Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pan-Appan (1865-?) Part 2: Some Answers

Pseudonym of Hermann Plahn
Writer, Chemist
Born March 2, 1865, Schweidnitz, Silesia, Prussia (now Świdnica, Poland)
Died Unknown

Herman Plahn was born on March 2, 1865, in Schweidnitz, in the province of Silesia, but as a child moved to Berlin. Plahn's mother died in or about 1871. While on a trip to Italy in 1874, Plahn's father, a bookseller, was killed, perhaps in an accident. The orphaned boy went to live with his grandparents in Potsdam, where he attended high school. Plahn's schooling was interrupted with the death of his grandparents in 1883. Like his father before him, he worked in the book trade, then as an editor until his inheritance or a grant from the state allowed him to resume his studies in 1887. Plahn went to Leipzig in 1888 to study literature, and to Berlin in 1889, where he studied natural sciences. From 1892 to 1903, Plahn worked as a chemist in various factories in Germany and Rumania. Hermann Plahn was the author of two plays and a collection of stories:
  • Carthalo, historisches Drama (Carthalo, A Historical Drama, Appelhans and Pfenningstorff, 1892)
  • Die Wette, Lustspiel, (The Bet, A Comedy, 1892)
  • Seltsame Geschichten: Grotesken und Phantasmagorien dem Reiche der überirdischen Welt (Weird Tales: Grotesques and Phantasmagorias from the Realm of the Supernatural, Erfurt/Leipzig: H. Bartholomäus, 1910 and/or 1927)

Plahn used the pseudonyms Appiani and Pan-Appan in his works. The American teacher and linguist Roy Temple House translated Plahn's story, "On a Train with a Madman," for Weird Tales. Credited to Pan-Appan, the story was reprinted in "The Unique Magazine" in July 1935. I don't know the origin of Plahn's pseudonym, but we should keep in mind that Plahn's father was killed on a trip to Italy. The name may refer to the Appian Way or some other Italian place name. (1)

My source for the information above is Volume 5, page 297, of Lexikon der deutschen Dichter und Prosaisten vom Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts bis zur Gegenwart by Franz Brümmer (Lexicon of German Poets and Prose Writers from the Early 19th Century to the Present, 8 volumes, Leipzig 1913). (I was able to translate the German broken typeface to modern type, then into English using Google Translate.) At the time that book was published, Herman Plahn would have been forty-eight years old and was apparently still living. I don't know whether he wrote more after 1913, nor where and when he died.

Pan-Appan's Story in Weird Tales
"On a Train with a Madman" translated by Roy Temple House (July 1935)

Further Reading
Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon, edited by Wilhelm Kosch (Stuttgart 1947-1958), also has a biographical entry on Hermann Plahn. I hope a German reader can find that source and either send it to me or translate it for us.

(1) My source for Italian translation tells me that appiani also means "of the plains." Piani and plains are cognates; Plahn looks like it could also be a cognate, but I don't believe that it is. In any case, Plahn's use of the pseudonym Appiani could have been a play on words. 

Seltsame Geschichten: Grotesken und Phantasmagorien dem Reiche der überirdischen Welt (Weird Tales: Grotesques and Phantasmagorias from the Realm of the Supernatural), by Hermann Plahn, alias Pan-Appan, with a cover design by Joachim Claude.
Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

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