Dr. Otto Essig is a ridiculous figure who would appear to play a minor role in The Erl-King. He is a benighted scientist (an expert of sorts concerning deer antlers), an inept, albeit assiduous sycophant, and if wasted bullets count for anything, a pathetic marksman. Yet, and this 'yet' will eventually take us to the heart of the function of history in Tournier's writing, an errant round fired by Essig manages to strike and kill Candelabre, the most impressive buck in a herd carefully selected and developed for the delight of Hermann Goring. How does Dr. Essig manage to accomplish such a feat? In truth, he does not. His success is due to chance, to stupid, blind

luck which, for a moment at least, makes a champion out of a fool. This scene stands practically at the midpoint in the novel, bracketed between Abel Tiffauges's incessant musings on his destiny, and the equally suspect examples of Nazi racial theorizing.