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Introduction Mademoiselle de Scudery The Sandman The Artushof Councillor Krespel The Entail Doge and Dogaressa The Mines at Falun The Choosing of the Bride Further Reading The first time I read Hoffman s short stories was in art school, where our main professor s most obsessive obsession was German Expressionism which I love , a natural extension of German Romanticism which I also love They were a total revelation, especially because than, say, English language Gothic writing a la Edgard Allan Poe, all which I also love we were all blown away by the depth of psychological insight Sometimes it was almost uncanny, as if Hoffman s writing leaned literally close the nerve Billed as fantasy and horror , these stories actually are in line with themselves, crossing over into early 20th Century surrealism It s easy to see how he influenced so many luminaries of other artistic forms such as ballet creators or Hitchcock.Now, rereading and continuing to read each and every one of his short stories and IN Germany I notice things I missed 20 years ago Like the similarities with, for example, Freud and even Kant And the intense connection to that infamous and always present German Angst The Sandman is, of course, a masterpiece, but I think my favorite is Doge and Dogaressa These stories have bite and need to be read than once, which I plan to do But I think I will try next one of his novels, see how he blends his sarcastic viewpoint in a long form. E T A Hoffmann, where have you been all my life I can t quite believe I haven t read this author before he s so much part of all kinds of literary traditions I m interested in, from the birth of historical fiction he s contemporary with Scott to the whole fantastic proto psychoanalytic vein of nineteenth century fiction, from Mary Shelley through Poe to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray I was quite disappointed when I finished to return to my own boring life, where I never seem to encounter mysterious strangers who may or may not have lived two hundred years ago, and who mutate into horrific fox masks in the middle of a conversation Maybe I should take drugs I read the selection of the stories in the Penguin Classics edition, of which later Mademoiselle de Scud ry , The Sandman The Artushof Councillor Krespel The Entail Doge and Dogaressa The Mines at Falun The Choosing of the Bride All contain an element of the supernatural or as Freud noted in the case of The Sandman , the uncanny , and most feature transactions across time hauntings, revisitations, real or apparent reincarnations There s a lot of falling instantly and indelibly in love generally, though not always, with tragic outcomes and quite a lot about the power of art and music, Hoffmann s other two arts So far, so Romantic Gothic yet these features are combined in Hoffmann with an irony and a sense of the absurd that I found much unexpected The combination is very distinctive Although I enjoyed the whole collection, two stories stood out for me The Sandman and Mademoiselle de Scud ry I can t think I ve ever read a better short story than The Sandman it s a complete tour de force of ambiguity, and the living definition of a classic in Calvino s brilliant formula, a book that has never exhausted what it has to say I skimmed through some of the secondary literature after finishing it and wasn t at all surprised that it has provoked wildly differing interpretations It starts mildly, then drags you very rapidly into a sinister vortex, in which there seems no way of establishing what it really going on And it s extraordinarily conceptually dense, in the manner of the best philosophical fables Mlle de Scud ry is a very different beast much lighter, despite a few hocus pocus elements and murders than you can count It s one of the oddest ideas for a story I have ever come across the romance author Madeleine de Scud ry, in her seventies, as a kind of seventeenth century Miss Marple, with a bit part appearance from Louis XIV, set in the aftermath of the real life Affair of the Poisons when several dozen people were executed as poisoners alchemists witches, etc a real case of life emulating fiction, of a fairly preposterous variety Interestingly, I read that the German literary critical tradition sees this story reasonably enough as the earliest detective fiction, whereas the English language tradition tends to trace the genre back only to Poe, writing around twenty years later I found an interesting article online Anita McChesney, The Female Poetics of Crime in E.T.A Hoffmann s Mademoiselle Scuderi , Women in German Yearbook, 24 2008 arguing that the English language genealogy of detective fiction had the effect of over emphasizing logic as the key trait of the detective, whereas Hoffmann s tale foregrounds female encoded qualities such as intuition, compassion, and imagination One could equally note that those qualities are the qualities of the Romantic author, male or female, along with eloquence and a mastery of melodrama and affect qualities which Mlle de Scud ry exploits brilliantly at a key point in the story I saw her as an authorial figure A word of advice to anyone thinking of buying the Penguin Classics version of these tales don t It dates from 1982, but the introduction could easily have been written in 1882, and it s criminally thin it contains no critical analysis or discussion of context, but is simply a brief account of the author s life There are no notes And the translator, a certain R.J Hollingdale, admits to having done some editorializing during translation to improve the rhythms of the original, which he thinks a little slow for the modern English reader Extraordinary For a series that presents itself as scholarly and generally is this really lets the side down. This is not exactly the edition I read Mine is a hardcover and was published in 1943 It starts with an introductory essay by Arthur Ransome, followed by a prologue by the illustrator, Hugo Steiner Prag Various people translated the different stories The tales in my edition include 1 The Sandman2 The Mindes of Falun3 Councillor Krespel4 Don Juan5 The Mystery of the Deserted House6 The Vow7 Mademoiselle de Scudery8 The Entail9 The Uncanny Guest10 Gambler s Luckand finally notes on each story.Many of us are familiar with the stories of Hoffmann because so much classical music, and especially ballets have been based on his stories They are fantastical, dealing always with beautiful women, pure and good, and men, sometimes good, sometimes evil, but always smitten by the beautiful women.Sometimes the evil men become good for the sake of the woman Many of the tales are supernatural and all of them have some sort of moral There is a certain amount of suspense in each as the reader wonders how the story is going to develop and resolve These stories were also written in a bygone time Today we would find the style quaint and a bit melodramatic, but that does not mean they cannot hold our interest.If you are interested in the original stories that so much music was inspired by, it would behoove you to read Hoffmann s stories. [ Download Pdf ] ♴ Märchen ⚕ This Selection Of Hoffmann S Finest Short Stories Vividly Demonstrates His Intense Imagination And Preoccupation With The Supernatural, Placing Him At The Forefront Of Both Surrealism And The Modern Horror Genre Suspense Dominates Tales Such As Mademoiselle De Scudery , In Which An Apprentice Goldsmith And A Female Novelist Find Themselves Caught Up In A Series Of Jewel Thefts And Murders In The Sinister Sandman , A Young Man S Sanity Is Tormented By Fears About A Mysterious Chemist, While In The Choosing Of A Bride A Greedy Father Preys On The Weaknesses Of His Daughter S Suitors Master Of The Bizarre, Hoffman Creates A Sinister And Unsettling World Combining Love And Madness, Black Humour And Bewildering Illusion
Having just read Jackson sThe Lottery , her skill at unsettling the reader made me want to re visit Hoffmann s tales, especially two of them I remember being surprised by these short stories, especially the supernatural element, which I wasn t expecting The whole collection in fact is excellent but I ll concentrate only on the two that really impressed meThe Sandmanis a mythical figure that keeps appearing in various iterations, from songs to Gaiman s cult comics series, and when I found that Hoffmann had written the original tale, I was intrigued It is made up of three letters, and an unknown narrator who provides the rest of the story to its denouement, as well as background info Nathaniel struggles from post traumatic stress caused by an episode with the sandman in his youth The facts allow various interpretations, the ambiguity making the reader able to choose whether to believe or not in Nathaniel s experience Was is reality or hallucination Is he paranoiac or under real threat Interestingly, while Nathaniel believes there is a dark power controlling him, his love interest, Clara, uses logic against stereotype She wisely sees all this as a psychological problem, making her the embodiment of the Enlightenment perspective while Nathaniel represents the Romantics This is a weird, unsettling, but great tale It starts with the folklore character of the sandman, who is said to throw sand in the eyes of children to help them fall asleep It follows on with horror, the inconstancy of love, and even an automaton faking a real person, commenting on what women were supposed to be social expectations so little in fact that a robot could be the perfect woman Throughout the narration, Eyes are a very important element, in the characters, automaton, everywhere Moreover, all is seen through Nathaniel s eyes, which may or may not be seeing reality This is what lead Freud to interpret it in is famous 1919 essay The UncannyMademoiselle de Scuderycouldn t be different This novella is often referred as the first instance of a detective story, one that could have influenced Edgar Allan Poe in his writing ofMurder in rue MorgueThe story is set in Paris in the 1860s during the famous Affaires des Poisons Mademoisselle de Scudery is about seventy years old and part of the court, although not rich She is allowed to write as an author but not in ownership of any riches In this way, through her social position and age, she seems to be able to have a certain freedom Throughout the tale, she mostly listens, not investigate, the various versions of the facts from different protagonists This differs from the usual detective rules 1 clues that seem to indicate one thing when in fact they mean something else 2 a suspect of a murder who turns out not to be the culprit 3 unlikely investigator who deducts what is going on This story ticks the first two points but not the last one Additionally, there really was a Miss de Scudery who lived in the French court, wrote under the nom de plum Sapho and was a kind of pre Bluestoking, meaning that Hoffmann checked his facts Another interesting point is how the author seemed to be obsessed by dissociation, characters leading double lives or having dual personalities, and which appear in many of his stories view spoiler for instance the character of Cadillac, one side the famous jeweller, the other the serial killer It also gave name to the Cadillac Syndrome or the pathological difficulty or inability of an artist to separate himself from his work hide spoiler The rather long introduction to this book provides useful biographical information Hoffman was a German Romantic, having lived from 1776 1822 , insights into Hoffman s psychology, and specific comments about the tales contained in this volume There are seven of Hoffman s stories contained herein Ritter Gluck has a flavor of magical realism it is certainly a fantasy with a febrile quality The Golden Pot is dreamlike and phantasmagoric the distinctions between reality and fantasy are blurred, leading the reader through labyrinthine images that shift and slide, inviting multiple interpretations People and objects metamorphose, changing continually as in dreams, creating a kaleidoscopic mood and atmosphere, reminiscent of the writings of Kafka There are also elements of fable contained here typical challenges and dilemmas are set up, the reader knowing that the hero will fall into traps from which he must be extricated The margin between everyday life and dream world becomes increasingly blurred, and the reader sometimes has difficulty distinguishing one from another The tale culminates with a vision of Atlantis, an Edenic setting wherein nature is equated with poetry Marvelous The Sandman is a story in which the sudden shift in perspective from the writer of the opening letters to that of a different narrator is disconcerting Nathanael is besotted with the automaton Olympia, who is obviously not human at all, someone who is merely a mirror for whatever Nathanael chooses to project on her he seems unable to understand or accept Klara, who is fully aware, loving, and skeptical Eventually, haunted and pursued by the murderer of his father, Nathanael descends into madness and suicide It is an odd and griping story Councillor Krespel is less of a fantasy than a fairytale like story of fatal emotions, of the consequences of excessive desires and selfishness The Mines of Falun is a tale of bewitchment and tragedy, of insatiable longing and inevitable doom Mademoiselle de Scuderi is an enigma Is this a very early detective story If so, it certainly has an unusual number of sequential subplots But who exactly is the detective Desgrais Mademoisel le de Scuderi What a convoluted plot Halfway through the tale, I could not even recall some of the early subplots, many of which seemed unrelated to the events now being related but in the end, all was convincing resolved, the story reminding me of those by Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle Very nice, indeed The Doubles is a clever extended variation on the perennially fascinating doppelg nger theme.The Tales are unique and delightful, imaginative and well written, a notable addition to the genre of fantasy literature. Magic, coincidence, and serial killers, oh my The author of The Nutcracker has some classic Gothic tales to tell.An excellent collection. Reviewing the stories as I go Mademoiselle de Scudery Ah, I have to say that this story may have turned me off from reading Hoffmann if I weren t so committed The story is okay Only okay at best It had moments that gave me a little flutter of anticipation, but then I was let down Not a good first story for a collection, but the second story, The Sandman, is already rocking my brain.The Sandman This story was pretty much perfect Hoffmann was most certainly of the Romantic Era, as evidenced by some of the obnoxious reactions of the characters But the story is freak tastic, and the words lov ely occe is sufficiently disturbing to me And, for those of you keeping track, there s even a duel He ran to Nathaniel, in harsh words he reporached him for his senseless behavior towards his beloved sister, and Nathaniel, provoked, replied in kind Lothario called Nathaniel a crazy, fantastical coxcomb Nathaniel retaliated by calling Lothario a wretched, commonplace fellow A duel was unavoidable in accordance with the academic custom there obtaining, they resolved to meet one another the following morning behind the garden with sharpened foils.Who knew that calling someone a commonplace fellow could be fightin words I ve called some people worse I guess I should be happy to be alive and unblemished from any sharpened foils.And I totally failed at updating every time I finished a story Suck it.The whole thing is okay, but some stories are definitely better than others The Sandman is my favorite, but The Entail and The Mines at Falun were fun as well The last story, The Choosing of the Bride, was pretty great too, with lots of references to The Merchant of Venice And, in this last story, there s a somewhat premonition to the Kindle Or so I like to say view spoiler You now see , the goldsmith said, that through the book you found in the casket you have acquired the amplest, completest library anyone has ever possessed, and one, over, that you can carry about with you constantly For if you have this remarkable book in your pocket, whenever you take it out it will become whatever work you desire to read hide spoiler Anyone who has seen the opera Tales of Hoffman or the ballets Coppelia and Nutcracker must be aware of the enormous influence that ETA Hoffman had on European culture throughout most of the nineteenth century Read this book then to enjoy first hand the writings that inspired so much that was to come.Read this review to find out about the enormous role that E.T.A Hoffman played in the emancipation of Europe s Jews From Norman Davies Europe A History, p 169 Prior to the Napoleonic wars must Jews lived in Russia or Poland where they were governed by their own courts and paid their taxes to their Rabbis who then remitted the payments to the Tsarist or Polish authorities Under this system, the Jews did not have names written in Latin Characters When Napoleon conquered Eastern Europe he decided to emancipate the Jews This meant a they became citizens b for the first time ever they acquired the privilege to do military service and c they received names in Latin characters From 1795 to 1806, the Jewish community of Warsaw found itself at the mercy of E.T.A Hoffmann, then chief administrator of the city, who handed out surnames according to his fancy The lucky ones came away with Apfelbaum, Himmelfarb, or Vogelsang the less fortunate with Fischbein, Hosenduft, or Katzenellenbogen.Other notorious names from the Hoffman repertory include Gurkensalat, Goldfinger and Seltsamliebe.