Bigger Than Life but Smaller Than Justice

I first read about the story of Albrecht Muth a couple years ago in this absorbing profile of the man then accused of murdering his much older wife, likely for the mundane purpose of acquiring booty. He has since been convicted in a not surprisingly colorful trial and will soon be sentenced. The lives of Muth and his wife, Viola Drath, were intertwined with Washington D.C. society, which was enchanted by his audacious self-presentation and willful weirdness. According to the profile referenced above, for example, Muth styled himself a “count” and ordered ornate stationery embossed with his made-up crest. There are many interesting accounts of this complex character and convoluted relationship available on line and they are worth pursuing as a study in how a talented and bold story teller can make a place for him on a foundation of half-truths and fantasies well delivered. It is also a study in the limits of self-delusion.


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