- Nachtstücke by Hoffmann Ernst Theodor Amadeus - AbeBooks
- E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
- E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
- E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
Nachtstücke by Hoffmann Ernst Theodor Amadeus - AbeBooks
He is familiar with the management of scene painting and costuming, knows the entire range of theater activity, speaks French and Italian in addition to German, and is not only culturally but also literarily trained. He would also be able to take charge successfully of theater production. Further contact with him will easily lead to proof of the talents claimed, and in order to establish such, please communicate by postage-free letter with Referendary Hoffmann in Berlin, Friedrichsstrasse No. The talents were justly claimed, though the experience was slightly exaggerated.
Hoffmann's musical publications up to included two symphonies, three overtures, two quintets, six sonatas, two Masses, several motets, and a quantity of smaller vocal works. Of the three replies to his advertisement he chose the post in the south-German city of Bamberg. When he arrived there, with Misha, on September 7, , he was five months short of age thirty-three and his essential life had not yet begun. Just before that date or soon after it, however, and amid unknown circumstances, he wrote his first story, The Chevalier Gluck, and despite its ready acceptance by the publisher Rochlitz, he seems to have entertained no thought of a serious literary career.
Musical compositions in all forms, including operas, poured from his pen during the five Bamberg years, , while the first few "Tales of Hoffmann" materialized very slowly. Meanwhile he worked hard at the theater, directing plays, painting scenery, providing incidental music, conducting the orchestra, and to eke out his wretched salary he gave music lessons on the side. The gathering momentum for story writing was to come from personal experiences, particularly from his involvement with his voice pupil, Julia Marc.
At the center of the tragicomedy cast was Julia herself, thirteen years old at the beginning, sixteen at her marriage, and seventeen when Hoffmann last saw her. She was lovely, precocious, gifted with an ethereal soprano voice, and susceptible to the exaltation of music. The impecunious musician worshiped first the voice, then its owner. Her father was nowhere in evidence, but her redoubtable mother was single-mindedly concerned with making a wealthy match for her daughter.
Friends of Hoffmann and figures from the tiny Bamberg court were the other participators in the tragicomedy. Faithful, jealous, neglected Misha stayed chiefly at home. When she pried into his diary and exploded over the phrase "spiritual adultery," the spiritual adulterer made crucial entries in German but used the Greek alphabet or else attributed his thoughts and feelings to a fictional personage named Johannes Kreisler.
In this manner were gradually created the fifteen short sketches known as the Kreisleriana. Eventually there arrived on the scene young Mr. On September 6, , the brutal denouement came. Friends accompanied the engaged couple to a rural inn for celebration. A table was overturned and over the slobbering but still conscious Mr. The party had to be called off. Dead misery followed. Next morning an apology was sent to Frau Konsulin Marc, to which came the reply, "Something has come over Julia that makes it impossible for her to continue her lessons.
Departure from Bamberg was ostensibly taken for the sake of a new position as conductor-director of Joseph Seconda's opera company and orchestra, which performed in both Dresden and Leipzig. Actually it was a flight from unbearable circumstances. Before leaving, however, Hoffmann signed a contract with his friend Kunz, who was also his creditor and confidant, whereby Kunz would arrange for publication of Hoffmann's future literary works.
Individually published pieces had so far met with success, Kunz's faith was limitless, and Hoffmann himself had ideas for tales which were yet to be written but which he felt sure were valid, both financially and artistically. Thus at age thirty-seven, his true career was about to begin. Neither Mr. Joseph Seconda nor his opera company was in Dresden when the Hoffmanns arrived there, but Napoleon was, and the unemployed musician witnessed a battle before moving on to Leipzig.
Hardly were rehearsals under way than the tides of war brought Napoleonic armies near Leipzig and forced the Hoffmanns to return to Dresden. No sooner in Dresden than the Russians surrounded that city, while the Emperor of the French steadily retreated westward.
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Through months of siege, short rations, and public clamor, the unemployed musician worked away at his new opera Undine and at stories for a future collection of tales to be published by Kunz. Though a Prussian by nationality, Hoffmann felt himself a wholly disinterested spectator of European events. Through the adventures and misadventures of , Hoffmann continued writing.
On the very day when the last item was completed, the full-length novel, The Devil's Elixirs, was begun. Financial existence meanwhile was managed by odd jobs, musical articles for newspapers, political cartoons commissioned by a publishing house, a hastily composed symphony published anonymously because of its shabbiness.
In July, Hippel visited Hoffmann, who was then back in Leipzig. The Prussian government was now reestablished, Hippel had obtained a post in it, and he urged his friend to follow suit. Together they concocted the application, and on September 26, , Hoffmann entered upon his new duties in Berlin. The seven Berlin years, , the seven last years of his life, saw the emergence of the Hoffmann known to posterity, the "essential Hoffmann.
By day, Counselor Hoffmann, dressed in the uniform of the Prussian civil service , worked in the criminal prosecutions section of the Ministry of Justice. He also found time to visit and play with two small children, a boy and a girl, in the household of his friend Eduard Hitzig, and to construct elaborate toys for them. They are the real-life children, and he is the Godfather Drosselmeier, of his Nutcracker Christmas story.
And by night he composed the greater part of the sixty-odd stories and two novels on which his reputation is based. Legend claims that Hoffmann lived those seven years in a continuous state of alcoholic frenzy bordering on delirium. Mere common sense refutes the legend. He wrote by night, at home, while Misha sat silently at her knitting, interrupting her task at intervals to brew either tea or punch for her husband. The punch was no doubt strong, and it built on a foundation of punch and wine from the earlier tavern hours.
With alcoholic fuel his creative powers blazed; without it, they smoked and smoldered. Once, in the wee hours of a morning in November of , when he was writing The Sandman, he became so terrified at his own eerie creation that he woke Misha just to have the reassurance of human company. But other writers have found themselves carried away by their own literary inventions.
Quantity and quality of the Tales, to say nothing of his regular office routine, deny the possibility that he was perpetually drunk or perpetually in a state of morbid hallucination.
E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
The stories were written rapidly but not carelessly. There was conscientious "labor of the file. When a certain number of works had accumulated in scattered publications, the author would gather them up in book form, adding one or more new items to sweeten the purchase of the more expensive volumes. Thus emerged his second collection, Night Pieces, and his third collection, The Serapion Brethren, the frame-tale of which portrays the actual persons of "The Serapion Brethren" club to which the author belonged.
The fourth collection was made by friends after his death. The previously mentioned novel, The Devil's Elixirs, appeared in , but his second novel and universally acknowledged masterpiece, Kater Murr, was left unfinished, to the grief of all Hoffmann enthusiasts. Finally, there were the three sophisticated fairy tales which formed part of no collection: Little Zaches, published as an independent book in January, ; Princess Brambilla, written and published in ; and Master Flea, begun in the summer of , completed by dictation from the author's deathbed, and published in April of , less than two months before he died.
Letters, diaries, and miscellaneous pieces fill at least one large volume, musical criticism another volume, and the musical compositions equal the bulk of the literary creations. Little Zaches is pure entertainment, and of a high order. Like Shakespeare's Twelfth Night , to which it is akin in spirit though utterly dissimilar in content, it serves no purpose other than to be joyous and to make joyous. It is serious in the sense that it is high comedy and not farce, satire, or a sermon in disguise. In the little foreword to Princess Brambilla, the author forthrightly says all that need be said about the allegorizers of Zaches, about the "philosophy"-distillers of Zaches, and about the source-seekers of Zaches.
Truly, there is nothing to be done with this story except to enjoy it, and having enjoyed it, to put it by for a time and then enjoy it anew. Technically, it is "loose and coarse-woven," as Hoffmann says. It starts slowly; its course meanders slightly, but in no intricate pattern; its characters are devoid of complexity. The student Balthasar is a conventional jeune premier engagingly portrayed, with little touches of absurdity to make him both lovable and credible.
The heroine is "the lovely Candida," and no more than that; she exists only on the story's margin. Fabian and Pulcher are pleasing accessory figures. Even Zaches, for all that he is vividly pictured in his vanity, stupidity, and malice, is no more than the story's bone of contention. The real concern is with the two mature adults, Prosper Alpanus and the Fay Rosabelverde, and in their conflict lies the power and poignancy of the tale. When the fay's golden comb falls and shatters on Prosper's splendid pavement floor, the tiny crash is a small sound, but unforgettable.
The interview surrounding the breaking of the comb is mixed of hilarity and pathos in accordance with a formula unique with Hoffmann. Unforgettable, too, is that first appearance of Prosper Alpanus in the forest. In fact, the scene is so fine and so expertly placed in the narrative that the author was unable to match it in the scene of Prosper's departure. The anticlimax of the latter episode is one of the blemishes in the jewel. The Ninth Chapter is a little miracle of the narrative art.
The valet's stagy comedy at the outset soon gives way to the grim realism of the storming of Zaches's palace by the mob. In , readers might well feel the chill of upon them as they read that scene. Zaches's appearance on the balcony combines puppet-like farce with grisly humor; it also persuades the reader that the nasty little bug deserves to be crushed. Yet, if his death is directly forthcoming, it evokes feelings of the preposterous, the slightly disgusting, and the pathetic.
It would have been easy for the author to close his narrative with an innocent appeal to the reader's self-righteousness, but had he done so, the story itself would have turned malicious. Genuine pathos attends Rosabelverde's visit to the deathbed, and illusion triumphs after all over the truth of his nature. Again the author declines to allow pathos to be the final impression, lest his story turn overly sentimental. Burlesque follows, as the prince and his seven gentlemen take out their pocket handkerchiefs and weep in unison over the corpse.
Be it noted, however, that for all the burlesque, the prince's grief—or at least his vexation—is real. The last touch of all is the pathetic absurdity of old Liese's obtaining the onion-selling concession for the royal luncheons. On that reedy note is concluded this chapter of many tonalities. The author admits that the Fi- nal Chapter is mere epilogue and born of the wish to make a happy ending, because happy endings are so much nicer than sad ones.
By contrast, Princess Brambilla is a complex and controversial work. It has never lacked for admirers. It was welcome to the reading public of ; Heine remarked that anyone who did not lose his head over it, had no head to lose; Baudelaire praised it highly. On the other hand, the author's own "Serapion Brethren" read the work with dismay, and more than one reader since has begun it with all good will and put it impatiently by.
Strangeness surely marks it, a strangeness which is both initial handicap and ultimate glory. Its concept is unique, its execution constitutes a dazzling tour de force, yet there is abundant human warmth in it, and abundant humor, a thoroughly engaging hero, and even an urgent message. This last need not disquiet the sophisticated reader. It is a message of concern mainly for theater people, quite free of any abstruse philosophy, and in a fresh statement might not be bad advice for the contemporary stage.
The genesis of the story in the author's mind was odd. On his forty-fourth birthday, January 24, , one of the Serapion faithful, Dr. Koreff, presented Hoffmann with reproductions of a set of engravings by Jacques Callot Under the title of Balli di Sfessania, the twenty-four engravings depicted scenes and characters from the old Italian Commedia dell'Arte. Both artist and subject were dear to Hoffmann's heart. His own first collection of stories consisted of Fantasy Pieces i. The birthday gift begot the idea of "deducing" a story from the pictures, eight of which would then be reproduced as an integral part of the text.
Precisely what "dances" balli Callot specified is not clear, since the word "Sfessania" is unexplained. Professor Joseph F. De Simone of Brooklyn College conjectures a coined noun from Italian fesso— "cracked, split, cloven" with intensifying s-prefix. From the twenty-four original engravings, each the size of a small postcard, Hoffmann selected his eight arbitrarily and in "deducing his story" rearranged their order, so that we have, in Princess Brambilla, numbers 12, 3, 8, 23, 17, 24, 9, and 21 of the Callot set.
Nor are the eight reproduced just as Callot drew them. Eliminated are the tiny street scenes which, in a perspective different from that of the Commedia figures in the foreground, place those figures in a realistic daytime setting. The new background is a uniform brown, romantically mysterious, committed neither to day or night, but evocative of the nocturnal. In this way Hoffmann was able to treat Callot's different personages as the same personages in successive stages of the story.
And finally, each Brambilla picture is reproduced in mirror-image of the original, so that right-hand figures in Callot become left-hand figures in Hoffmann, and vice versa. The result is a set of radically new art works "by Hoffmann-Callot," and it is necessary to "read" them closely as part of the story entitled Princess Brambilla. Further, the subtitle, "A Capriccio in the Style of Jacques Callot," warns the reader to expect a tale suggestive of the new Romantic musical form called a " capriccio, " that swiftly and unpredictably changeful form which, in , had not yet received full definition from composers like Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms.
Near its close the story lapses briefly into verse—competent verse but admittedly not high poetry, and in a striking passage at the opening of the Sixth Chapter there is a dialogized section which attempts, as far as words are able to do so, to simulate the sensations of strenuous dancing. And the total story deals with drama and the acting profession. Here, a generation before Wagner, is an attempted synthesis of all the arts, a Gesamtkunstwerk.
The youthful hero of the story is Giglio Fava—"Lily Bean! But within him and unbeknown to him is contained a future master of comic acting whose name will be the Assyrian Prince Cornelio Chiapperi. The heroine is a stage seamstress, Giacinta Soardi, who for all her peppery temper sincerely loves Giglio, as he sincerely loves her.
Within her and unbeknown to her is contained a future mistress of comic acting whose name will be the Princess Brambilla. The narrative deals with the birth, growth, and development of these future selves. In a passage of more than usual grotesquerie we witness the birth of Prince Cornelio, who is so tiny that he can fit in a candy box, while a matching passage portrays the birth of Princess Brambilla as she rises from the neck of a wine bottle and stretches her tiny arms out toward Giglio. We are in Rome at carnival time, when the entire city becomes, as it were, a troupe of maskers in a swift, lusty, Devil-take-the-hindmost farce of the old Commedia.
But before the carnival starts, the populace beholds the arrival of a masked procession more bizarre and opulent than anything in Roman memory. In realistic terms, a Commedia troupe is coming to take up quarters in the palace of their benefactor, Prince Bastianello di Pistoja. Thus, so to speak, the Commedia comes to the Commedia.
Everything in the story will also come in pairs, in image and counter-image.
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He is also the benevolent mage who steers the hero through the troublesome course of transmutation of personalities. No sooner is Giglio's new Self born so small as to fit in a candy box than a struggle begins between the old Self of the bad tragic actor and the new Self of the great comic actor of the future. The seesaw battle is a striking variation on the theme of Romantic doubles, and it rises to a climax in a duel where the new Self does the old Self to death amid outrageous exaggerations of fencers' etiquette and to the whooping delight of carnival maskers.
Thereafter, Giglio Fava is essentially dead and only Prince Cornelio lives on. Whimsically, however, the author makes Giglio pursue Princess Brambilla, while he refuses to believe that she is Giacinta the seamstress, and has Giacinta pursue Prince Cornelio, although she indignantly rejects him whenever his bombast and preposterous chivalry identify him as the inferior Giglio Fava. The final chapter, by way of epilogue, shows Giglio and Giacinta happily married and happily playing leading roles—presumably under their new stage names—with a successful Commedia troupe.
The ultimate theme of the story is the formation of an artist. Some readers may experience a distressing sense of weightlessness in a work which so often outflies the gravitational pull of realism. No assurance can be given them that a rational explanation underlies each mystifying episode, though they may be certain that the author constructed his story with the support of realistic scaffolding. Sometimes that scaffolding is visible; sometimes a little reflection will discover it. We suggest that Giglio, after losing his job as a tragic actor, performs in a sideshow run by the "mounte-bank" Celionati.
Certainly he receives a purse of ducats from time to time from Celionati, so that we may assume a kind of "on-the-job training. In Hoffmann stories, the title of Master is always reverent. We may also infer that the side show satire diverts audiences from the Argentina Theater, to the ruin of the box-office-minded impresario and to the undercutting of The White Moor before that "tragedy" ever reached the boards. The mystifying events of the Second Chapter are best understood as hallucinations resulting from Giglio's being "possessed" by his dream vision, though some will follow the false clue and take them for products of that flagon at the end of the First Chapter.
The duel between the Selves, which is witnessed by crowds of people, we suggest is a brilliant piece of acrobatics with a dummy, the live actor being dressed as the Commedia personage Captain Pantalone and the dummy being dressed as an unmistakable Giglio Fava in the tragical role of the White Moor. The tooth which Celionati extracts from Prince Cornelio—who is Giglio, after all—is surely false theatricalism.
The patient's need for vigorous physical exercise doubtless refers to the strenuous clown-acrobatics which are the anti-thesis of static posing for heroic declamation: exercise will cure "stiffness. With Celionati's telling of the experiences of his friend Ruffiamonte we have a favorite set of motifs from German Romanticism: the tale within a tale, the notion of history as cyclical, the notion of pre-existence, and the notion of Romanticism's mission to re-establish what was once won and then lost again through wrongheaded rationalism.
Melancholy King Ophioch and his silly Queen Liris are allegorical antitheses. Onesidedness brings them to grief. But the mage Hermod, an avatar of Ruffiamonte, creates the Urdar Spring of comic art, into which people gaze and laugh in sublime delight. Comic art, held as a mirror up to nature, provides those doubles, those second ironic selves, which release mankind from misery. But the Urdar Spring dried up and became a noxious swamp.
A wicked demon in a black robe—and the Abbate Chiari necessarily wore a black cassock—impersonated the mage Hermod and counseled falsely as to how to restore the mirror waters. A Commedia performance in the final chapter of the story recreates the glorious spring. Hoffmann, who was never in Italy, freely used the Roman carnival "finale" of Goethe's Italian Journey for background details. The literarily curious may wish to compare the opening of the story with the opening of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister.
More significant would be an account of Gozzi's literary battles in the 's against Goldoni and the real-life Abbate Pietro Chiari. But all those elements are small details in the stupendous invention of Princess Brambilla. Death and the police both strove mightily to keep Master Flea from being printed. In that struggle, Death lost out but the police were partially successful. Wherein may lie a moral. In any event, not until , eighty-six years after composition, was this "dangerous" story published in the form intended by the author.
As chairman of a committee investigating subversive activities in the name of the Prussian government, Hoffmann had occasion to submit formal protests to his superiors concerning the unjustified arrest and detention of several prominent persons. The protests evoked counterprotest from Heinrich von Kamptz , Director of Police and second in charge under K.
In that post-Napoleonic era of political reaction, the latter was taking no chances with borderline cases, but Kamptz, the "demagogue sniffer," wanted blood and victims. Upon the arrest of the famous and controversial " Turnvater " Jahn, Kamptz published a notice in the Berlin newspapers before any trial had been held, stating that Jahn's guilt was proven. From jail Jahn proffered charges, and it was Hoffmann who summoned Kamptz, his own superior, to appear in court to answer the charges.
Intervention by King Friedrich Wilhelm III in March of ruled out any such confrontation, and after the lapse of almost a year a new committee was appointed to work concurrently with the uncooperative one of which Hoffmann was chairman. Which committee was to have precedence was not clarified.
Meanwhile Hoffmann's difficult position was made more difficult by the ever widening scope of Kamptz's activities. In the summer of , he resigned from his committee and from government service, but it was not until December that it occurred to him to inject a caricature of Kamptz into the half-finished Master Flea. Very little exaggerated from real life, Kamptz there appears as prosecutor Knarrpanti, and there the reader may investigate him at leisure. Possibly Hoffmann anticipated legal complications, for, if the reader will look closely, he will note that the three Knarrpanti passages are self-contained units of narrative which can be extracted from context with hardly a trace of a break.
Hoffmann was also indiscreet about his story and soon all Berlin knew that a satire on Kamptz was to be expected in the next "Tale of Hoffmann. The Frankfurt Senate then made representations to Wilmans Brothers, who turned over not only the Knarrpanti episodes but the entire manuscript.
Upon hearing this news, Hoffmann is quoted as saying: "They can all—————————! With some relief he next heard that Wilmans had ransomed the manuscript, minus the Knarrpanti sections, from the Prussian government for a sizable fee and that they were sending advance partial payment. In March of , Wilmans published from a transcript. The original manuscript with the Knarrpanti sections remained in the government files to be discovered by scholars in Meanwhile, a plea from Hippel to Prime Minister Hardenberg could not avert retaliatory action by Kamptz and Schuckmann, the latter of whom was holding the manuscript.
Hoffmann's serious illness postponed action. Three months later death obviated it altogether. Concurrently, the bedridden author, in constant pain and partially paralyzed, was dictating the final chapters of the story. At intervals his physician came to lay hot irons against the patient's spinal column to "stimulate" the dead nerves. Hoffmann asked one visitor if he noticed the smell of roast flesh in the sickroom. After the final dictation, on February 29, , the author expressed to his friend Hitzig the fear that the public might blame his illness for the faults in the story.
One marvels that such circumstances permitted the bittersweet humor and the rapturous close of Master Flea, to say nothing of the deft and sure handling of serious thought. The ideas voiced in the work are significant ones, and though they are borrowed from other men—Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis, Schelling, and others—they were nonetheless sincerely held and skillfully manipulated. Always, however, they are expressed in terms of comedy and irony. There is no "philosophy" as such and there is no preaching.
In the early ages of the world, according to the Romantic interpretation, joyous creativity knew no bounds. With equal spontaneity, Nature expended energy in all possible varieties of experiment. The life force, having accumulated matter about one or more particles of itself, might "create" a lion; just as easily it might dissolve that lion form to "create" a flower, a cloud, a stone, a man, a centaur, a mermaid, an emerald, or, again, a lion.
Form might succeed form.
E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
Nature was free and at play. Vitality was inexhaustible. Such was the Golden Age of old. Fixed forms and restricted progressions betokened the Fall from the exuberant, childlike grace, and with the Fall came sorrow and travail. Man, evolving, learned much and raised himself admirably. In so doing, however, he came to lay undue stress on the principle of the rational mind, to the harm of his other constituent faculties, much as the joyous and credulous child becomes a problematic and doubting adolescent.
Genuine adulthood must adjust childhood's values with the values of adolescence, and it must raise both to a higher power, not by a process of mere addition, but by a process of multiplication.
E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
The mission of Romanticism was not to regain the Golden Age of old, the childhood of the race, nor to undo the Age of Reason, the adolescence of the race, but to bring both into harmony within a new and greater Golden Age, the adulthood of the race. Such, in oversimplified form, is the "philosophical" premise of this story.
The characters in Master Flea have realistic existences in Frankfurt-on-the-Main as of , but they also existed, under different names, in the Golden Age of old, and the first task of the story is to bring them to realization of their former selves. Hoffmann, like other German Romanticists, tended to believe in the reincarnation of souls, without, however, making an article of faith of it.
But in the new and greater Golden Age, he saw some "souls" would be exalted by virtue of their merit while others would be reduced or even extinguished altogether, for in the present state of human life, there are petty spirits falsely aggrandized and downright negative or dead things that have wrongfully acquired the semblance of positive existence. The dream vision at the end of Master Flea is a grandiose setting to rights of this condition and in that setting to rights it is not difficult to discern that the Heart is king or that aggressive pseudo-intellects are reduced to mere doll-babies; the repulsive, barely living Leech is banished "below," while his accomplice, Thetel, disintegrates into sheer nothingness, for that was his essence.
He was apparently a shuttlecock. Against this imposing general plan, the story displays its mellow wit and vivid human portraiture. The study in contrasted "loving" and "being in love" is one of Hoffmann's finest insights, and it should be noted that he does full justice to both. No other hero of his, except Johannes Kreisler, is so expertly portrayed as is Peregrinus Tyss. We suggest that they are the tragic and comic heroes respectively of Hoffmann's art.
Be it further noted that the author's concern with his hero is pedagogical, as it is in Little Zaches and in Princess Brambilla and in numerous other instances as well. But here there is no benevolent mage to guide him. Instead, we have Master Flea, who is a delightful combination of sober entomology, a proverb about "a flea in one's ear," and Common Sense. If one looks closely, one will detect his partial provenience from Sterne's Tristram Shandy.
George Pepusch as second hero is wholly lovable and understandable. In Keats's words, they "cease upon the midnight with no pain," and, quite literally as flowers, amid an outpouring of fragrance. The opening chapter of Master Flea is a masterpiece within a masterpiece. Heine called it "divine.
Heine was wrong. The explanation of his uncharacteristic misjudgment may well lie in another sentence of his review: "I do not find a single line in it that is concerned with demagogic activity. The suppressed Knarrpanti scandal had still another curious side effect. Duke Karl August of Weimar was mischievously amused by the highhanded goings-on in Berlin and chose to present a copy of Master Flea to his most distinguished courtier, the seventy-three-year-old Goethe, who, he thought, might enjoy a story set in Goethe's native Frankfurt.
Of the work and its dying author, Goethe wrote in "It is undeniable that there is a certain charm from which one cannot escape in the way he has of combining the most familiar places and customary, even ordinary, situations with implausible, impossible events. Of the author five years dead, Goethe wrote in What faithful participant concerned with the education of a nation has not noted with sorrow that the unhealthy works of that suffering man have been effective for long years in Germany and that healthy spirits have been inoculated with such aberrations in the guise of significantly helpful novelties.
Hoffmann satisfied neither Goethe's demand for heroic, eighteenth-century idealism nor Heine's newer demand for literature of political and social commitment. The masterpieces translated in this volume, like the rest of Hoffmann's works, were sustained by the reading public of the European continent and by certain continental intellectuals, especially Frenchmen and Russians. With love and veneration they are herewith offered to the English-speaking peoples.
Hoffmann's Fairy Tales, Boston, , as translated from the French by Lafayette Burnham, who remarks: "The French possesses in a greater degree the ease necessary for amusing narratives, and corrects the terseness of the harsher Teutonic. Hoffmann, pp. New York , N. The distinguishing feature in his mind was surely the dominant role of the magical and miraculous in these works as contrasted with a more episodic, incidental, interventional function of these elements, and in some cases their complete absence, in his other short fiction. In particular, the magical personages in these seven stories are depicted as existing within the framework of a supernatural realm, about which a good deal of information is conveyed, invariably in the form of a story within the story.
In Ludwig Tieck 's stories with magical elements, notably "Der blonde Eckbert" "Blond Eckbert," , "Der Runenberg" "The Rune Mountain," , and "Die Elfen" "The Elves," , which exerted a considerable influence on Hoffmann's concept of fantastic fiction generally, the existence of the spirit realm remains largely unexplained and mysterious these stories were collected in the first volume of Tieck's Phantasus, In other German Romantic fiction of this type, the identification of the realm from which magical or miraculous happenings emanate is indeed clear; but at the same time there is no story within the story about that realm.
However, little else about that realm as such is related or depicted. Meanwhile, in Chamisso's Peter Schlemihl the supernatural power is the Christian devil; and in Joseph von Eichendorff's "Das Marmorbild" it is that of the heathen love goddess Venus, identified from a pious perspective as being a satanic agent. In the literary folk fairy tale, too, as known from the classic collections of Giambattista Basile ca. As we remember, in famous stories such as "Snow White" and "Sleeping Beauty," we are dealing simply with magical curses or conjurings on the part of older women with supernatural powers of unspecified origin, whereas in "Cinderella" the same power is used for good rather than for evil purposes.
In other well-known stories, such as "Beauty and the Beast" or "The Frog Prince," which involve magical transformations, the focus is so much on the reversal of the metamorphosis that the question of the magic that produced it is hardly raised or only as a seeming afterthought. As we know, in the literary folk fairy tale the characters do not act as though the magic they encounter is anything out of the ordinary. They would not think of such occurrences as magical. While they live in an otherwise familiar realm, magical happenings are very much a part of that reality.
In philosophical, allegorical, or symbolical fairy tales like those by Goethe and Novalis, the characters likewise do not show the least surprise at magical phenomena for the similar reason that they live totally within a spiritual realm. As we have seen, the characters in his tales not uncommonly fear for their sanity in connection with their encounters with a spirit realm. A fire sprite whose natural form is that of a salamander has been banished from the spirit realm as punishment for having mated with a snake against the wishes of the realm's ruler, the spirit prince Phosphorus, who sired the snake with a fire lily.
The salamander has been condemned to live as an archivist named Lindhorst in Dresden in Germany until such time as he has succeeded in marrying his three serpentine daughters to young men of the town. The first of the three daughters to wed is Serpentina, with whom a young university student, Anselmus, falls in love. They are transported to a magical spirit realm called Atlantis where they marry and presumably live happily ever after. Anselmus's union with Serpentina is a happy ending because he was blissfully enchanted by her from the moment she first appeared to him, in her elemental form as a small snake.
He saw her among the leaves of an elder tree by the banks of the Elbe River in Dresden on Ascension Day. During the course of the following summer, he yearned in vain for the little snake with the beautiful blue eyes and heavenly singing voice to reappear to him in the elder tree. With the approach of autumn, he learns from the archivist Lindhorst, for whom he had agreed to copy manuscripts, that the appealing snake is named Serpentina and is Lindhorst's daughter.
In the course of his subsequent work for Lindhorst that following fall, Serpentina appears to Anselmus in human form to declare her love for him. Anselmus's devotion to Serpentina wavers when he is seized by fear that this involvement with a being from the spirit realm indicates that he is losing his mind.
His doubt about his love for Serpentina is punished by imprisonment in a glass bottle on a shelf in Lindhorst's library, from which torment he is released by a renewal of his faith in his devotion to the magical beloved. Upon his release from the glass bottle he is transported to Serpentina's spirit homeland Atlantis.
Anselmus's lapse in his devotion to Serpentina is occasioned by the attention paid to him by the appealing daughter of his older schoolmaster friend, Vice-Principal Paulmann. Veronica Paulmann, a blossoming maiden of 16, sets her cap on Anselmus from the moment she hears that Anselmus, as a result of his work for Lindhorst, has excellent prospects of achieving the coveted rank of councilor to the royal court Hofrat.
Veronica immediately consults a fortune-teller, Frau Rauerin, recommended by her girlfriends for her usually favorable predictions about marriage prospects. To her dismay, Veronica hears from the fortune-teller that Anselmus is in love with Serpentina, whereupon Veronica enlists the old woman's aid in attempting to win him away from the supernatural beloved with magical means.
Aided by this magic, Veronica succeeds briefly in turning Anselmus's head as he pays a visit to her one morning that fall, only to have him then return to his love for Serpentina and disappear with her from Dresden. Veronica grieves that winter over the loss of her dream of marrying Anselmus and becoming Frau Hofrat but then finds a substitute in the young bookkeeper Heerbrand, who in the meantime has himself been named to the coveted rank, with its elevated social status. Anselmus is not only a young man whom two young women are out to marry, he is also a pawn in a related struggle between two magical beings—the salamander alias archivist Lindhorst and Frau Rauerin alias an old woman apple peddler.
Frau Rauerin, meanwhile, is out to defeat Lindhorst's plan. Even before Veronica enlists her aid in winning Anselmus, she appears to him in Lindhorst's door knocker to prevent him from reporting for work there. She then enables Veronica to produce a little metal mirror with which Veronica can turn Anselmus's thoughts to her mesmeristically.
Lindhorst's defeat of her in that struggle is the signal for Serpentina to appear and for Anselmus to be liberated from the bottle and blissfully plunge into the spirit beloved's arms. While Frau Rauerin does not belong to a spirit realm as such, her struggle with Lindhorst shows her to be a creature of the nether world, understood as a cross between the realm of earth sprites or gnomes and that of the devil.
She uses soil from pots as her weapon against Lindhorst's salamandric flames, and it is revealed that she is the offspring of a union between a root vegetable and a dragon's feather, the latter calling to mind the representation of the devil in Revelations as a dragon. Already in her first appearance, she may be seen as associated with infernal temptation insofar as she is peddling apples like the serpent in the biblical story of the Fall. Her role as apple peddler may be seen at the same time as anticipating her later role as fortune-teller and mentor in Veronica's quest to marry Anselmus if one thinks of Eve's temptation of Adam as erotic seduction.
From this perspective, the apple woman's enigmatic warning to Anselmus that he will soon fall "into the crystal" "ins Kristall bald dein Fall—ins Kristall! She aims to have him marry a girl of the sort for whom she prophesies marital bliss, hence the reference to crystal as an allusion to the practice of fortune-telling with crystal balls, wherein the girl's intended would appear as a sign that her wish will be fulfilled.
Since the apple woman appears to utter her warning in anger at Anselmus's absent-minded overturning of her apple baskets in his haste, she seems more likely to be foretelling that Anselmus will come to a bad end. As a fortune-teller alias magical being, she may be presumed to foresee his imprisonment in the glass bottle, perhaps even his union with Serpentina, which from Frau Rauerin's perspective is a bad or at least unwanted end for him.
It can be assumed that the apple peddler knows that he is headed to the amusement park to meet young women, and she perhaps recognizes him as the type of young student with his head in the clouds. She does not demand money from him; it is he who in his horror and embarrassment over his clumsiness tosses her his purse and thereby loses his chance to try to strike up polite conversation with the girls at Linke's Bad.
In her identity as Frau Rauerin, the last thing the peddler woman wants is to prevent him from meeting young women. Hoffmann's reader is introduced first to the little snake alias Serpentina, and only afterwards to Veronica. However, it soon becomes clear that Anselmus has known Veronica for a good while before the little snake and her two sisters appear to him in the elder tree, under which he seated himself to smoke his pipe to console himself over the missed opportunity to see the girls at the amusement park.
Once he has encountered the little snake, Anselmus thinks no more of those girls; at the same time, he begins to notice Veronica and feel an attraction to her. Moreover, he notices for the first time that Veronica has blue eyes, as did the little snake he saw shortly before in the elder tree. If we view Anselmus as the romantic dreamer, then we can see his visionary experiences with Serpentina as a reflex and sublimation of his attraction to Veronica, an attraction that rises to the level of his consciousness only after he has encountered a sublimation of it.
From this perspective, Veronica has the misfortune of setting her cap on a romantic dreamer who is for that reason not the marrying type or is so only when it comes to marriage with spirits. At the same time, we may suspect that she is attracted to him precisely because he is a romantic dreamer, which would explain her psychic ability to know what he is dreaming. That also explains why, at the end, she alone among Dresden's nonspirit residents seems to know what has happened to Anselmus. It was there, if Anselmus's "fellow prisoners" in glass bottles are to be believed, that he was standing when last seen in Dresden.
The implication is that, unknown to himself, Anselmus in plunging into Serpentina's arms was actually leaping to his death from the bridge. Such a reading of the tale suggests itself, too, from the playfully ironic tone in which Der goldne Topf is narrated, most notable in the frequent asides to the reader that culminate in the narrator's confession of the difficulty he encountered in envisioning Anselmus's bliss with Serpentina in Atlantis.
The concluding rhetorical question that Lindhorst puts to the storyteller—" Is Anselmus's bliss, all told, anything else than living in poetry, to which the sacred harmony of all beings reveals itself to be nature's deepest secret? Anselmus's bliss, which we know only from the storyteller's vision of it as experienced under the influence of Lindhorst's magical alcoholic punch, was by definition living in poetry on the storyteller's part. As for Anselmus himself, his bliss was a matter not only of living in poetry but—albeit unconsciously—dying for it. A handsome young man has been transformed into an ugly nutcracker doll by a woman seeking to take revenge on a king with a beautiful daughter.
The young man can only be restored to his human form through the brave devotion of a young woman who will assist the nutcracker in defeating the woman's son. We may recognize in this story elements of such familiar fairy tales as "Sleeping Beauty," namely the woman's taking revenge on a king with a beautiful daughter, and "Beauty and the Beast," in which the beautiful daughter becomes devoted to the creature despite his ugliness. A chief difference between Hoffmann's nutcracker story and literary folk fairy tales is that, as in Der goldne Topf, the central figure receives an explanation of the magical realm's entry into his or her life from another character in the story.
The wound resulted from her witnessing, alone and at the stroke of midnight, a pitched battle between the nutcracker doll, which she and her siblings had just received that evening as a Christmas present from her father, and a hideous mouse with seven heads, each with a small crown. When the King of Mice appeared to be winning the battle and Marie took off a slipper to hurl at him, she fell against the cabinet.
The King of Mice is the son of the Queen of Mice, Frau Mauserinks, who is out to take revenge on Princess Pirlipat's father for having ordered that all of the mice in his castle be killed. That part of the idea for the tale is clearly related to the exchange that had occurred Christmas Eve between the godfather and goddaughter about the nutcracker doll's ugliness.
The nephew's role is the romantic one of the handsome young man who rescues a beautiful princess from an evil spell. More important, the godfather provides the goddaughter with a positive role most appealing to her imagination, that of angel of rescue for the handsome young man whom Frau Mauserinks turned into a nutcracker. A twinge of envy surely seized the adoring godfather at that moment. Marie, meanwhile, devoted herself to caring for the injured doll. Her ensuing magical adventure at midnight that evening can be seen as the fulfillment of a wish that the nutcracker doll might be in reality a brave young man who would try to protect her against mice—stereotypically an object of terror or revulsion for her as a young girl—and to whose aid she would come should he encounter mortal danger on her behalf in combating the mice.
At the same time, she envisions herself, like beautiful young Princess Pirlipat in that tale, as the object of attack from Frau Mauserinks and her son, the seven-headed King of Mice. Marie's ensuing magical adventures concern visits to her bedroom by the King of Mice to extort forfeits from her and her aiding Nutcracker in obtaining a sword with which to slay the mouse. After Nutcracker has defeated the villain, he transports Marie, via the sleeve in her father's overcoat, to his magical realm of dolls. There Marie falls asleep and awakens back home at her parents' house in Berlin.
The godfather's nephew explains that her declaration has just restored him to human form. Hoffmann's readers are left to ponder the connection between the goddaughter's declaration of love for "Dear Mr. This shift from romantic to pious fairy tale was surely in response to the criticism that Hoffmann's nutcracker story was more for adults than for children and that he was incapable of writing a proper children's fairy tale.
Felix and Christlieb von Brakel, a brother and sister of school age or approaching it, encounter a magical child while playing in the woods on their parents' estate. Like the nutcracker in the previous story, this magical playmate, known to the siblings as the Strange Child, is threatened by an evil adversary, in this case a gnome or earth-spirit named Pepser. The gnome, having adopted the alias Pepasilio to veil his identity, became prime minister to the Strange Child's mother in her kingdom. Pepasilio rebelled, causing that paradisiacal realm to be forever separated from the earth. The child tells Felix and Christlieb that his sojourn on earth must now end, since the gnome is master there.
Sadly, they cannot join him in his return to his mother's kingdom because unlike him they are unable to fly. The siblings' encounter with the Strange Child occurs as they and their parents are anticipating the arrival of a tutor whom a rich relative, Count Cyprianus von Brakel, is sending out to their modest estate so that the children might receive some schooling that the count considers proper to the family's social standing and in keeping with the latest fashion.
In the tutor, Master Ink, the children discover the Strange Child's adversary, the Gnome Pepser, who was punished for his rebellion by being transformed into a fly. Even after Felix and Christlieb's father has chased off Master Ink with a flyswatter, the children are no longer able to find and communicate with the Strange Child. The children's father then soon dies, as though in punishment for having chased away the tutor.
Felix and Christlieb's encounters with the Strange Child are identified as fantasy insofar as the brother refers to the magical playmate as belonging to his sex, while the sister sees the child as a girl. The entry of the child into their lives occurs in connection with their anxiety about having their idyllic rural childhood disturbed or ended by the arrival of the tutor.
Master Ink represents for them the specter of growing up and assuming a proper station in society. Their father, Thaddeus von Brakel, has not met that challenge fully, to judge from his impoverishment and deep financial indebtedness to Cousin Cyprianus. About this Item: Marix Verlag, More information about this seller Contact this seller 9.
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