmagoriana ["Phantasmagoria"] (anth 1812 France); this was the book which (see Anthologies), read by Lord Byron and his house party, eventually inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818). It saw a UK translation as Tales of the Dead (anth 1813), but the rest of the series remains untranslated. Apart from "The Boarwolf" (1812; vt "The Demon's Victim"), an early Werewolf story which also involves a Faustian pact, none of JAA's fiction has been credited in translation, and much of his work is therefore regarded as "anon". JAA's seminal work had considerable impact on the development of Supernatural Fiction. [MA]

Johann August Apel


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.