Max und Moritz


Max und Moritz: Eine Bubengeschichte in Sieben Streichen, by Wilhelm Busch (Meunchen: Braun und Schneider, c. 1928)

This comic cautionary tale about two young pranksters was written and illustrated by German poet and artist Wilhelm Busch in 1865. Max and Moritz terrorize their village with their mean-spirited tricks. They cause Widow Bolte’s chickens to strangle themselves to death and then steal the birds from the Widow’s stove. They fill the schoolmaster’s pipe with gunpowder, put bugs in their uncle’s bed, and saw the boards of a bridge so the tailor falls in the river and nearly drowns. Their final trick-- slitting open Farmer Mecke’s grain sacks-- proves to be their last. The farmer catches the boys and puts them in the sacks instead, then takes them to the mill where they are ground into duck food. The final stanza sums up the villagers reaction to the demise of Max and Moritz:

That entire place, in short,
Buzzed with joy at the report;
And they offered heartfelt thanks
For deliverance from pranks!