E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
E. T. A. Hoffmann 1776–1822
(Full name Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann) German short-story writer, novelist, essayist, composer, and librettist.
The following entry presents an overview of Hoffmann's career through 2004.
Hoffmann was arguably the most original and influential fiction writer of the German Romantic era. He began his career as a composer, writing nine operas, a symphony, and numerous shorter pieces over the course of a successful music career. By his early thirties, however, he had begun to devote more of his energy to writing prose, publishing his first collection of stories, the landmark, two-volume Fantasiestücke in Callot's Manier, in 1814 and 1815. His Märchen—dark short stories and magical fables—blended the fantastic and the macabre with realism, allegory, and metaphor. Owing to Hoffmann's musical background, his stories are written in a highly poetic and musical style and have been frequently adapted into opera and ballet—famed Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky based his Nutcracker ballet on Hoffmann's "Nußknacker und Mausekönig" ("The Nutcracker and the Mouse King"), first published in Kinder-Mährchen in 1816. Many scholars contend that Hoffmann's short stories, novellas, fables, and fairy tales presaged the surrealist literature of the twentieth century while also forming the cornerstone of the modern horror and fantasy genres. Indeed, Hoffmann's influence on the development of modern literature was pervasive, and his admirers and imitators included Sir Walter Scott, Nikolai Gogol, Edgar Allan Poe, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, and Samuel Beckett, among numerous others.
Hoffmann was born on January 24, 1776, in Königsberg, East Prussia. His father was a successful lawyer, who was known to be argumentative and a heavy drinker. Hoffmann's parents divorced before Hoffmann turned four; his father left with Hoffmann's older brother Karl, and Hoffmann and his mother moved in with her parents in Junkerstrasse not only for financial support, but also to maintain social respectability following divorce. From 1792 to 1795, Hoffmann attended the University of Königsberg, studying law. While a student, he became romantically involved with Dora Hatt, an older, married woman. His family, hoping to avoid scandal, secured a position for him in Glogau, where he stayed with cousins, filling his non-working hours with theatrical, literary, and musical entertainments and studies. He eventually acquiesced to family pressure and became engaged to his cousin, Minna Doerffer, but broke off the engagement after he obtained a position in Posen. His career as a government official seemed promising until 1802, when he made an unflattering drawing of General von Zastrow—the Commander General of Posen—and was dishonorably transferred to Plozk. There he met and married a young woman named Mishaelina Rohrer. He excelled in his professional position and was soon after transferred to Warsaw, a promotion. As his career began to rise again, Napoleon invaded Warsaw, and Hoffmann lost his position. With his organizational skill and literary and musical talents, he applied to serve as a theatre director in Bamberg and filled that position from 1808 to 1813. During this time, he replaced the Wilhelm in his name with Amadeus to honor Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and penned his first successful work of fiction, "Ritter Gluck" (first published in book form in Fantasiestücke in Callot's Manier). The short story brought him accolades but not financial success, so Hoffmann supplemented his theatre director's salary with voice tutoring. He fell in love with one of his pupils, a thirteen-year-old girl named Julia Marc, and they carried on a scandalous affair until her parents became aware of the liaison and married her off when she was sixteen to a merchant from Hamburg. Hoffmann received another opportunity in government shortly thereafter; from 1814 to 1822 he served in Berlin as a counselor and judge in the Prussian Ministry of Justice. Most accounts note that Hoffmann's alcohol consumption was heavy and, by 1818, his health was failing as a result. Yet, during this period, he finished his opera Undine (1816) and wrote the majority of his fables and short stories. The last of his Märchen, "Meister Floh" (1822; "Master Flea"), was written while Hoffmann was bedridden and partially paralyzed. He died on June 25, 1822, at the age of forty-six.
Of the numerous stories Hoffmann wrote, his first Märchen, "Der goldne Topf" (1814; "The Golden Pot"), is considered his finest. The tale concerns Anselmus, a young man who falls in love with Serpentina, who first appears to Anselmus as a snake and later as a human woman. Anselmus is engaged to Veronica, the daughter of a respectable man in town, and Anselmus becomes torn between the respectability and comfort of Veronica and the magic, wild, and unknown aspects of Serpentina. Veronica, knowing she has competition, enlists the aid of a local witch to help her win Anselmus's affection, yet ultimately, he chooses the mysterious and magical Serpentina. Desire is portrayed darker in "Der Sandmann" (1817; "The Sandman"), a tale that directly influenced Sigmund Freud's theory of oedipal castration. In "The Sandman," Nathanael's father dies when Nathanael is young, and his mother creates a story about a Sandman to keep him in bed at night. The only person Nathanael feels a human connection to is Olympia, who ironically is not human, merely an automaton. Parental neglect is also the cause of conflict in "Klein Zaches genannt Zinnober" (1819; "Little Zaches, Called Zinnober"). Little Zaches is a grotesquely ugly child, abandoned by his repulsed mother. A kind spirit tries to make him beautiful but cannot; instead, the spirit provides Zaches with magic hairs that make others perceive him as handsome, intelligent, and charming. Zaches grows to be conceited and filled with self-importance, though his false transformation is only superficial. Zaches becomes interested in Candida, but she is being wooed by the humble Balthasar. Zaches' magic hairs almost help him win Candida, yet his deception and ugly nature are revealed, and Balthasar and Candida are wed. Physical ugliness is portrayed in a different manner in "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." Here a handsome prince has been made hideous by magic. The handsome prince has been turned into a nutcracker doll, and the spell can only be broken by a beautiful and caring young girl. This girl helps the prince defeat the Mouse King, son of the sorceress who first cast the spell, and the curse is lifted. Hoffmann's "Prinzessin Brambilla" (1821; "Princess Brambilla") is less dark and more humorous that his other Märchen. Giancita, a modest seamstress, is in love with Giglio, an actor, but the grandeur of his roles makes him create a magical world where he aspires to wed the magical Princess Brambilla, and she, in turn, is in love with an Assyrian prince, Cornelio. In his fantasy world, Giglio strives to become Cornelio, who coincidentally is having an affair with a humble seamstress, Giancita. Therefore, in becoming the prince, Giglio loves Giancita, and they eventually marry. Hoffmann's final Märchen, "Master Flea," is also humorous and uplifting in tone. Peregrinus unwittingly rescues Master Flea, and as payment for his continued help, Master Flea offers him a magic lens that allows Peregrinus to read other people's minds. Peregrinus is an innocent, and rather that be exposed to the negative traits of human nature, he refuses the magic lens. He marries simply but happily and lives his life peacefully.
At the height of his career, Hoffmann enjoyed widespread popularity among German readers and critics, who praised the suspense and imaginative power of his fiction. Translations of Hoffmann's works began to attract attention in England and the United States shortly after his death. Reviews of Hoffmann's work appeared periodically throughout the nineteenth century as new editions of his writings became available in English. These early commentators rarely provided insight into the thematic importance of Hoffmann's works, however, generally focusing only on their sensational aspects. In the early twentieth century, critics began to examine Hoffmann's major themes in more detail. Scholar George Brandes, in his 1902 essay "Romantic Duplication and Psychology," was among the first to delve into Hoffmann's explorations of the ego in his supernatural stories. In 1919 Sigmund Freud published a seminal article on Hoffmann's treatment of the uncanny in his supernatural tales. After World War II, a number of scholars, notably Ronald Taylor and Ursula Lawson, began to focus on the relationship between creativity and madness in Hoffmann's fiction. By the late twentieth century, scholars had begun to analyze the stylistic and structural aspects of Hoffmann's work. Hoffmann's works of children's literature—particularly his Märchen—have been lauded for their imaginative use of fantasy and reality. Although fairy tales were not a new literary form in Hoffmann's era, many scholars have purported that Hoffmann forever altered the genre by providing explanations for the abrupt appearance of the absurd and fantastic in seemingly realist settings, rather than simply creating magical worlds in which to set his tales. Some commentators have lamented that English and American scholars have often overlooked Hoffmann's contributions to the overall canon of children's literature, but have been pleased with the resurgence of interest in Hoffmann's works that began in the late twentieth century. Such critical re-evaluations have been bolstered by a number of more recent adaptations of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" that have returned to Hoffmann's original tale rather than relying on Tchaikovsky's undeniably popular interpretation of the story.
*Fantasiestücke in Callot's Manier. 4 vols. [published anonymously] (short stories) 1814-1815; revised edition, 1819
Die Elixiere des Teufels: Nachgelassene Papiere des Bruders Medardus, eines Capuziners [published anonymously; The Devil's Elixir] (novel) 1815-1816
Undine (opera) 1816
Kinder-Mährchen. 2 vols. [with Karl Wilhelm Contessa and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué] (short stories) 1816-1817
†Nachtstücke, herausgegeben von dem Verfasser der Fantasiestücke in Callot's Manier. 2 vols. [published anonymously] (short stories) 1816-1817
‡Klein Zaches genannt Zinnober [Little Zach, published in Hoffman's Fairy Tales; also published as Little Zaches, Surnamed Zinnober in Three Märchen of E. T. A. Hoffman] (novella) 1819
Die Serapions-Brüder: Gesammelte Erzählungen und Märchen. 4 vols. (short stories) 1819-1821; published as The Serapion Brethren, 2 vols., 1886-1892
Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr nebst fragmentarischer Biographie des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler in zufälligen Makulaturblättern. 2 vols. (novel) 1820-1822; published as The Educated Cat in Nutcracker and Mouse King, and The Educated Cat, 1892
§Die letzten Erzählungen von E. T. A. Hoffmann. 2 vols. [edited by Julius Eduard Hitzig] (short stories) 1825
Hoffmann's Strange Stories: From the German [translated by Lafayette Burnham] (short stories) 1855
Hoffmann's Fairy Tales [translated by Lafayette Burnham] (short stories) 1857
Weird Tales by E. T. A. Hoffmann: A New Translation from the German [translated by John Thomas Bealby] (short stories) 1885
Sämmtliche Werke: Serapions-Ausgabe. 14 vols. [edited by Leopold Hirschberg] (essays and short stories) 1922
Tales of Hoffmann [edited by Christopher Lazare] (short stories) 1946
Tales from Hoffmann: Translated by Various Hands [edited by J. M. Cohen] (short stories) 1950
Eight Tales of Hoffmann, Newly Translated [translated by J. M. Cohen] (short stories) 1952
The King's Bride [translated by Paul Turner] (short story) 1959
Coppélia: The Girl with Enamel Eyes [edited and illustrated by Warren Chappell] (short story) 1965
The Best Tales of Hoffmann [edited by E. F. Bleiler] (short stories) 1967
Selected Writings of E. T. A. Hoffmann. 2 vols. [edited and translated by Leonard J. Kent and Elizabeth C. Knight] (short stories) 1969
Three Märchen of E. T. A. Hoffmann [translated by Charles E. Passage] (short stories) 1971
Tales [edited by Victor Lange] (short stories) 1982
Tales of Hoffmann [edited and translated by R. J. Hollingdale] (short stories) 1982
║The Nutcracker [translated by Ralph Manheim; illustrations by Maurice Sendak] (short story) 1984
The Strange Child [translated by Anthea Bell; illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger] (short story) 1984
*This work includes, in volume 1, "Jacques Callot," "Ritter Gluck," "Kreisleriana Nro. 1-6," and "Don Juan"; in volume 2, "Nachricht von den neuesten Schicksalen des Hundes Berganza" and "Der Magnetiseur"; in volume 3, "Der goldne Topf" ["The Golden Pot"]; and in volume 4, "Die Abenteuer der Silvester-Nacht" and "Kreisleriana."
†This work includes, in volume 1, "Der Sandmann" ["The Sandman"], "Ignaz Denner," "Die Jesuiterkirche in G." ["The Jesuits Church in G-"], and "Sanctus"; and in volume 2, "Das öde Haus," "Das Majorat" ["Rolaudsitten; or, The Deed of Entail"], "Das Gelübde," and "Das steinerne Herz."
‡This work includes, in volume 1, "Der Einsiedler Serapion," "Rat Krespel" ["The Cremona Violin"], "Die Fermate," "Der Dichter und der Komponist," "Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde," "Der Artushof," "Die Bergwerke zu Falun," and "Nußknacker und Mausekönig" ["Nutcracker and Mouse-King"]; in volume 2, "Der Kampf der Sänger," "Eine Spukgeschichte," "Die Automate," "Doge und Dogaresse," "Alte und neue Kirchenmusik," "Meister Martin der Küfner und seine Gesellen" ["Master Martin and His Workmen"], and "Das fremde Kind" ["The Strange Child: A Fairy Tale"]; in volume 3, "Nachricht aus dem Leben eines bekannten Mannes," "Die Brautwahl," "Der unheimliche Gast," "Das Fräulein von Scuderi" ["Mademoiselle de Scuderi"], "Spielerglück," and "Baron von B."; and in volume 4, "Signor Formica" ["Signor Formica: A Tale, in Which Are Related Some of the Mad Pranks of Salvator Rosa and Don Pasquale Capuzzi"], "Erscheinungen," "Der Zusammenhang der Dinge," and "Die Königsbraut."
§This work includes, in volume 1, "Haimatochare," "Die Marquise de la Pivardiere," "Die Irrungen: Fragment aus dem Leben eines Fantasten," "Die Geheimnisse: Fortsetzung des Fragments aus dem Leben eines Fantasten," "Der Elementargeist" ["The Elementary Spirit"], and "Die Räuber: Abenteuer zweier Freunde auf einem Schlosse in Böhmen"; and in volume 2, "Die Doppeltgänger," "Datura fastuosa" ["The Datura Fastuosa: A Botanical Tale"], "Meister Johannes Wacht," "Des Vetters Eckfenster," and "Die Genesung: Fragment aus einem noch ungedruckten Werke."
║Also published with adaptations by Janet Schulman and illustrations by Kay Chorao in 1979; translation by Andrea Clark Madden and illustrations by Carter Goodrich in 1987; illustrations by Roberto Innocenti in 1996; by Janet Schulman with illustrations by Renée Graef in 1999; and adapted by Susanne Koppe with illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger in 2004.
Charles E. Passage (essay date 1971)
SOURCE: Passage, Charles E. "Introduction." In Three Marchen of E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Charles E. Passage, pp. vii-xxvii. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1971.
[In the following essay, Passage provides biographical information about Hoffmann; examines Little Zaches, Called Zinnober, Princess Brambilla, and Master Flea; and discusses Hoffmann's influence on later fantasy writers.]
Among literary traditions of the world, the literature composed in the English language has the greatest diversity of riches. But it has no Hoffmann. Nor any writer like him. The alleged parallels with Poe and Hawthorne are tenuous and his spirit is alien to them. Even within the realm of German letters he is unique.
For a century his works knew immense, though not quite universal, fame. In his native land he never lacked for admirers. Also, within a decade of his death the French had made a twenty-volume translation of his stories, to which Sir Walter Scott contributed the preface, and hardly a French Romantic but underwent his influence. In Russia it was the rage to read him in Russian translation, in French, or in the original German, especially in the years 1829-1835. Gogol produced some fine tales in the Hoffmannian manner before he grew petulant at the elusiveness of his model. Pushkin created The Queen of Spades on a Hoffmannian pattern, even though he claimed to disapprove of the pattern. Lermontov's fine but unfinished tale Shtoss is an ingenious reworking of a Hoffmannian theme. At least half a dozen lesser writers sought to synthesize the difficult Hoffmannian formula. Above all, Dostoevski, particularly in his early career, created new works by reducing Hoffmann's plots and characters to bare skeletons and then fleshing them up again with his own substance.
Musicians found the Tales evocative. Schumann sought to transfer Hoffmann's spirit into tone in two sets of piano pieces which reduplicate Hoffmannian titles, the Kreisleriana and the Fantasiestücke —the program notes to which are usually crammed with misinformation about the literary man. Wagner's Tannhäuser text reworks a Hoffmann story and Die Meistersinger represents an amalgam of Hoffmann's Nürnberg tales. Chaikovski's Nutcracker ballet enacts a Hoffmann Christmas story for children. Offenbach's opera, Contes d'Hoffmann, on the other hand, in spite of its charm, distorts three of the Tales to make its own three Acts, while its Prologue and Epilogue libellously misrepresent the author himself as an inept skirt-chaser, a cavorter with raucous students, and a sot.
In the twentieth century, Oswald Spengler cited Johannes Kreisler (the hero of the Kreisleriana and of Kater Murr and Hoffmann's alter ego), together with Faust and Don Juan as type figures for Western European civilization. Under Lenin's eyes in revolutionary Russia, one of the first Communist literary groups termed itself "The Serapion Brethren" in homage to the literary club to which Hoffmann belonged and which he portrayed in his most extensive collection of Tales.
By contrast, the Anglo-Saxon world remained unreceptive to Hoffmann's genius. Scott tended to admire him, but, perhaps on a cue from Goethe, cautioned against the Romantic unwholesomeness and wildness of the Tales. To Carlyle, Hoffmann was only one of several exponents of the interesting new German literature, and not the greatest of these. Both the two-volume translation of The Devil's Elixirs and the taste of the English reading public may be gauged by the comment of a Blackwood's Magazine reviewer in July of 1824, who claimed that Robert Pearce Gillies had "contrived to prune off all the indelicacy of his German original, without doing the smallest injury to the author's genius." Only minor works of English fiction owe any debt of influence to Hoffmann, save for Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, where the inspiration is perceptible but so diffused as to be undemonstrable. In America the case is hardly otherwise. Minor resemblances in Washington Irving are most likely coincidences. Hoffmannian echoes in Hawthorne's Feathertop and Monsieur du Miroir are faint, in Rappaccini's Daughter somewhat stronger. A Hoffmann-Poe connection has been debated in more than a hundred scholarly studies without arriving at a consensus, but the two authors are utterly dissimilar in spirit, as Dostoevski pointed out as long ago as 1861.
German enthusiasms in England and America during the latter nineteenth century were gentlemanly and philosophical and merely tolerated Hoffmann at the tail end of their canon. The infallibility of Goethe was an article of faith, and Goethe had complained of Hoffmann's corrupting the taste of a whole generation. In Germany itself Hoffmann came to be considered neither profound enough nor national enough after 1870 and the Tales were relegated to the status of mere entertainments of a bygone era. To that notion, English-speaking scholars tended to subscribe. A small work like Master Martin the Cooper might be edited for schools, anthologies of shorter pieces might appear and reappear in English, but the major items were consistently neglected. No comprehensive translation of Hoffmann was made before World War I, when most German literature moved into the penumbra of Anglo-Saxon distrust. No comprehensive translation has been attempted since then. And the genius of Hoffmann, like the genius of Balzac, seems slender and insubstantial until one reads in depth and the realization dawns that both are giants.
The decades since 1914 have not favored Romantic works, especially German Romantic works, and in those decades our author's name has declined to a legend of dim memory. Ignorance reports that he wrote ghost stories. In graduate study he is mentioned in passing. "Tales of Hoffmann" lingers as a catch phrase in the English language, but there are educated people who are not quite certain whether "Hoffmann" was an actual man or the hero of a forgotten continental romance.
The real man lived—from January 24, 1776, to June 25, 1822, and he was named Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann. At some point after 1808 he suppressed the Wilhelm in favor of Amadeus, out of veneration for Mozart. Intimates commonly called him Theodor, posterity cites him as "E. T. A. Hoffmann." His life was full, even hectic, but neither heroic nor particularly stage-worthy. In order to perceive the actual man and artist, layer upon layer of erroneous legend needs first to be stripped away, and no worse beginning can be made than to assume the historicity of Offenbach's preposterous opera hero.
He was born in the provincial city of Königsberg, a Baltic port of the once glorious Hanseatic League, in the northeast of German language territory. He always claimed to remember his gifted, if eccentric, father, who, when the boy was four years old, abandoned his wife of thirteen years, took his older son Karl with him, and migrated to another East Prussian town. Thus it was in his maternal grandmother's house in the Junkerstrasse, and not in the house of his birth, that the lad grew up. Life was cheerless at Grandmother Doerffer's, not from poverty, but from boredom, from stuffiness, and above all from the oddity of the household. The matriarch never left her room, where she brooded over her daughter's divorce and the decline of family prestige. The mother, who had never wanted to marry her first cousin in the first place, aspired to no second marriage and lived, sickly and frail, unto herself alone, even to taking her meals in the privacy of her room. Uncle Otto Wilhelm Doerffer was past forty, a bachelor, and a pompous bore, who often emerged sullen and humiliated from dressings-down by the matriarch. The latter assigned him and the boy to a single room and treated them both as small children. "O. W."—pronounced in German "O Weh!" (O woe!)—was also the boy's first teacher. Two maternal aunts offered all the affection, warmth, and mirth in the family. Guests never came. Upstairs lived Frau Werner, a raving lunatic who believed she was the Virgin Mary and her son the Messiah. The latter, five years older than young Hoffmann, was Zacharias Werner, the future writer of Romantic melodramas.
As a child, our author was already cast in the mold of looks and personality that were to be his through life. He was small, ill-favored, with thin lips pressed tight and with an alarmingly scant margin of forehead. Vivid in speech and sharp of wit, he was precocious at schoolwork, music, and drawing, and utterly devoted to a very few chosen friends. Of these, the most important was Theodor Hippel, a lad of the same age, who had been selected by the family to be young Hoffmann's playmate and studying companion on Wednesday afternoons, subsequently on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons. "O. W." went for a long walk on those days to leave the boys the privacy of the room.
At age sixteen Hoffmann was a good organist and pianist and would gladly have begun a musical career, had not the family council determined on law. From 1792 to 1795, he dutifully studied law at the University of Königsberg, and did well at it. In his spare time he enjoyed Hippel's company, wrote three novels (all happily lost), gave music lessons, composed, wallowed in a hopeless love affair with a married lady who was one of his music pupils, read widely, and submitted to the home regime. He never attended a single lecture by the university's most renowned professor, Immanuel Kant.
By decree of the family council he was exported in the summer of 1796 to Glogau, seventy-eight miles away, to live with cousins and to seek a government post. The Doerffers of Glogau undertook to offset his infatuation with the married lady by engaging him to their daughter Minna. Dutifully, Hoffmann submitted. But a trip to Berlin with his uncle resulted in a government appointment in Posen, in Prussian Poland, and the engagement to Minna was eventually broken off. In Posen he dutifully performed his legal tasks, but he was restless. He struck a cynical pose, indulged in pranks and Don Juan escapades. At carnival time in 1802, he became involved in a petty social cabale, his contribution to the mischief being a set of caricatures of General von Zastrow. Complaints were made, even to the royal throne in Berlin, and two months later the prankster was banished to a dismal hinterland post at Plock. Among two thousand Polish Catholics and one thousand Polish Jews, with a thankless job, a surly chief, and mail twice a week, the young lawyer existed on letters from friends, on his composing, and on the string quartet he had organized. Almost as a counsel of despair, he accepted the advice of a well-wishing lady and married a local girl. His bride, "Misha," was Polish, Catholic, nineteen years old, utterly uninterested in the arts, and completely devoted to her husband. Her love was necessarily strong in order to survive his long years of indifference toward her.
Through the help of Hippel and other friends, a transfer was effected to a post in Warsaw. In 1805, a daughter was born. Briefly there was the prospect of conventional domesticity, coupled with association with musicians and literati. But on November 28, 1806, Napoleon arrived in Warsaw. The Prussian government was dissolved, his job and income vanished, his wife and daughter had to be sent to relatives in Posen, and the thirty-one-year-old official had to cast about for a livelihood. Even the Warsaw Music Academy, which he had helped to found, was dissolved. He went to Berlin, but Berlin was swarming with men in precisely his circumstances. For a time he worked at odd commissions for book illustrations. From Posen came word that his little daughter had died and that Misha was seriously ill.
Desperation in the summer of 1807 caused him to insert the following advertisement in the Allgemeiner Reichsanzeiger:
A person who is fully experienced in the theoretical and practical aspects of music, who has himself turned out significant compositions that have met with success, and who has until now been Director of an important musical institution, desires, since he has lost his position through the war, employment as director in some theater or private orchestra. 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. 179.
The talents were justly claimed, though the experience was slightly exaggerated. Hoffmann's musical publications up to 1807 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, 1808, 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, 1808-1813, 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. Gröpel of Hamburg, a wealthy merchant, a boor, and the winner of Julia's hand. On September 6, 1812, the brutal denouement came.
Friends accompanied the engaged couple to a rural inn for celebration. The fiancé became tipsy and lascivious—the Leech Prince was pawing the Princess Gamaheh—and Hoffmann's tormented fury broke like a storm. A table was overturned and over the slobbering but still conscious Mr. Gröpel, Hoffmann vented the full hatred of his soul upon the conniving mother. 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." Julia married Gröpel in December, and before Hoffmann left Bamberg in April of 1813, he learned that she was to be a mother.
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. 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. Financially he survived first on a loan from Hippel, whom he had by fantastic chance encountered in the beleaguered city, and then, just at starvation's edge, on money accruing from the estate of the deceased relatives in Königsberg.
Through the adventures and misadventures of 1814, Hoffmann continued writing. Two thin volumes of the Fantasy Pieces in the Style of Callot appeared in print for Easter; a third volume, containing only the long Märchen entitled The Golden Pot, followed in the fall; the fourth and last volume of the set appeared in the spring of 1815. 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, 1814, Hoffmann entered upon his new duties in Berlin.
The seven Berlin years, 1814-1822, the seven last years of his life, saw the emergence of the Hoffmann known to posterity, the "essential Hoffmann." Characteristically, that figure had two sharply contrasting aspects. By day, Counselor Hoffmann, dressed in the uniform of the Prussian civil service, worked in the criminal prosecutions section of the Ministry of Justice. Evenings might find him at the theater, in the concert hall, in a café with a group of intimates who called themselves "the Serapion Brethren," or, especially in the final years, at Lutter & Wegner's tavern in the company of the Shakespearean actor Ludwig Devrient and other cronies. 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 1815, 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.
The stories were written rapidly but not carelessly. There was conscientious "labor of the file." Hoffmann wrote for popular magazines and his public was as insatiable as that of Sherlock Holmes. 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 1816, 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, 1819; Princess Brambilla, written and published in 1820; and Master Flea, begun in the summer of 1821, completed by dictation from the author's deathbed, and published in April of 1822, 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. His few individualizing traits were derived from Hoffmann's fellow Romanticist, Adalbert von Chamisso, that fascinating French émigré turned Prussian aristocrat and Berliner, that world traveler, botanist, poet, and kindly personality. 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 1819, readers might well feel the chill of 1789 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 1820; 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 1820 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, 1820, one of the Serapion faithful, Dr. J. F. Koreff, presented Hoffmann with reproductions of a set of engravings by Jacques Callot (1592-1635). 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.e., "paintings") in the Style of Callot, and he profoundly admired the plays of Carlo Gozzi, which may be described as specimens of the old impromptu Commedia, artistically heightened by a fixed text in verse and by superb poetic invention. 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. Eliminated too are Callot's neat captions—"Scapino & Cap. Zerbino," "Riciulina & Metzetin," etc., and in their stead is a suggestion of turf for the Commedia figures to stand on. 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 1820, 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!"—a vain matinee idol so corrupted by his success in bad neoclassical tragedies that he poses, struts, rants, and orates off-stage as on-stage, until he is a caricature of his princely roles, which are in turn caricatures of real art and real life. 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. Much of the time Prince Bastianello di Pistoja appears as the "mountebank" Celionati ("heaven-born"), and in this latter guise conducts discussions on the theory of humor and irony with the German students in the Caffè Greco. 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." That Giacinta plies her trade in the new cause may be inferred from her receiving similar pay from Master Bescapi. (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." Master Bescapi's "creative needle" may serve to puncture bombast.
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 1760'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 1908, 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 (1769-1849), Director of Police and second in charge under K. F. von Schuckmann, Minister of the Interior. 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 1820 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 1821, 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 rumor soon reached Kamptz himself, who took steps to have the government subpoena the manuscript from Wilmans Brothers, the publishers in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, a free city quite outside of Prussian jurisdiction. 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—————————!" All the same, illness and expenses made it urgent to get the story published in order to receive pay for it. 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 1822, Wilmans published from a transcript. The original manuscript with the Knarrpanti sections remained in the government files to be discovered by scholars in 1908.
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, 1822, 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. 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. 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 1820, 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. Dörtje Elverdink is a Dostoevskian heroine before the fact, much as the Lämmerhirt family is Dickensian before Dickens, and in one brief scene in Chapter Six she anticipates both Grushenka and Nastasya Filippovna. The consummation of passion between Dörtje and George is a tremendous flight of fancy, a Liebestod which manages to be simultaneously funny, tragic, and beautiful. 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." But Heine also damned the remainder of the work as much as he had praised Princess Brambilla. 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." In other words, he had heard rumors of the Knarrpanti episode, expected social and political satire, and felt cheated.
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 1822: "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." The praise is grudging and head-shaking. Of the author five years dead, Goethe wrote in 1827:
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.
Note on the English Translations of the Three Märchen
Little Zaches appeared in English under the title of Little Zack in E. T. A. Hoffmann's Fairy Tales, Boston, 1857, 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."
Princess Brambilla has had no English version prior to the present one.
Master Flea appeared in English under the title of Master Flea in Volume II of Specimens of German Romance, London, 1826, as translated by George Soane.
James M. McGlathery (essay date 1997)
SOURCE: McGlathery, James M. "The Seven Fairy Tales." In E. T. A. Hoffmann, pp. 113-32. New York, N.Y.: Twayne Publishers, 1997.
[In the following essay, McGlathery offers a critical overview of seven of Hoffmann's fairy tales, or Märchen—The Golden Pot, "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," "The Strange Child," "Little Zaches, Called Zinnober," Princess Brambilla, "The King's Bride," and Master Flea.]
Hoffmann considered seven of his stories to belong to a particular genre, the Märchen or fairy tale. 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.
This establishment of the magical realm against a familiar, everyday world is a basic distinguishing feature between Hoffmann's Märchen and other artistic fairy tales, or Kunstmärchen, on the one hand, and literary folk fairy tales, or Volksmärchen, on the other. The Märchen in Goethe's Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten (Conversations of German Emigrants, 1795) and Klingsohr's Märchen in Novalis's Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1802) both are set wholly in magical realms so that the action may convey an entirely allegorical or symbolic import. In Ludwig Tieck's stories with magical elements, notably "Der blonde Eckbert" ("Blond Eckbert," 1797), "Der Runenberg" ("The Rune Mountain," 1802), and "Die Elfen" ("The Elves," 1811), 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, 1812).
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. Thus, in Fouqué's Undine (1811)—which was a major influence otherwise on Hoffmann's first Märchen, Der goldne Topf, and out of which he and Fouqué created an opera—the mermaid heroine is a creature from the realm of elemental spirits in search of a soul. However, little else about that realm as such is related or depicted. Meanwhile, in Chamisso's Peter Schlemihl (1814) the supernatural power is the Christian devil; and in Joseph von Eichendorff's "Das Marmorbild" (1819) 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. 1575-1632), Charles Perrault (1628-1703), and the Grimm brothers Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859), the action is set not in a magical realm but in the more familiar world of everyday experience—in which magical happenings occur. In contrast to Hoffmann's Märchen, there is no story within the story to explain or describe the existence of a spirit world. 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.
A chief difference between Hoffmann's Märchen and the literary folk fairy tale is the surprise, awe, or anxiety registered by the characters when confronted by emanations from the spirit realm. 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.
Registering anxiety in the face of seemingly transcendental experiences is not a feature separating Hoffmann's Märchen from his other fiction, however. As we have seen, the characters in his tales not uncommonly fear for their sanity in connection with their encounters with a spirit realm. This feature, indeed, is the one Hoffmann's Märchen have most in common with Tieck's, Fouqué's, Chamisso's, and Eichendorff's magical tales referred to earlier. In Hoffmann's Märchen, however, as opposed to his other tales and to the magical or fantastic tales of his German Romantic contemporaries, there is a manifest requirement that, as in the literary folk fairy tale, the ending be a happy one in which good triumphs over evil.1
The magical realm in Hoffmann's first Märchen, Der goldne Topf (completed March 1814; published fall 1814 as the third of the four volumes of Fantasiestücke ), is that found in Fouqué's Undine, namely the realm of elemental spirits. 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.2
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.3 Lindhorst's interest in Anselmus, as we have seen, is to wed him to Serpentina so that he will then have only two daughters to marry off before being allowed to return to his spirit homeland. 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.4 Finally, Frau Rauerin makes a last attempt to prevent Anselmus's union with Serpentina when she battles Lindhorst in his library as Anselmus watches from inside a glass bottle on the shelf. 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!" FuN, [Fantasie-und Nachtstücke ] 179) may be understood as not a curse but a prophecy of the outcome Frau Rauerin seeks but that fails to happen. 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. To the bewilderment of her father and her fiancé Heerbrand, she reports that Anselmus has married the green snake who is "much more beautiful and richer" than she (FuN, 249). Most significant, though, is that as a token of her forswearing of any further employment of satanic arts, she asks her fiancé to deposit the fragments of her little metal mirror in the Elbe River from the bridge. 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.5
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?" (FuN, 255)—may be answered in the affirmative as well as in the expected negative. 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.6
The magical realm in Hoffmann's second fairy tale, "Nußknacker und Mausekönig" ("The Nutcracker and the King of Mice," completed November 1816; published fall 1816 in the volume of Kinder-Mährchen by Fouqué, Hoffmann, and Contessa; then in Die Serapionsbrüder, vol. 1), is that in which the events related in literary folk fairy tales take place. 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. Seven-year-old Marie Stahlbaum hears the "Märchen von der harten Nuß" ("Fairy Tale about the Hard Nut") from her godfather Droßelmeier as she is recovering from a nasty cut she received when she fell against a glass cabinet in her parents' living room. 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.
On hearing from Marie about her magical adventure, Godfather Droßelmeier tells her a story in which it is revealed that the nutcracker doll is really his nephew who even before his transformation possessed an uncanny ability for cracking hard nuts with his teeth. 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. Droßelmeier's nephew was transformed into an ugly nutcracker doll by Frau Mauserinks when, after having restored Princess Pirlipat's beauty by cracking a notoriously hard nut named Krakatuk, he rendered himself vulnerable to that evil spell by failing to fulfill the last requirement, that after having restored the princess's beauty he take seven steps backward before looking up at her.
Strikingly, Droßelmeier's tale includes Droßelmeier himself and casts the nutcracker as his handsome young nephew. 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. Droßelmeier teasingly asked how Marie could possibly take such an ugly creature into her devoted care, whereupon she asked whether the godfather, if he were done up so nicely as the nutcracker doll, would look as good. In the tale he tells, Droßelmeier's role is first to find the hard nut and then to discover, in the nephew, someone who can crack it. The nephew's role is the romantic one of the handsome young man who rescues a beautiful princess from an evil spell. In Princess Pirlipat, Droßelmeier provides a role with which Marie can identify in a negative way. The princess refuses to wed young Droßelmeier when she sees that he has been turned into an ugly nutcracker doll. 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.7
Marie's role as angel of rescue was suggested to Godfather Droßelmeier in part by his having seen how, on Christmas Eve, the goddaughter took the nutcracker into her care when her brother had broken the doll's jaw by using it to crack a nut that was too big and hard. 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.8
After hearing her godfather's fairy tale about the hard nut, in which it is told that her nutcracker is Droßelmeier's nephew, Marie is hesitant to pick up the doll, which she now sees as a handsome young man. 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. Her identification with Princess Pirlipat from her godfather's tale is then revealed when she talks out loud to herself one day about how, if she were Pirlipat, she would not reject young Droßelmeier because he has been turned into an ugly nutcracker doll.9
It is that declaration by seven-year-old Marie about the difference between herself and Princess Pirlipat that brings about the fairy-tale ending in which young Droßelmeier appears at her father's door to ask for her hand in marriage. The godfather's nephew explains that her declaration has just restored him to human form. That declaration of love for the ugly nutcracker doll, at the same time, produced a loud cry from Godfather Droßelmeier, who at that moment was in the living room with Marie working on the family's clock. There resulted an explosive jolt as well that caused Marie to fall off her chair in a faint, from which she recovers to learn that young Droßelmeier is at the door wishing to see her.
Hoffmann's readers are left to ponder the connection between the goddaughter's declaration of love for "Dear Mr. Droßelmeier," as she addresses the nutcracker in her reverie; the godfather's reaction; and the nephew's magical arrival. Since the nephew entered Marie's imagination as a character in the godfather's tale, we are perhaps to understand that the godfather's excitement over Marie's declaration of love to "Herr Droßelmeier" results from his embarrassed delight that he has indeed succeeded in getting the adored goddaughter to fantasize about marriage to the imaginary nephew who embodies for the godfather a younger, handsome self.10
As we have seen, the magical realm to which Marie is introduced in "Nußknacker und Mausekönig" is a romantic fantasy of her own making partly inspired by the tale told to her by her adoring godfather Droßelmeier. In all likelihood, the name Droßelmeier, as well as the story's inciting incident, was inspired by the Grimm fairy tale "König Droßelbart" (no. 52) in which a young king tames the pride of a haughty princess after she has rejected him as insufficiently handsome, ridiculing his chin and beard as making him look like a bird, the Droßel, or thrush. In Hoffmann's next tale, "Das fremde Kind" for the following year's volume of Kinder-Mährchen by Contessa, Fouqué, and Hoffmann (then included in Die Serapionsbrüder, vol. 2), the fantastic adventures of little Felix and Christlieb owe their inspiration to pious tales for children like those appended by the Grimm brothers at the end of their Kinderund Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales, 1812; 1815; see seventh, definitive edition of 1857). 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. As the father reveals to Felix and Christlieb shortly before his death, when he was their age the Strange Child appeared to him as well. What Thaddeus von Brakel is saying to them is perhaps that he understands their sorrow at the prospect of leaving their childhood behind. The father's ensuing death can be seen as having been hastened by feelings of guilt that he had not provided better for his family and the recognition that his failure had resulted from his own reluctance to bid farewell to childhood bliss.
Following the father's death, hard-hearted Cousin Cyprianus chases Thaddeus's widow and the children from their estate. When their mother collapses on a bridge as they are on their way to seek refuge with other relatives, the Strange Child appears once more to Felix and Christlieb to comfort them. That last appearance of the magical playmate may be understood as a final indication that their encounters with the Strange Child are fantasies engendered by their emotional crisis.
The magical realm depicted in Hoffmann's fourth Märchen, Klein Zaches genannt Zinnober (Little Zachary Named Cinnabar, completed November 1818; published late 1818 or early 1819), is that of the French conte des fées, from which our English name for the genre of fairy tale comes. The worker of magic is a fairy, Rosabelverde (alias Canoness Rosengrünschön), reminiscent of such figures as the fairy godmother in "Cinderella," in particular the French version by Perrault. Here, however, the fairy has taken pity not on a beautiful girl being mistreated by her stepmother but on an ugly changeling who has been rejected by his own birth mother, a poor peasant woman.11 Rosabelverde's magic being insufficient to transform Little Zachary into a handsome young fellow, she has to settle for providing his originally bald head with three magical hairs that will cause people to believe he has all the positive attributes and accomplishments of those around him. Since Little Zachary cannot be beautiful, wonderful, and successful in his own right, the fairy endows him with the automatic ability to "deck oneself out in foreign plumes" (sich mit fremden Federn schmücken), meaning to plagiarize, in this case in an extended sense.12
Little Zachary, although he has the title role, is not the central figure in the story. Indeed, he is inwardly at least as revolting as is his outer appearance. Our interest is chiefly directed instead toward a handsome dreamy youth, Balthasar, a student at the—imaginary—University of Kerepes. The gnomish changeling enters Balthasar's life on the very day Balthasar's friend and fellow student Fabian has accused him of being in love with pretty Candida, the daughter of their science professor Mosch Terpin. It is not until the next afternoon, however, that Little Zachary's magical hairs come into play. The occasion is a tea at the professor's house at which Balthasar has mustered the courage to admit to himself that he is in love with Candida and to confess that love in a poem he recites. When he finishes the recitation, the praise of those present is heaped not on him but on the ugly little changeling instead, of whom Candida becomes instantly enamored and whom the professor welcomes as his prospective son-in-law.
In his lover's dismay and disappointment, Balthasar himself finds access to the realm of magic in the sorcerer Prosper Alpanus, like Rosabelverde a character from the pages of French contes des fées such as those of Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Countess d'Aulnoy (ca. 1650-1705). Alpanus and Rosabelverde test their magical powers against each other when they sit down together for coffee. As a result of the fairy's visit to him, Alpanus is able to provide Balthasar with the magical means to defeat the spell that Little Zachary has worked on Candida, her father, and everyone else who has come into contact with him. Balthasar is thus able to wed his beloved, while her father is dismayed that Little Zachary, who seemed such a good match for the daughter and a benefactor for himself, has been unmasked as an impostor, so to speak.
The magical business in Klein Zaches clearly is a vehicle for Hoffmann to indulge in humorous if also occasionally biting satire on greed, false ambition, corruptibility, and vanity in contemporary life.13 At the same time, the magical happenings can be seen as involving romantic fantasy as well. Particularly striking in this regard is that as soon as Balthasar has had to admit to himself that he is in love with Candida, a magical rival for her arrives on the scene in the person of Little Zachary. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the magic of the changeling's hairs comes most strikingly into play at the moment when Balthasar is confessing that love to Candida with his poem. Balthasar's public rather than private declaration of love suggests either that by confessing it publicly he feels less likely to be rejected or that winning applause for the poem is his primary goal or both. Little Zachary's receiving the applause and thereby winning the girl's devotion can be understood as a magical fulfillment of what Balthasar was after, an indication that flattering his vanity was the overriding passion. Only when Balthasar finds himself rejected in favor of the ugly changeling does he seem spurred to ardent passion as opposed to vanity; this quality is found in a number of the younger bachelors in Hoffmann's tales and is not unrelated to their flight from erotic attraction into fantasy.
The same connection between vanity and sublimation of desire can be seen in Balthasar's rushing from Mosch Terpin's lectures on science out to the forest to commune with nature. In the lectures, Balthasar was horrified at the professor's probing into nature's sacred mysteries. At the same time, he was hiding from himself his attraction to the professor's pretty daughter. We can imagine that in the dreamy young student's unconscious the professor's way of relating to nature was associated with fantasies about how Mosch Terpin, as widower father, related to the creature of nature, his pretty daughter, in his own household. What Balthasar was repressing, in any case, was awareness of a desire to live with Candida himself as her husband.14
A young man's vanity as reflecting flight from desire is more clearly the subject of Hoffmann's next fairy tale, Prinzessin Brambilla (Princess Brambilla, completed 1820; published fall 1820, with the date 1821). In Rome, the pretty Italian seamstress Giacinta Soardi has set her cap on marrying her longtime boyfriend, the actor Giglio Fava, whose vanity is an obstacle to that aim. He admires and adores himself so much in his roles as languishing lover on stage that he continues the same role off-stage, rendering him unfit to become a bridegroom and husband. Giglio's vanity leads to his involvement with a magical realm reminiscent of The Arabian Nights and French contes merveilleux inspired by it, such as Anthony Hamilton's (1645-1719) Les quatre Facardins (1715), as well as mythical representations of the Creation such as those of the mystical nature philosopher (natur-philosoph) Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert. Thus, Giglio becomes passionately enamored of a magical princess named Brambilla, who in turn stands in symbolic relationship with a mythical Queen Mystilis.15
Queen Mystilis is born in a primeval spring (the Urdarquelle), the same body of water into which King Ophioch and his queen Liris had looked in order to cure his melancholy and her compulsive laughter by seeing their inverted reflections in the water. Mystilis seems to be the product in some way of those cures, which were followed by the king and queen finding happiness in their marriage for the first time and repairing to bed together. After Ophioch and Liris had died, Mystilis emerged from the lake as a baby girl whose immediate compulsive passion for making nets resulted in her being turned into a porcelain doll. The breaking of that evil spell is dependent on finding an "I" or self who can create its "not-I." In the end, it is the actor Giglio who achieves that feat. Through his action the spell on Queen Mystilis is broken, and she grows instantly to the gigantic proportions of an earth or nature goddess.
Princess Brambilla, meanwhile, is out to marry the Assyrian prince Cornelio Chiapperi, who in turn ardently wishes to marry her. The obstacle to that union is the actor Giglio, who is in love with Brambilla and ultimately convinces himself that he is Chiapperi and has slain Giglio. The problem for Giglio, though, is that he finds himself unable to distinguish the exotic beloved Brambilla from the pretty seamstress Giacinta. In the end, he simply has to give up and surrender himself to "Princess Brambilla," even if he cannot be sure that the beautiful beloved in question is not Giacinta instead. As it turns out, the girl of his dreams is indeed Giacinta and has been so all along.16
For her part, Giacinta has an exotic man of her dreams, as well, namely the same Assyrian prince Cornelio Chiapperi of whom Giglio's dream beloved Brambilla is enamored. Giacinta accepts Giglio as her bridegroom only after he has turned himself into Chiapperi by doing away with Giglio in a duel—that is, by believing that he has done so in acting out such combat. Actually Giacinta, as Brambilla, has required of Giglio that he cease playing the languishing stage lover that so flatters his vanity, as outwardly manifested by his dress as a stage prince, and embrace instead the role of comedian, by donning ludicrous attire appropriate to the role of the captain in the commedia dell'arte.17 As Giglio comes to recognize, the only way he can cure himself of the "dualism" regarding himself and the girl of his dreams is for his "I" to create its "not-I," in other words for the stage lover Giglio to turn himself into a comedian. In the end Giglio becomes a bridegroom and husband. To his former vain bachelor self such a development perhaps was equated, unconsciously, with the dreaded prospect of becoming a comedian. Out of fear of being caught by Giacinta he escaped into fantasies about her imaginary look-alike Brambilla. His double identity suggests as much, Giglio meaning lily in Italian and Chiapperi being a name made from the verb for being caught or trapped (chiappere).18
Ultimately, Giglio is of course trapped by his own romantic attraction to Giacinta as sublimated in fantasies about Princess Brambilla. Giacinta is aided in catching Giglio, however, by two older men, the theater impresario Celionati and his friend Ruffiamonte, helped in turn by the theater tailor Bescapi and Giacinta's old housekeeper Beatrice. Celionati and Ruffiamonte bring Giglio to the point of proposing marriage to Giacinta; their names, indeed, may be understood as indicating that role, Celionati suggesting a meaning in Italian such as born of heaven or born of jest, recalling perhaps depictions of Cupid as a roguish winged infant in eighteenth-century rococo paintings, and Ruffiamonte suggesting connection with Italian ruffiano (pimp or go-between). Bescapi's role as tailor is to aid in getting Giglio to dress as a comedian instead of a romantic tragedian as part of the process of rendering him fit to wed Giacinta. Beatrice, as her name meaning "she who makes happy" suggests, is Giacinta's confidante and helper in affairs of the heart, a stock role for older women in traditional comedy as reflected for example in that of the procuress (ruffiana) in the commedia dell'arte.
It is Celionati, together with Ruffiamonte, who relates the mythical story about King Ophioch, Queen Liris, and the Urdarquelle that culminates in Mystilis's transformation into a porcelain doll because of her compulsive net making. Breaking that spell requires capturing a motley bird in nets the ladies in Celionati's Pistoja Palace have made, together with successful creation by an "I" of its "not-I." In the end, it is Giglio of course who fulfills those requirements, while Giacinta is identified not only with the imaginary Brambilla but also with the mythical Mystilis. Like Mystilis, we are presumably to understand, Giacinta was programmed from birth, that is biologically, to snare a man in her nets. By the same token, we may imagine, Giglio was destined willy-nilly, or biologically, to become a prisoner of Giacinta's and his own desire (the prisoner of love having been represented in emblematic tradition of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries as a bird in a cage). In the doting eyes of the middle-aged bachelors Celionati and Ruffiamonte, Giacinta is an incarnation of the goddess of love, to judge from their fantasy about Queen Mystilis and her explosive swelling to cosmic proportions upon Giglio's surrender to desire for the pretty seamstress.19
With the capriccio Prinzessin Brambilla, as with the novella "Signor Formica" written the year before, Hoffmann sought to make clear to his readers his aim of combining Italian humor, as exemplified in Boccaccio's Decameron and in the commedia dell'arte, with German humor, especially its inclination to veiled irony. To that end, in Prinzessin Brambilla Hoffmann has Celionati engage in discussions of humor, at the Cafe Greco, with a German artist friend Reinhold and other German painters living in Rome. For Celionati the danger is that Germans will be too serious minded to understand the ironic jest involved in his project of getting Giglio to the altar with Giacinta. In the end, Celionati's idea of humor is fulfilled in Giglio and Giacinta's jesting about courtship and marriage, both as a team performing on stage in the commedia dell'arte and in their lives offstage as a happily married couple.20
Like Prinzessin Brambilla, Hoffmann's next to last fairy tale, "Die Königsbraut" ("The King's Bride," written spring 1821; published toward the end of that year in Die Serapionsbrüder, vol. 4), concerns a young man whose vanity, in this case his imagining himself to be a poet, stands in the way of his marrying. The young man in question, Amandus von Nebelstern, is not the central figure, however. Instead, it is his intended, Anna von Zabelthau, who for her part becomes enthralled by a magical creature. Anna's fantastic adventure follows upon her discovering in her vegetable garden to which she is uncommonly devoted a carrot that has grown through a ring. Reacting to her widower father's claim that the unusual find means that an elemental spirit, an earth sprite, wishes to court her, Anna prefers to believe that the suitor is instead one Daucus Carota, who is king in the realm of vegetables.
The widower father's interpretation of his daughter's finding results from his preoccupation with literature about elemental spirits. His devotion to that study concerns his hope that he might sufficiently purify himself of all baser desires to dare to marry an air sprite or sylph. The father, Dapsul von Zabelthau, at first warns Anna about her having become the object of a gnome's attentions, earth sprites being the basest of the elemental spirits. Once Dapsul has met Daucus Carota, however, he changes his mind and warms to the idea that he and his daughter might simultaneously marry elemental spirits in a double wedding. Bothered though by Anna's contrary belief that Daucus Carota is not the gnome Corduanspitz, but instead the Vegetable King, Dapsul seeks to disenchant her by unmasking Daucus for her as writhing in a cesspool of filth and ugliness. When Dapsul then tries to do away with the unwanted carrot-shaped suitor entirely by cooking him in a pot in Anna's kitchen, the result is her transformation into a carrot and the father into a poisonous mushroom. She and her father remain transformed until the carrot suitor who has retreated to his underground realm beckons for her to put the ring back on him by pushing his carrot tip up through the ground. Therewith the original situation is restored and Anna's magical adventure ends.
What then of Anna's young neighbor, Amandus von Nebelstern, whom she wanted to marry before her discovery of the carrot grown through the ring? The carrot appeared after Amandus had left to study at the university and Anna had written to him that her father had no objection to their marrying. The reply she received from Amandus, with whom she had not previously raised the subject of marriage, was not as she wished, he seeming to be completely consumed with fancying himself a poet. Worse still, even when Anna writes to inform Amandus that she has met and fallen in love with Daucus Carota and plans to wed him instead, Amandus does not rush home and rid himself of the rival. In the end, he returns only in response to Anna's call for him to rescue her from Daucus, whom she now portrays to him as an evil sorcerer. Instead of saving Anna, however, Amandus on his return strikes up a friendship with Daucus, who holds out to him the prospect of becoming his court poet. Anna succeeds in landing Amandus as her bridegroom only after, faced with Amandus's recital of his poetry, Daucus has fled to his underground realm, Anna has returned the ring to him, and Amandus has been cured of fancying himself a poet as a result of Anna's inadvertently hitting him in the head with her garden spade.
Hoffmann's readers are left to wonder what is signified by Anna's adventure with the carrot. Finding in her kitchen garden a carrot grown through a ring would understandably delight a girl who since childhood has been a passionate gardener.21 The find, though, happens when Anna, at 16, has reached marriageable age, is entertaining thoughts of wedding the neighbor boy Amandus, and has just had cold water thrown on that desire by his letter in response to her overtures. Her dream of marrying, we may understand, is reflected in the carrot with the ring around it. The carrot calls to mind the ring finger with a wedding ring on it as token of the physical and spiritual consummation of the union.
Dapsul's parallel dream of marrying a sylph may be understood as related to his situation as widower father to a pretty daughter who has reached marriageable age. At the outset, when Anna goes to her father about her desire to marry Amandus, he speaks darkly about a danger or peril that Amandus must confront if he is to wed her. Nonetheless, Dapsul seems to accept the inevitability of their union when he humorously remarks that since her intended's name is a Latin gerund, Amandus clearly is "one who in this matter shall and must" (SB, 952). At the same time, Dapsul speaks as though the thing is one of indifference to him, asking only that Anna inform him of the wedding date.
Once Anna has found the carrot with the ring in her garden, Dapsul is quick to see in her discovery a confirmation of his foretelling that Amandus would have to overcome some peril if he is to wed Anna. When Dapsul now identifies that peril as the desire of a gnome to wed her, he is interpreting the carrot with the ring around it in connection with his dream of wedding an elemental spirit himself. It is perhaps not amiss to infer that Dapsul's dream of marrying a sprite is a sublimation engendered by an embarrassed, repressed romantic infatuation with his nubile daughter. Seen this way, Dapsul's interpretation of Anna's find as indicating an earth sprite wants to wed her suggests perhaps his guilt over that gnomish urge in himself, an interpretation that is all the more likely considering that the ring around the carrot may be the one, so we learn, that Dapsul gave her when she was a little girl. Dapsul's gnomish guilt may be reflected, too, in his subsequent identification of the carrot as "Tsilmenech" alias "Corduanspitz," an earth sprite who reputedly was able purify himself sufficiently to maintain a spiritual union in Cordova, Spain, with the abbess Magdalena de la Croix from her 12th year (the onset of her nubility?) onward. By contrast, while Dapsul is able to refrain from eating breakfast in his effort to purify himself of baser urges so that he might dare to wed his sylph "Nehahilah," his resolve always weakens by the time of the noon meal, which he takes with his pretty daughter.22
The miraculous realm in the last of Hoffmann's seven fairy tales, Meister Floh (Master Flea, completed March 1822 and published that same spring), is of a mythical, primeval sort. A leech prince kisses the beautiful Princess Gemaheh on the neck with a bloodsucking bite as she lies sleeping at Famagusta (on Cyprus, where famous temples to the Greek love goddess Aphrodite are located). The princess dies as a result of the bite, and her corpse is carried away through the air by the Genius Thetel. Two Dutch scientists, Leuwenhoeck and Swammerdamm, observe her abduction through their telescopes, then rediscover her in a tulip with their microscopes. They revive her with the bite of a flea, on whose bites she then is dependent for remaining alive. Master Flea, however, escapes from Leuwenhoeck's flea circus, whereupon Leuwenhoeck attempts to recapture him, while Princess Gemaheh, in her alias as the magical Dutch beauty Dörtje Elwerdink, tries to gain possession of Master Flea herself to be independent of Leuwenhoeck. Because Master Flea has sought refuge with a rich bachelor in Frankfurt am Main, Gemaheh alias Dörtje tries to seduce the bachelor in order to seize the flea.
Hoffmann focuses our interest, however, not on the magical princess or the magical flea but on the 36-year-old bachelor Peregrinus Tyß. We meet him at the outset as he eagerly waits on Christmas Eve for his housekeeper and former nursemaid to finish preparing his Christmas tree and the toys that he has spent the day buying for himself. After he has had a chance to play with the toys, just as he did when he was a child, he packs them up and delivers them, as he does every Christmas Eve, to a poor family with young children. While he is on this charitable errand the seductively beautiful magical princess Gemaheh alias Dörtje enters his life, fainting in his arms and begging him to carry her to her lodgings. To Peregrinus's panicked astonishment, home for her means his own house. Unknowingly, Peregrinus had brought Master Flea home in one of the toys he purchased for his Christmas. Dörtje, perceiving this, contrives to get Peregrinus to bring her home in hopes that she might manage to gain possession of the life-sustaining flea. The middle-aged bachelor's ensuing involvement with the seductive beauty concerns her continuing efforts to capture him and his protégé Master Flea. In the end, Peregrinus is saved from succumbing to Dörtje's charms by meeting and falling in love with the daughter of the poor couple to whom he had brought the toys that Christmas Eve, Röschen Lämmerhirt.23
Peregrinus is helped in avoiding Dörtje's snares by the interventions of a friend from his student days at the University of Jena, George Pepusch, who is himself in love with Dörtje. Pepusch's attraction to her has primeval origins, in view of his mythical identity as the Thistle Zeherit, he having fallen in love with her in her mythical identity as Princess Gamaheh. More recently, Pepusch's passion for the magical beauty is owing to his infatuation with her as a singer in Leuwenhoeck's flea circus, a singer whose popularity resulted in her being given the name Aline, Queen of Golconda, the heroine in a then-popular opera of the same name by Henri Montan Berton (1767-1844; Aline, Reine de Golconde, 1803). Whenever it seems that Dörtje (alias Gamaheh alias Aline) is about to have her way with Peregrinus, Pepusch arrives as if on cue to lay claim to her. Pepusch indeed wins Dörtje in the end. On the morning after Peregrinus and Röschen's wedding night, they find Dörtje, as a Dutch tulip, wound around Pepusch's wilted blossom as a cactus grandiflorus. Now in no danger of being captured since Dörtje-Gemaheh is no longer around to yearn for his life-sustaining bites, Master Flea remains attached to Peregrinus as guardian spirit of his family and household.
The losers in the bizarre struggle over the mythical princess and the flea are the Dutch scientists Leuwenhoeck and Swammerdamm. Leuwenhoeck never regains possession of Master Flea and hence not Dörtje either. Swammerdamm early on lost out to Leuwenhoeck because of the latter's possession of the life-sustaining flea; and his attempt to win Dörtje after all by taking a room in Peregrinus's house as a certain "Herr Swammer" likewise comes to naught. Toward the end, the mythical leech prince and the Genius Thetel enter the fray under (satirically appropriate) French aliases, the former as a customs official, the latter as a ballet dancer. In a sense, Peregrinus's old housekeeper Aline loses out, too, when Peregrinus marries Röschen; for after her initial scolding of Peregrinus for bringing home a seductively clad beauty, the housekeeper herself became vicariously taken with the young woman, especially upon discovering that they shared the same name, Aline being the name under which Dörtje introduced herself to Peregrinus as he was carrying her home that fateful Christmas Eve.24
The sharing of the name Aline between the ugly housekeeper and the seductive beauty may hold the key to understanding them as creatures of Peregrinus's fantasy. As we remember, it was Peregrinus's magical friend George Pepusch who encountered the mythical Princess Gemaheh alias Dörtje Elwerdink under that name. If we view Pepusch as Peregrinus's image of himself from his student days, then we can understand that he might endow his phantom housekeeper with the name Aline because he is in no danger of succumbing to her romantically. That would explain why the other, wildly appealing Aline appears to him that Christmas Eve attired as a stage princess, and also why this happens as he is about to leave the scene of domestic happiness at the Lämmerhirts. That evening, we may imagine, he is feeling a twinge of remorse that he has not married and started a family. Marriage, however, is associated in his mind with surrendering to passion for a woman, hence the specter of an infatuation like that which he, as Pepusch, experienced as a student with the singer Aline. That specter in turn might produce a yearning for an appealing but not threateningly seductive girl like the one Peregrinus marries in the end, Röschen Lämmerhirt. Peregrinus's ultimate discovery that the Lämmerhirts have just such a daughter thus comes as though in answer to a prayer. The name Lämmerhirt meaning shepherd calls to mind—especially in the context of Peregrinus's Christmas adventure—Christ as savior, while according at the same time with Röschen's nonthreatening nature, she being indeed as gentle as a lamb.
1. Interpretations of Hoffmann's seven fairy tales from various perspectives are offered by Gisela Vitt-Maucher, E. T. A. Hoffmanns Märchenschaffen: Kaleidoskop der Verfremdung in seinen sieben Märchen (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
2. A contemporary reviewer judged that Der goldne Topf was about the questions: "What is the ultimate purpose of human existence? How is it achievable?"; Anon., Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände 9, 2 (1815), Literaturblatt 4: 14-15. Another found it to be about "the mystery of all mysteries, the great mystical secret of all temporal creation, of the falling away and the return of the Transitory into Original Being"; Anon. [F. G. Wetzel], Heidelbergische Jahrbücher 8, 2 (1815), no. 66: 1051. That "the basic duality of Hoffmann's cosmos" can be demonstrated by stylistic analysis of this tale was proposed by Nils Ekfelt, "Style and Level of Reality in E. T. A. Hoffmann's ‘Der goldne Topf,’" Style 22 (1988): 61-92; here 86. For an argument that the story was one of the artistic fairy tales that as this critic claims expressed a hope of achieving utopia in the wake of the French Revolution and Napoleonic period, see Knud Willenberg, "Die Kollision verschiedener Realitätsebenen als Gattungsproblem in E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Der goldne Topf,’" Zeitschrift für Deutsche Philologie 95, Sonderheft "E. T. A. Hoffmann" (1976): 93-113.
3. The poetic use Hoffmann made of occult traditions in the tale was investigated by Detlef Kremer, "Alchemie und Kabbala: Hermetische Referenzen im ‘Goldenen Topf,’" E. T. A. Hoffmann-Jahrbuch: Mitteilungen der E. T. A. Hoffmann-Gesellschaft 2 (1994): 36-56.
4. For a discussion of the tale in relation to mesmerism see Maria M. Tatar, "Mesmerism, Madness, and Death in E. T. A. Hoffmann's ‘Der goldne Topf,’" Studies in Romanticism 14 (1975): 365-89.
5. Concerning the implication that Anselmus plunges into the river see Anthony Harper and Norman Oliver, "What Really Happens to Anselmus?: ‘Impermissible’ and ‘Irrelevant’ Questions about E. T. A. Hoffmann's ‘Der goldne Topf,’" New German Studies 11 (1982): 113-22.
6. A contemporary critic judged: "Here the ‘life in poetry’ to which ‘the most secret harmony of all beings reveals itself as the profoundest secret of nature’ is depicted with jesting irony"; Anon., Leipziger Literatur-Zeitung, 2 June 1815, col. 1064. Another did not think much of Anselmus's sublimity: "Nothing about the student Anselmus, except at most his awkwardness, testifies to his poetic sensitivity, which indeed he does not possess"; Anon. [Karl Ludwig Woltmann], Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung 12, 4 (1815), no. 232: col. 422. For a recent judgment that "Hoffmann's mythical Atlantis in the last analysis is a world which can only be found between the covers of a book, such as the one which the narrator himself is composing," see L. C. Nygaard, "Anselmus as Amanuensis: The Motif of Copying in Hoffmann's ‘Der goldne Topf,’" Seminar: A Journal of German Studies 19 (1983): 79-104; here 102-3. Another scholarly critic found the point to be that "the only meaningful position for man to be in is to be spread-eagled between empirical existence and the nether realm of ideal being"; John Reddick, "E. T. A. Hoffmann's ‘Der goldne Topf’ and Its ‘durchgehaltene Ironie,’" The Modern Language Review 71 (1976): 577-94; here 593. An argument that the tale is about the development of poetic language as exemplified by the case of Anselmus was made by Hartmut Marhold, "Die Problematik dichterischen Schaffens in E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Der goldne Topf,’" Mitteilungen der E. T. A. Hoffmann-Gesellschaft 32 (1986): 50-73.
7. A focus on Drosselmeier's storytelling for the goddaughter and on her developing it further in her imagination is found in Johannes Barth, "‘So etwas kann denn doch wohl der Onkel niemals zu Stande bringen’: Ästhetische Selbstreflexion in E. T. A. Hoffmanns Kindermärchen ‘Nußknacker und Mausekönig,’" E. T. A. Hoffmann-Jahrbuch: Mitteilungen der E. T. A. Hoffmann-Gesellschaft 3 (1995): 7-14.
8. A contemporary critic did not think much of the goddaughter and godfather: "Maria Stahlbaum, to whom the Nutcracker has been given as a Christmas present, is on closer observation herself, too, nothing but a wooden marionette; one therefore finds it quite all right for her to be in love with the nutcracker…. And Godfather Drosselmeier … is so much a puppet, like all of his listeners, who eagerly hear him tell about things which likewise were turned on the lathe of a Nuremberg woodworker"; Anon. [Heinrich Voß Jr.], Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände 11, 1 (1817), Literaturblatt 11: 44.
9. A contemporary critic saw Marie's adventures as taking place in her imagination: "[A] whole world appears with all of its fantastic images, as these have formed in the intuitive, innocent, and yet desirous soul in a child's ecstatic dreams"; Anon., Heidelberger Jahrbücher 12 (1819), no. 76: 1205. The important role of childlike imagination in the tale was investigated from a pedagogical point of view by Günter Heintz, "Mechanik und Phantasie: Zu E. T. A. Hoffmanns Märchen ‘Nußknacker und Mausekönig,’" Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 7 (1974): 1-15.
10. A Jungian psychoanalytical interpretation of this tale was offered by Ronald J. Elardo, "E. T. A. Hoffmann's ‘Nußknacker und Mausekönig’: The Mouse-Queen in the Tragedy of the Hero," Germanic Review 55 (1980): 1-8.
11. Zaches is seen at base as a character from folktale, the "Thumbling," and a victim of his social origin, and therefore as the tale's central figure by Furio Jesi, "L'identità del ‘Wechselbalg’ in ‘Klein Zaches genannt Zinnober’ di E. T. A. Hoffmann," Studi germanici 11 (1973): 25-50.
12. With reference to the figure of Little Zachary, a contemporary critic commented: "If we understand the author correctly, this witches' doll is the soul's offspring—Sin"; Anon., Allgemeines Repertorium 1, 2 (1819): 78.
13. A contemporary critic wrote "after reading through this Märchen one gains an insight into what it means to elevate oneself humoristically above life, and how refreshing such a successful attempt can be for the mind and soul"; Anon., Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1819), no. 54, col. 427. For a discussion of the tale in connection with Hoffmann's biography and times, from a Marxist perspective, see Franz Fühmann, "E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Klein Zaches,’" Weimarer Beiträge: Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft, Ästhetik und Kulturtheorie 24, 4 (1978): 74-86. An analysis from the standpoint of social and political history as interpreted by Marxist theory was made by Jürgen Walter, "E. T. A. Hoffmanns Märchen Klein Zaches genannt Zinnober': Versuch einer sozialgeschichtlichen Interpretation," Mitteilungen der E. T. A. Hoffmann-Gesellschaft 19 (1973): 27-45. Walter argued that the tale was "a reflection of the political powerlessness … experienced by a large part of the middle-class intelligentsia in Germany around 1815" (44). For an interpretation of the tale as a depiction of negative effects of the Enlightenment on man and society, see Heidemarie Kesselmann, "E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Klein Zaches’: Das phantastische Märchen als Möglichkeit der Wiedergewinnung einer geschichtlichen Erkenntnisdimension," Literatur für Leser 2 (1978): 114-29.
14. For a Jungian interpretation see Ronald J. Elardo, "E. T. A. Hoffmann's Klein Zaches, the Trickster," Seminar: A Journal of German Studies 16 (1980): 151-69.
15. A contemporary critic wrote, regarding depiction of the supernatural in the story: "Ever since Tieck and Hardenberg [Novalis] opened up, like a hidden door in one's everyday living room, the new miraculous fairy tale realm, in which everything can be explained, dissolved, and formed anew, and yet still remain mysterious and independent, a number of authors have followed this path; none yet seems to have found his way so happily through this romantic wilderness as Hoffmann"; Anon., Literarisches Conversations-Blatt (1821), no. 68: 270-71. An interpretation of the tale as being about poetic creativity was made by Walther Hahn, "E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Prinzessin Brambilla’: Künstlerisches Selbstbewußtsein und schöpferischer Prozeß," Michigan Germanic Studies 12 (1986): 133-50.
16. A contemporary critic commented "[t]hat Giglio finally finds his princess, and Giacinta her prince, and that their realms on the Urdarsee flow into one another like quicksilver, goes without saying"; Anon. [Heinrich Voß Jr.], Heidelberger Jahrbücher 14 (1821), no. 47: 748. Another applauded "the charming idea" that Giglio and Giacinta discover in one another their dream beloved "so that in the end it turns out that they themselves were the prince and princess"; Anon., Literarisches Conversations-Blatt (1821), no. 68: 270-71.
17. For a discussion of the tale with regard to the critic and theorist Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of "literary carnivals" see Detlef Kremer, "Literarischer Karneval: Groteske Motive in E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Prinzessin Brambilla,’" E. T. A. Hoffmann-Jahrbuch: Mitteilungen der E. T. A. Hoffmann-Gesellschaft 3 (1995): 15-30.
18. The tale is about self-knowledge and questions of self-identity according to Josef Quack, Künstlerische Selbsterkenntnis: Versuch über E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Prinzessin Brambilla’ (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1993).
19. For an argument that the tale is about overcoming inhibitions to sensuality and boundaries of the self, see Stephan Fischer, "E. T. A. Hoffmanns ‘Prinzessin Brambilla’: Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Lust," Mitteilungen der E. T. A. Hoffmann-Gesellschaft 34 (1988): 11-34.
20. A contemporary critic complained there was no point or guiding idea to the whole: "[T]he author's forcing [us] to follow him through a labyrinth of dream and insanity without a saving thread is as inartistic as it is unnatural"; Anon., Leipziger Literatur-Zeitung (1821), no. 267, col. 2136.
21. A contemporary critic commented on the dreamlike quality of Anna's adventures but saw no point to it: "It is entertaining, to be sure, to see how in the midst of her prosaic life the good rural mistress sees a carrot field in her beloved vegetable garden arise and enter her life in a strangely teasing manner, as though she were suffering feverish delusions and fantasizing about her garden plots that have come alive in a dream. An anecdote of this sort, however, cannot lay claim to being anything more than teasingly entertaining"; Anon. [Konrad Schwenk], "Über E. T. W. Hoffmann's Schriften," 126.
22. A discussion of the tale's poetic structure, including its ties to traditions of comedy and fairy tale, was offered by Alfred Behrmann, "Die Poetik des Kunstmärchens: Eine Strukturanalyse der ‘Königsbraut’ von E. T. A. Hoffmann," in Erzählforschung 3: Theorien, Modelle und Methoden der Narrativik, ed. Wolfgang Haubrichs, Zeitschrift für Literatur und Linguistik, supps. 8 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978), 107-34.
24. Hoffmann's younger literary contemporary, Heinrich Heine, complained: "The psychic realm which Hoffmann knows how to depict so magnificently, is treated most prosaically in this novel [sic]…. The grand allegory into which everything dissolves at the end did not satisfy me…. I believe that a novel should not be an allegory"; Heine, "Briefe aus Berlin," 51-52 (in the third letter, 7 June 1822). For discussion of the role of Master Flea and other magical figures in the tale as allegorical representations of erotic sensuality, see Hans Sachse, "Gespräch über E. T. A. Hoffmanns Märchen vom ‘Meister Floh’ und Goethes Gedicht ‘Das Tagebuch,’" Goethe-Jahrbuch 101 (1984): 310-20.
"DER GOLDNE TOPF" (1814; "THE GOLDEN POT")
James M. McGlathery (essay date 1985)
SOURCE: McGlathery, James M. "Fantasiestucke in Callot's Manier: Volume 3 (Fall 1814)/Der goldne Topf: Ein Marchen aus der neuen Zeit." In Mysticism and Sexuality: E. T. A. Hoffmann, Part 2: Interpretations of the Tales, pp. 29-38. New York, N.Y.: Peter Lang, 1985.
[In the following essay, McGlathery examines the fairy tale "Der goldne Topf" ("The Golden Pot") in the context of Hoffmann's life at the time of its writing.]
When Hoffmann sent Kunz the conclusion of "Der Magnetiseur" on 19 August 1813, he announced in the accompanying letter the plan for the Märchen that became Der goldne Topf and appeared as volume three of the Fantasiestücke a year later. Hoffmann waited another three months before beginning the tale, however, until November 26th, when illness kept him home. Seconda's company was playing at the Court Theater (Hoftheater) in Dresden, where they had been since the end of June. The routine of almost daily rehearsals and performances contributed to Hoffmann's failure to do much writing in those intervening three months, which produced only the essay "Dichter und Komponist" for the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung (later republished in the first volume of Die Serapions-Brüder ). Yet that fictional essay contained Hoffmann's retelling of Gozzi's Il corvo, which, with its use of magical adventures for the veiled portrayal of unadmitted sexual cowardice, must have been much on Hoffmann's mind as he prepared to write his first fairy tale, where, as he had written to Kunz on 19 August, Gozzi was to come back to "haunt."
The writing of Der goldne Topf continued for another three months, to 5 March 1814, when Hoffmann sent off the last installment to Kunz. The completion of the Märchen pretty much coincided with the effective termination of Hoffmann's position with Seconda, who had brought his company back to play in Leipzig early in December, about two weeks after Hoffmann had begun writing Der goldne Topf. During those three months between the return from Dresden and the end of his conducting for Seconda, Hoffmann interrupted his work on the Märchen to write two humorous pieces for the AMZ, the "Nachricht von einem gebildeten jungen Manne," republished the following year as one of the "Kreisleriana" in the fourth volume of Fantasiestücke, and "Die Automate," an essayistic fiction with a novelistic "frame." While the music journal was glad to accept a satirical essay like that about the educated ape Milo, the editors refused to publish the novelistic frame of "Die Automate," probably since love stories lay too far afield, although they did print the discourse on "natural music" embedded in the tale. Hoffmann was forced to turn to the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, which was pleased to publish the whole of "Die Automate" (it was later reprinted in the second volume of Die Serapions-Brüder ). It is worth noting that precisely the novelistic frame of "The Robots" reveals its connection both with Gozzi's Raven and Hoffmann's Der goldne Topf, for there, as in those two works, it is the fear of marriage that secretly explains the fantastic adventures suddenly encountered by the eligible young bachelor.
On the surface, at least, The Golden Pot, Hoffmann's second effort at story-writing in the new vein represented by "Der Magnetiseur," ends happily, not catastrophically, as does that gothic tale about the demise of a family. Even so, like Maria there, Anselmus in the present story is seized by subconscious sexual guilt and anxiety over the prospect of marrying. He fails even to get as far as the altar, since he is saved from the lures of the burgher maiden Veronika by being transported miraculously to a primeval, fairy-tale paradise that bears the name of Plato's legendary sunken city, "Atlantis." The mystical form which Anselmus' rescue from marriage takes raises the question of whether he was indeed saved in any mortal sense. To be sure, in each of the other six "fairy tales from modern times" that Hoffmann went on to write—"Nußknacker" (1816), "Das fremde Kind" (1817), Klein Zaches (1819), Prinzessin Brambilla (1820), "Die Königsbraut" (1821), and Meister Floh (1822)—there is likewise something miraculous, or at least unreal or unlikely, about the ending, as this genre, of course, demands. And except in "Das fremde Kind," perhaps Hoffmann's least characteristic story, the "miracle" consists in the bringing about of a marriage which it seemed could not take place because of insurmountable obstacles. Yet Ansel- mus' apotheosis in Atlantis is the most miraculous of all—more so even than eight-year-old Maria Stahlbaum's marriage to the nutcracker in Hoffmann's second Märchen. And this thoroughly magical nature of Anselmus' salvation is one of a number of hints that he ends as a suicide.
Granted, Anselmus, a tall, good-looking ex-student, is not engaged, nor does he even have a girl friend when he discovers three singing snakes in an elder tree on Ascension Day that fateful spring (15 August, Maria's Assumption is not meant, for later in the story spring is mentioned as the time when the little snakes go out to sun themselves). Yet when Anselmus later has begun to fear for his sanity, because by then "Serpentina" has appeared to him in human form (eighth vigil), he finally—if only briefly—admits to himself the possibility (ninth vigil) that he has been in love all along with Veronika, the sixteen-year-old daughter of his older friend Vice-Principal Paulmann. Anselmus momentarily confesses that his visions of Serpentina were really only dreams about the pretty blue-eyed girl, whose singing he accompanies on the piano and with whom he sings duets. Meanwhile, a whole summer evidently has passed, during which Anselmus' almost daily visits to Paulmann's house have been matched by equally frequent retreats to the elder bush in a vain effort to rediscover the singing snakes. Anselmus' emotional crisis then reaches a head as the summer draws to a close, when Serpentina reveals herself to him as a woman—suggesting that subconsciously he feels himself falling in love with Veronika.
The intensity of Anselmus' panic may be measured by the desperateness of his need one Sunday late that summer to confess to the Archivist Lindhorst, his prospective employer, the vision he had experienced several months before on Ascension Day. Paradoxically, the unemployed ex-student's best defense against marrying has been his very lack of a job and of career prospects—which perhaps explains why Anselmus suffered hallucinations when, on the day after Ascension Day, he first tried to report for work at Lindhorst's, and why he failed to make good the promise, made shortly thereafter, to try again. Only the desperate, insane belief that Lindhorst is the father of the singing snakes—and, therefore, subconsciously, an avenue of escape from marriage—gives Anselmus courage finally to report for work. At the same time, this acceptance of employment contributes to that very panic, by raising Veronika's hopes that Anselmus will soon be eligible to court and marry her.
Anselmus' escape from Paulmann's house to his "therapeutic" job and visions at Lindhorst's, which testifies to his subconscious panic at the unadmitted thought of himself as bridegroom, coincides with the approach of the autumnal equinox—often a crisis period for mentally disturbed people, especially because of the symbolic significance of darkness gaining ascendancy over light, or, in Anselmus' case, of desire over platonic love. In the several weeks or more between the beginning of his calligraphic work for the Archivist and his "transport to Atlantis," Anselmus visits Paulmann's house only twice: once (fifth vigil) to impress Veronika and her father with hints at the prospects that have opened up for him in his new position, and then again (ninth vigil) on the day after he has seen Serpentina for the first time as a woman and has reposed in her embrace. Now he likewise receives his first kiss from Veronika, and fear of madness gives him the momentary courage to admit for the first time that he is in love with her and even to promise to marry her. At noon of the following day, however, his subconscious panic about becoming a bride-groom reasserts itself in his sudden inability to copy Lindhorst's manuscripts. The immediate occasion for Anselmus' hallucination about being imprisoned in a glass bottle is his inadvertent squirting of ink from his quill onto a manuscript, but this crisis of irrational guilt over the clumsiness which plagues him is in turn a substitute for the sexual panic he feels in the wake of his proposal to Veronika the day before.
Our last glimpse of Anselmus in Dresden is his escape from the glass bottle on a shelf in Lindhorst's library into the arms of Serpentina, but since this adventure—realistically—can take place only in Anselmus' mind, the words of the choir school pupils and legal apprentices ("Kreuzschüler und Praktikanten") likely echo the voice of Anselmus' pathologically suppressed awareness when they tell him that he is standing on the Elbe River bridge gazing into the water. If so, then the logical conclusion is that Anselmus, suffering subconscious panic at the prospect of marrying, must be plunging to his death in the river when he imagines that he is falling into the arms of his serpentine angel of rescue.
There are a number of hints that the crisis that begins with Anselmus' vision of the snakes on Ascension Day results from his suppression of awareness that he is falling in love. For some time already he has been a regular guest at Paulmann's, who evidently has simply taken a liking to him, wants to help him find work, and—perhaps most important—enjoys the concerts that Anselmus' piano playing make possible (and especially, we can imagine, Veronika's singing, which the ex-student accompanies). Anselmus' singing snakes have the same pretty blue eyes as Veronika, but he suppresses this comparison. Moreover, the snakes first appear to him when he is wallowing in self-pity over the opportunity he has thrown away to prove himself as a ladies' man with the burgher maidens in the holiday crowd at Linke's Bad, a resort on the Elbe outside the Dresden gates.
Anselmus' hallucinatory reverie begins, moreover, at the moment he is lamenting that he now has to smoke all by himself the tobacco ("Sanitätsknaster") Paulmann has given him. Considering Anselmus' friendship with Paulmann and the ex-student's sentimentality about Ascension Day as a special family holiday, it is surprising that he has not joined Paulmann, Veronika, and the Bookkeeper Heerbrand on their stroll. They, at least, are delighted to find him by chance—just after his vision of the snakes—and therefore would likely have welcomed him along earlier if he had wanted to spend the day with them.
Anselmus thus evidently does not allow himself to think of his relationship with Veronika as a test of his success with the ladies. When he does begin to respond to her consciously, she has assumed the very role that the snakes played in his dream, that is, as merciful angel. When Veronika comes to Anselmus' defense after her father has questioned his mental health following his attempt to jump out of their gondola, he is emboldened to escort her home (second vigil). That he is able to do so for the first time without splashing large amounts of mud on her white dress and without stumbling evidently is attributable to this perception of her as not a prospective bride, but his saving angel. Only at this point does he allow himself to notice for the first time that Veronika has pretty dark blue eyes, that is, like the snakes in the vision he has just had. Finally, the snakes in Anselmus' vision are endowed with voices not unlike Veronika's. His vehement objection to Heerbrand's likening of her voice to crystal bells, which are associated in Anselmus' mind with his snakes, also suggests that Anselmus' vision is part of his suppression of awareness about his feelings toward Veronika.
Anselmus' persecution fears about the peddler woman from the Black Gate, whose basket of apples he upsets in his haste to indulge in the pleasure of Linke's resort paradise (first vigil), also are likely motivated by subconscious sexual guilt and anxiety about entering the role of bridegroom. On that fateful Ascension Day, the peddler woman's ominous warning, "Soon your fall into the crystal!" ("Bald dein Fall ins Kristall!"), is completely enigmatic, as it is, too, when it is repeated in Anselmus' hallucinatory adventure at Lindhorst's front door when he first tries to report for work copying manuscripts (second vigil). Even at the end, when Anselmus imagines himself imprisoned in a glass bottle as punishment for having wavered in his dedication to Serpentina, and the peddler woman declares triumphantly (tenth vigil), "Now you shall fall into the crystal!" ("Nun dein Fall ins Kristall!"), her warning has no obvious reference to the secret object of his subconscious fears, that is, marriage. Yet by now the peddler woman has become a projection of that sexual guilt and, on the brink of suicide, Anselmus even "discovers"—that is, admits to himself—that the hag's goal is to rob him and his dream beloved of their promised wedding gift, "The Golden Pot," and to see to it that Veronika gets Anselmus into her wedding bed. Thus, the peddler woman's original warning evidently involved a perceptive judgment that the ex-student's clumsy haste marked him as ripe for marriage and that he therefore would soon be appearing inside a fortuneteller's crystal ball.
That Anselmus, in his suppressed panic about Veronika, must subconsciously understand what the peddler woman means is suggested by his own eventual identification of her—in his final, suicidal hallucinations—with another, better-known local character, the fortuneteller "Frau Rauerin." This hag's occupation is to tell young maidens what they most want to hear, in particular, that they will get the young men they have set their caps on, or, as in the case of Veronika's friend Angelika Oster (fifth vigil), that the fiancés off fighting in the wars will return safely to marry them.
Anselmus' earlier hallucination, in which Lindhorst's doorknocker was transformed into the peddler woman (second vigil), thus may have involved an association in Anselmus' mind between getting and holding a job and marrying and becoming a pater familias. Lindhorst's bellrope, which Anselmus grabs for support, is transformed into a hideous, transparent snake that coils itself tightly around him. Together with the doorknocker, the bellrope may represent to Anselmus' subconscious the fateful step of making oneself eligible for marriage (as happened in Hoffmann's case in the spring of 1802, when he was promoted to Councillor). At least, the hallucination ends with Anselmus' faint as he begs to be killed, and thus the subconsciously desired result is achieved: as he has done "inadvertently" several times before, Anselmus misses a job opportunity and thereby remains ineligible to marry.
Anselmus' snake-visions culminate in Serpentina's appearing to him as a beautiful maiden (eighth vigil) on the day before his proposal to Veronika. The mythical story about the salamander and the snake, which Serpentina tells Anselmus as they intimately embrace, contains elements that suggest that it is a projection of his subconscious sexual guilt and panic. In Serpentina's story, the salamander, an embodiment of male sexual passion, is seized with desire for a snake he has found in a lily, whose petals opened in response to his hot breath. Before attempting to satisfy his passion, the salamander abducts the snake from her mother, the Lily, and takes her to the Spirit-Prince Phosphorus to ask his blessing of the union—as Anselmus might have done in asking Lindhorst for Serpentina's "hand," or rather Paulmann for Veronika's. Anselmus' sexual guilt and anxiety is projected in Phosphorus' warning to the salamander that the heat of his passion will destroy the snake, or at least change her into a new being who will fly away from him, that is, as a shy virgin is changed into a passionate female after she has been "delilied." Phosphorus speaks from his own experience, as Anselmus has "learned" already from Lindhorst's fantastic yarn in the coffee-house (third vigil), which, indeed, helped inspire this later mythical fantasy on Anselmus' part.
If, as seems likely, Serpentina's story is a projection of Anselmus' sexual panic, then his fantasies about Lindhorst as spirit-prince and father of Serpentina suggest that his employer is associated in his mind with both roles—Phosphorus' as well as the salamander's. Moreover, since Lindhorst apparently is known to the residents of Dresden as an eccentric bachelor, it is actually Anselmus' friendship with Paulmann, the widower father of two daughters—one eligible for marriage and one at puberty—which is the ultimate source of Anselmus' salamander-story.
Phosphorus' warning to the salamander about love is the voice of the sexually guilty bachelor or widower father giving misogynist advice to a bridegroom or prospective son-in-law. Like many a father of the bride, Phosphorus obviously identifies with the suitor; he even could be suspected of jealousy in trying to scare off the lover of the snake, since the latter is, by implication, the fruit of his own union with the lily. Phosphorus speaks darkly about how only his victory over Satan has made the lily's leaves strong enough to hold the spark that he placed in her. The snake seems to have been sired by this spark, because it was in the lily's protecting leaves that the salamander found her. That Anselmus is fantasizing here about incestuous relationships is indicated, too, when the lily tells her daughter to sleep until she is awakened by the lily's lover, who by implication is Phosphorus, the snake's father!
Such riddles as these suggest that Anselmus' salamander-fantasy is a projection of the sexual guilt he feels by identification with Paulmann, who lives alone with his two adolescent daughters. (As we shall see in "Rat Krespel," Klein Zaches, and elsewhere, cohabitation of widower father and daughter serves as a projection of sexual guilt and anxiety in Hoffmann's young men.) The lily evidently is saving the snake for incest ("Morning Wind" is another name for Phosphorus), but the salamander gets there first, perhaps because Phosphorus is afraid that revisiting the beloved might set loose the bound dragon, or Satanic lust. Moreover, Phosphorus' projection of his own incestuous guilt regarding his passion for the daughter—who, after all, is a tempting snake—contributes perhaps to his bachelor misogynism and to his overly severe punishment of the salamander for having failed to bridle his passion and for having laid waste their garden in his resulting despair. To Anselmus' subconscious mind, no doubt, making love to Veronika would spoil or change her and would in any case somehow destroy the happy bachelor paradise that he, Paulmann, and Heerbrand have been enjoying together.
Serpentina's report of the conditions that Phosphorus sets down for the salamander's return to Atlantis also suggests that her story is a projection of Anselmus' guilt and anxiety about having fallen in love with one of Paulmann's daughters. The salamander is condemned to live among the Earth-Spirits, which (as is evident later in "Die Königsbraut," see ch. 20) are associated with baser desires—lust, or greed, as its sublimation. His "fire" will be rekindled eventually, but only to "purify" him to the extent that he can enter human life, where he will rediscover his snake in a lily bush and sire three daughters by her. The salamander will be allowed to cast off the burden of human life and return to Atlantis, but only after he has found three youths endowed with childlike, poetic natures as husbands for the three serpentine daughters. To be sure, Paulmann is anything but the type to find earthly existence intolerable, and he certainly does not seem intent on marrying off his daughters (much less to young men with their heads in the clouds). But if the salamander's story is a pro- jection of Anselmus' sexual guilt and anxiety arising in part from his identification with Paulmann as the widower father of daughters, the salamander's suffering over his exile from Atlantis is a sublimation of the guilt and torment that Anselmus subconsciously associates with Paulmann's situation, and which Anselmus has projected onto Lindhorst. Serpentina's parting admonition to Anselmus that Phosphorus' victory over the dragon was not complete and that the peddler woman is one of its offspring is a final indication that Anselmus' Atlantis-fantasies are part of his persecution fears, which in turn have arisen as a result of his friendship with Paulmann and his subconscious panic over falling in love with the daughter.
The subconscious sexual guilt and anxiety that likely explains Anselmus' "disappearance" does not manifest itself to any great degree in the other characters. Veronika's hallucinatory adventures are the product of such feelings only to the extent that, as a young virgin, she perhaps cannot quite admit to herself that she is using seductive charms to win Anselmus and therefore imagines that she has resorted to black magic. This embarrassed sublimation of sexual enticement as black magic reflects a minor crisis in Veronika's passage from girlhood to womanhood, which occurs when she suddenly discovers that she is in love with Anselmus and thereupon begins to fear that she might lose him.
Her discovery comes on a Wednesday (fifth vigil) after Anselmus, contrary to his custom of daily visits, has stayed away for two days, ever since finally reporting for work that Monday late in summer. Veronika hears voices that afternoon which plague her with taunts about Anselmus having his sights on a better match than she represents. These fears have been triggered by Heerbrand's doubtless only jesting report that Anselmus soon will be made Hofrat, or Court Councillor. Veronika's—probably only imaginary—visit to Frau Rauerin that evening produces further hallucinations, particularly after the fortuneteller warns Veronika to give up the idea of marrying Anselmus, because he is in love with the snake. Frau Rauerin's advice projects Veronika's suppressed awareness that Anselmus probably is not the marrying type; perhaps Veronika even senses unconsciously that he is a sexual coward. Her ensuing magical discovery that Frau Rauerin is really her childhood nurse "Liesa," and then that the former nurse is a witch, are fantasy projections of her adolescent insecurity about the power of her sexual charms, and also of the guilt she feels about using them on Anselmus. Like Armida in Gluck's opera (one of Hoffmann's favorites), Veronika fears that her natural endowments are insufficient for the desired conquest. To avoid sexual guilt she casts herself in the role of Anselmus' saving angel, and thus can tell herself that she has resorted to "Satanic arts" not in order to seduce Anselmus, but rather to save him from losing his mind (the result, of course, is exactly the opposite). The witch who aids her in this good and noble undertaking, so her subconscious mind may rationalize, is really only the nurse who catered to her needs as a child, that is, at an age when Veronika's desires ran to sweets and goodies and her thoughts of love and marriage were more innocent.
The role of subconscious sexual guilt in Veronika's fantasies about enlisting the witch's aid is suggested most directly in the confession she insists on making to her father and Heerbrand before she accepts the latter's proposal of marriage (eleventh vigil). For the first time since that fateful October evening, Heerbrand, who meanwhile has actually been made a Hofrat, comes back to visit on the occasion of Veronika's saint's day, 4 February. While Heerbrand's absence of several months has not disturbed Veronika, Anselmus' failure to visit has resulted in a deep depression that has begun to affect her physically. Neither she nor Paulmann or Heerbrand seems, on the face of it, to know what actually has happened to Anselmus; at least, if they do, they are unwilling to admit it to one another or even to discuss the question. To be sure, Veronika, in her weird confession, claims to "know" that Anselmus has wed the snake, whom she describes as a rich and beautiful princess, perhaps to comfort herself for Anselmus' "rejection" of her. Yet her abjuring of further use of the "Satanic arts" to win a young man suggests that she also knows that her charms drove him to madness and suicide—about which she likely feels a mixture of guilt over having made the attempt and pride that her seductive arts were not ineffectual.
As her first beloved, Anselmus obviously holds a special place in Veronika's heart; he alone has served as the object of her magical fantasies about love. Thus, while Veronika gives Heerbrand a lock of her hair as a pledge of her loyalty to death, in doing so she also curiously asks him to drop the pieces of her magic mirror into the Elbe river at midnight from the bridge at the point where the cross stands and the surface thus is not frozen over. (It is hard to imagine that Heerbrand actually carries out this odd mission, although perhaps he does, for the role of second best to Anselmus has not kept him from pursuing his dream of marrying Veronika.) Veronika's concern for the disposal of the mirror's remains is part of her abjuration of Satanic arts, and this penitence may be an indirect confession that she shall not be able to love Heerbrand as passionately as she had loved in pursuing Anselmus.
What actually appeared in Veronika's magical mirror, of course, was not Anselmus' face but her own. It was this Narcissistic admiration of her own beauty, enhanced by a maidenly first experience of desire, that made Anselmus appear there as a projection of her dream of love. Veronika does not admit, perhaps not even to herself, that she is asking Heerbrand to cast the mirror-pieces into Anselmus' watery grave. Her own subconscious sexual guilt and anxiety in that first experience of love resulted in her following Anselmus into the fantasy-world born of his subconscious sexual panic. The ironic truth about the role that Veronika played in her own and Anselmus' fantasies is suggested, after her marriage to Heerbrand, by the young dandies' admiration of her beauty and charm through their lorgnettes and especially by their resulting exclamations that she is "a divine woman" ("eine göttliche Frau"), that is, an enchanting goddess or little Venus, whose charms caused Anselmus to escape into hallucination and death.
Heerbrand's manifestations of subconscious sexual guilt and panic are of a more usual, everyday sort. In his eyes, too, Veronika is endowed with divine charms, as evidenced by his echoing of Anselmus' siren-fantasy when he compares her voice to crystal bells. While Anselmus' panic about marrying helps explain his unconscious sabotaging of his own hopes for a career, Heerbrand's dream of becoming court-councillor is bound up with his anxiety about whether Veronika will accept his proposal. Thus, Anselmus' subconscious dread of becoming a bridegroom is an ironic reversal of Heerbrand's more commonplace anxiety about being turned down. As we shall see in Hoffmann's many later portrayals of male rivalry, it is the favored suitor, like Anselmus here, who suffers most from sexual panic, since he feels himself the object of pursuit. The rival does not experience this crisis or pressure, since he is not actually the object of desire, though he may imagine that he is.
Even in Heerbrand's case, the closer he feels himself to the realization of his dream, the more he exhibits symptoms of anxiety. At first, Heerbrand's jealousy of Veronika's feelings for Anselmus expresses itself in his efforts to win Paulmann to the view that the ex-student is mentally ill. Heerbrand's patronizing concern to help Anselmus overcome his fears about reporting for the copying job at Lindhorst's also is motivated partly by this subconscious envy. Evidently at about the same time that Anselmus finally reports for work, Heerbrand learns of the possibility that he himself may soon be advanced from bookkeeper to court-councillor—itself a "fantastic," most unlikely preferment! Heerbrand slyly tries to test in advance whether Veronika would marry him and whether Paulmann would accept him as son-in-law if he gets the title. In doing so, he pretends that it is Anselmus who has the prospect of becoming court-councillor. Heerbrand's reasoning undoubtedly is that if title and status are enough to make Paulmann overlook his doubts about Anselmus' sanity, then Veronika's father cannot possibly object to Heerbrand either when the day comes that he can present himself as court-councillor.
That day arrives just as Anselmus' crisis comes to a head in October, immediately after Serpentina for the first time appeared to him as a woman (eighth vigil). Following that vision, Anselmus, Lindhorst, and Heerbrand meet on the way to Linke's Bad, where the latter becomes so drunk that Lindhorst departs, evidently in disgust, leaving Anselmus to help Heerbrand home. This probably uncharacteristic overindulgence on Heerbrand's part may be explained by the likelihood that he has just learned that his near-miraculous advancement is assured; at any rate, Heerbrand's arrival at Paulmann's the next afternoon with ingredients for punch (ninth vigil) is definitely part of his celebration over the news. Even though he has taken care to assure himself about how Paulmann and Veronika will react to his revelation, Heerbrand still is too anxiously excited to tell his secret. The degree of his anxiety is attested by his joining Anselmus in drunken fantasies about Lindhorst and the peddler woman; that Heerbrand should be temporarily participating in Anselmus' hallucinations suggests that he is beginning to suffer some of the same subconscious sexual panic that Anselmus feels, now that as court-councillor in spe he has actually become eminently eligible as a prospective bridegroom. As a result, Heerbrand holds back the news, and waits until after his title actually has been conferred, no doubt so as to make a greater impression. He even postpones his announcement and proposal until St. Veronika's day, 4 February—over three months after the fateful punch-party in October. Now, the source of Heerbrand's anxiety about being turned down—his suppressed awareness that Anselmus was a serious rival—is no longer a factor, and Heerbrand's courage also is bolstered by the knowledge that Veronika's melancholy grief has progressed to the point where for her to pursue it farther would be to threaten her health. Heerbrand's anxious timidity and sly calculation thus wins him Veronika's hand in the end, but only as a result of his subconsciously panicked rival's flight into suicide.
Paulmann does not hesitate to give his consent to Heerbrand's marriage with Veronika, although he does so with the qualification that she herself must first make her desires in the matter known. Like Maria's father, the baron, in "Der Magnetiseur," he is not outwardly jealous of his daughter's love nor desirous of retaining her services as mistress of his household. Since he has a second daughter, twelve-year-old Fränzchen, he has a potential successor to Veronika's role anyway. The schoolmaster also seems much less doting a father than was the baron, a retired officer who had married late. While the latter's subconsciously jealous adoration of Maria projected itself through identification with her absent officer-fiancé Hypolit, Paulmann's seeming indifference to his daughters as women is reflected in his apparent lack of awareness, or at least unconcern, that either Heerbrand or Anselmus, or both, might be regular visitors at his house more out of adoration of Veronika than friendship for her father. On the surface then, Paulmann appears the type of the bachelor—or, in his case, widower—schoolman who prefers the company of men to that of women (Freundschaft as opposed to Liebe was the Platonic distinction made in Hoffmann's day). The baron's exclamation, in "Der Magnetiseur," that he could not enjoy punch which had not been made by his daughter contrasts with Paulmann's seeming indifference to Veronika's gracing of the punch he drinks with Heerbrand and Anselmus (ninth vigil).
This complete absence of romantic attraction to his now eligible daughter on Paulmann's part is itself suspicious, especially considering the pervasiveness of suppressed jealous love among Hoffmann's fathers, guardians, and godfathers. In particular, Paulmann's objection to Veronika's daydreaming about marriage, which he likens to Anselmus' hallucinations, is suspect as an outlet for the widower father's suppressed embarrassment about her arrival at womanhood. Furthermore, Paulmann's determination to bar Anselmus from the house, after the latter's mad imaginings had infected both Heerbrand and the schoolmaster during their punch party, may involve the father's suppressed jealousy over Veronika's having lost her heart to Anselmus, whom Paulmann may earlier have considered—with reason—to be unlikely to enter upon the role of bridegroom. Also, Paulmann's horror at the thought of having participated in the hallucinatory ravings the day before may involve subconscious shame that he, too, was behaving like a young man in love.
At the very least, Paulmann's friendship for Heerbrand and Anselmus must be motivated by subconscious identification with the two young men as potential husbands for Veronika and by an unadmitted desire to marry her to someone who is as much his friend as her lover—in which case he would be gaining a son rather than losing a daughter. Anselmus' role, for example, has been to accompany Veronika as she sings her father's compositions (as Julchen did Hoffmann's). Even so, marriage obviously is a topic shunned by Paulmann until Veronika's pining for Anselmus—or her grief over his "loss"—has undermined her health. When Heerbrand facetiously declared Anselmus a likely candidate for Hofrat, Paulmann did not react—as the bookkeeper might have hoped he would—by considering the ex-student as a potential son-in-law. Nor does Heerbrand's ceremonious announcement of his new title on Veronika's name-day put such ideas into Paulmann's head automatically. Rather, the widower-father in both cases reacts merely with delight that a young friend of his has become a man of some influence, which adds to his own status and position. It is left to Heerbrand to bring up the subject of marriage, to which Paulmann then warms, evidently because family ties with a man of high position are more valuable than merely those of friendship, or because in any case the elder daughter's lovesickness has made a sad affair of the once happy widower household.
If the widower's subconscious sexual shame hides behind schoolmasterly abhorrence of novelistic daydreaming and behind misogynistic preference for sober male companionship over that of lovesick damsels, Archivarius Lindhorst's bachelor anxieties find self-ironic projection in the seeming "Oriental bombast" of his mythological story about Phosphorus and the lily. Read as a middle-aged bachelor's fantasy about love and marriage, the tale appears to be Lindhorst's confession of his own—probably groundless—sexual guilt. Lindhorst's teasing insistence that the lily is his ancestral mother, implying that Phosphorus was his primeval male ancestor, suggests that they represent in his mind the essence of male and female sexuality, respectively, much as do Adam and Eve in the Story of the Fall. As with our Biblical ancestors' troubles, woman's vanity and sensuality is made responsible in Lindhorst's story for man's involving himself with infernal powers.
Phosphorus' problem in his love for the lily is essentially that of a platonic lover who is loathe to awaken sensuality in a young virgin for fear it will change her into a vain, flighty creature, that is, a woman as opposed to a maiden. Although Lindhorst portrays Phosphorus as a young god, the latter likely serves as a projection of the middle-aged Archivist's dream of lost youth. The lily's transformation and her flying away are thus roguish, self-ironic bachelor fantasies to the effect that kissing a young maiden whom one adores severs the spiritual bond between them and results in making the girl frivolous and light-headed, like Paulmann's Veronika when she is daydreaming about marriage. The only way to regain power over a maiden whose sensuality has been awakened is to resort to seduction, for the role of spiritual mentor as such has been lost. Thus, in the myth Phosphorus enlists the infernal dragon's aid—that is, Satan's—in bringing the lily down from the clouds and making her his prisoner. To a doting, cowardly lover, though, seduction is only a last, desperate means to avoid losing the beloved, since intercourse is an object of revulsion, or certainly not a goal. Therefore, Lindhorst's Phosphorus vanquishes the dragon, returns him to the infernal regions from whence he came, and lives happily ever after with his lily, just as Hoffmann must have dreamed of doing with Julchen once she had reached marriageable age and her eventual husband Graepel had awakened her sensuality. Lindhorst's lily, like Anselmus' three little snakes—and unlike Paulmann's Veronika—is surely only a dream in the mind of a middle-aged bachelor, or, as portrayed in the myth, the product of the Sun-Mother's warm rays falling on the longingly heaving breast of the hill in the valley, that is, on Lindhorst's own lonely bachelor heart. Lindhorst must vicariously identify with the widower Paulmann as father to two pretty adolescent daughters, and he evidently knows almost from the start that Anselmus' hallucinations are the result of his daily visits to Paulmann's. It is not surprising, therefore, that Lindhorst so easily and willingly participates in Anselmus' fantasy about him as the father of the three little snakes.
Lindhorst's story about Phosphorus and the lily thus seems a private confession on Hoffmann's part of the nature of his fantasies about himself and Julchen Mark. She was the incarnation of his dream of transcendent love. The spark of his genius and his adoring love contributed to her transformation from girlhood to womanhood. She was twelve, Fränzchen Paulmann's age, when he met her, and sixteen, like Veronika, when she became engaged. Hoffmann would have had to become Julchen's lover himself in order to keep from losing her, just as Phosphorus has to enlist the dragon's aid to recapture his transformed lily, although all Hoffmann really desired was to live with or near Julchen as father and daughter or as mentor and pupil. Paulmann's bachelor life with his two daughters likewise is a projection of Hoffmann's dream of himself as the half-orphaned Julchen's substitute father, just as is perhaps Anselmus' subconscious envy of Paulmann and its sublimation in his fantasy about Lindhorst as the father of three serpentine daughters.
Hoffmann's ironic confession that his vision of Anselmus' union with Serpentina in Atlantis was made possible only by an invitation from Lindhorst for a drink of magic punch is a further hint that Lindhorst's fantasy about Phosphorus and Hoffmann's tale about Anselmus are both self-ironic expressions of sexual guilt over middle-aged dreams of becoming a young lover again. Hoffmann's envy of Anselmus' bliss in Atlantis is a self-ironic expression of lament over the impossibility of his dream of transcendent union with Julchen. The inherent ambiguity of that relationship, however, may be reflected in the rhetorical question with which Lindhorst attempts to console Hoffmann: "Is then Anselmus' blessedness anything else at all but life in poetry, to which the sacred harmony of all beings reveals itself as Nature's deepest secret?" ("Ist denn überhaupt des Anselmus Seligkeit etwas anderes als das Leben in der Poesie, der sich der heilige Einklang aller Wesen als tiefstes Geheimnis der Natur offenbaret?"). Just as Anselmus' dreams of Serpentina were motivated by subconscious sexual guilt and anxiety about having fallen in love with pretty Veronika, Hoffmann's Julchen-fantasies were sublimations of a jealous love with incestuous overtones about which he was anxious and ashamed. Anselmus' sexual panic drives him to suicide, just as Hoffmann's Julchen-fantasies were a source of his fear in 1811 and 1812 that he was losing his grip on sanity. In Hoffmann's diary calendar, Julchen's birthday fell on St. Anselm's day; and on St. Veronika's day, 4 February, 1812, as well as the day before, Hoffmann fantasized about himself and Julchen dying simultaneously, since they had both taken sick at the same time.
"NUßKNACKER UND MAUSEKÖNIG" (1816; "THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING")
Paul Heins (review date December 1979)
SOURCE: Heins, Paul. Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Kay Chorao. Horn Book Magazine 55, no. 6 (December 1979): 649-50.
For a Caedmon recording of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, Janet Schulman adapted the original account by E. T. A. Hoffmann ["The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" ] to make the somewhat truncated action of the stage production more understandable. In addition, she retained the character of the Sugar Plum Fairy found in the ballet but not in the German writer's narrative. The book, which follows the recording very closely, preserves the storytelling style and cadence of her earlier version, but the text has been slightly abridged and edited, obviously in the interest of simplicity and terseness. To illustrate what the artist has called a "‘romantic fantasy,’" she has combined fairy-tale and nineteenth-century German elements in her representations instead of trying to compete with the glitter and color of a ballet performance. Children and grown-ups, toys and mice, costumes and décors are drawn realistically and precisely, while monochromatic shadings cast a quiet gray patina over the drama of the pictures.
Amy Kellman (review date November 1984)
SOURCE: Kellman, Amy. Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Ralph Manheim, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. School Library Journal 31, no. 3 (November 1984): 125.
Gr. 3 Up—Maurice Sendak gets top billing in this new version of E. T. A. Hoffmann's Nutcracker. His visual conception captures the bizarre and fantastical in this funny and odd tale of enchantments, wicked mice, a young girl and her strange Godfather Drosselmeier, who orchestrates much of the action. The book stems from Sendak's costume and set designs for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's 1981 production. That production, and this volume, differ from the traditional ballet as they are based on Hoffmann's original 1816 long short story, rather than a French version of Hoffmann's tale. The mixture of paintings taken from the production as well as those created for this book does indeed result in the "disparity of style and tone from section to section" that Sendak refers to in his introduction. Echoes of many of Sendak's books reverberate throughout the illustrations. The journey to Candytown is shown in a sequence of muted color double-page paintings in which a ship goes down and a "wild thing" eyes the turbulent ocean. Manheim's translation is a pleasure to read aloud and is livelier than the Anthea Bell translation and adaptation. The details that embellish each twist of the plot are farcical, wry and naive in turn. For a simple retelling to explain the story of the Nutcracker ballet to a young child, try the adaptations by Warren Chappell or Janet Schulman. For the full impact of the E. T. A. Hoffmann fairy tale, this new edition is a welcome addition to the holiday shelves.
Ann A. Flowers (review date January-February 1985)
SOURCE: Flowers, Ann A. Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Ralph Manheim, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Horn Book Magazine 61, no. 1 (January-February 1985): 53.
Hoffmann's tale "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" is familiar in part because it forms the basis of the Nutcracker ballet. But the ballet is based on the version of the tale by Alexandre Dumas, père, and accretions created by numerous productions over the years have altered the story even further. However unsuitable it may be for ballet, the original story is a mysterious, powerful, and slightly grotesque tale. The child Marie receives the Nutcracker as a Christmas gift, becomes devotedly attached to him, and defends him against the gruesome Mouse King and his army. Then comes the tale within the tale, "The Story of the Hard Nut," in which the lovely Princess Pirlipat is transformed into hideousness by Madam Mouserinks, mother of the Mouse King. The Princess can be restored to beauty only by the man who becomes the Nutcracker, and he, in turn, is restored by Marie. The story has, in essence, a double Frog Prince theme. The enigmatic figure of Godfather Drosselmeier and the sometimes sardonic humor of Hoffmann's tale give an air altogether different from the gaiety and sweetness of the ballet. [The Nutcracker, t]he smooth, elegant, new translation re-creates the flavor of the period and does justice to the story. The illustrations, spectacular and remarkably effective, are either taken from Sendak's stage settings for the ballet or are newly drawn for this volume, and for this reason, their styles vary greatly. But many of them show clearer and more pristine color and have a greater delicacy and lightness of line than do most of Sendak's drawings. The occasional quirkiness of the pictures—there is an unmistakable, enormous Wild Thing peering from behind an island and a huge double-page spread of the Nutcracker's rather ferocious grin and staring eyes—eerily reflect the mysterious story. Altogether a magnificent, splendid combination of talents—the author and the illustrator each worthy of the other.
Ilene Cooper (review date 1 January 1988)
SOURCE: Cooper, Ilene. Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Andrea Clark Madden, illustrated by Carter Goodrich. Booklist 84, no. 9 (1 January 1988): 785.
Gr. 4-6, younger for reading aloud—[The Nutcracker, t]his lengthy translation of Hoffmann's story may disappoint readers more familiar with stirring scenes from the ballet. The quirky tale of young Marie, her nutcracker prince, and her strange Godpapa Drosselmeier is long and involved though it does feature heavy doses of magical moments. What's wonderful about this edition is the more than 50 paintings in glorious color. The long text is broken up by small cameos and full-page art, many of the pictures are highly dramatic as when the deformed Princess Pirlipat presents herself to young Drosselmeier. Goodrich is a master of color and lighting using glowing yellows and pinks, shadowy midnight blues and foggy grays to heighten the mystical quality of the action; his sense of enchantment will touch readers. Children going to the ballet may prefer the shorter versions of the story that are available, but those who wish to immerse themselves in the Nutcracker 's ambience will be captured by these mesmerizing pictures.
Louise L. Sherman (review date March 1988)
SOURCE: Sherman, Louise L. Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Andrea Clark Madden, illustrated by Carter Goodrich. School Library Journal 34, no. 7 (March 1988): 192.
Gr. 3-7—An elegantly produced book which most libraries will not need. The Nutcracker story is not appealing or coherent enough to interest most children today. It would probably be forgotten altogether if it were not for the ballet whose story is drawn from, but not the same as, Hoffmann's tale. While Marie's encounters with the seven-headed mouse king, her love for the Nutcracker, and Drosselmeier's tale of the ungrateful Princess Pirlipat might interest many readers, the trip through Toyland is cloying and boring. The ending, in which Marie (still a little girl) marries Drosselmeier's nephew and goes to live in Toyland is both excessively romantic and unbelievable even within the conventions of fantasy. Throughout the story hints of the dark nature of Drosselmeier are given but never explained. Libraries with a need for a good translation of The Nutcracker will find that this is comparable to Ralph Manheim's version, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and more complete than Anthea Bell's version, illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerger. Goodrich's illustrations are outstanding. His rich earth-toned paintings have a hazy, dreamlike quality which enhances the fantasy. Fritz and Marie are angelic and doll-like, while Drosselmeier is truly menacing. The Nutcracker manages to seem both wooden and expressive at the same time. The design and format of the book are also excellent. Unfortunately the story is not worthy of them.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 August 1996)
SOURCE: Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. Kirkus Reviews 64, no. 16 (15 August 1996): 1228.
This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an eerily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike.
Lisa Falk (review date October 1999)
SOURCE: Falk, Lisa. Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Renee Graef. School Library Journal 45, no. 10 (October 1999): 68.
PreS-Gr. 4—The Nutcracker, t]his adaptation of the popular story belongs on the shelf next to the glorious version illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Crown, 1991). Schulman tells the complete story, and stays very close to Hoffmann's original text. Since the book is accompanied by a CD, children can either read along or listen to the recording independently. It features British actress Claire Bloom's dramatic reading and Tchaikovsky's familiar music. Graef's beautiful Victorian-era illustrations appear on every page, either as a framed full-page painting or a vignette. Readers and listeners will love this version of The Nutcracker —the music and story meld together perfectly to present a magnificent multisensory experience.
Lisa Falk (review date October 2000)
SOURCE: Falk, Lisa. Review of The Nutcracker: A Pop-Up Adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann's Original Tale, by David and Noelle Carter. School Library Journal 46, no. 10 (October 2000): 57.
Gr. 3-5—This bright and busy adaptation of the classic tale [The Nutcracker ] includes brief elements of the original story—the curse of the hard nut, Princess Pirlipat, and the seven-headed Mouse King. Each cream-colored page features an elaborate, colorful bordered box. The boxes on the verso pages contain the text and mini-chapter headings. Those on the recto feature a flap to pull down, revealing a three-dimensional paper sculpture that moves when a tab is manipulated. The intricately engineered creations are fragile to the extreme, and the illustrations are reminiscent of comic-book or Saturday-morning cartoon art. Libraries will be better served by Geraldine McCaughrean's adaptation (Oxford, 1999), or by versions of Hoffmann's tale illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Crown, 1991) or Renée Graef (HarperCollins, 1999).
Lolly Robinson (review date November-December 2004)
SOURCE: Robinson, Lolly. Review of The Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted by Susanne Koppe, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. Horn Book Magazine 80, no. 6 (November-December 2004): 660-61.
Devotees of the ballet version may be surprised by the layers of fantasy and reality in [The Nutcracker, ] this skillful distillation of the much longer original story. Marie's favorite Christmas gift is a nutcracker shaped like an ugly little man. When she witnesses a fantastic midnight battle between mice and toy soldiers, her parents dismiss it as feverish delirium, but clever, mysterious Godfather Drosselmeier encourages her, incorporating Marie's adventures into his own stories and hinting that she is on the verge of breaking the spell that turned his handsome young nephew into the homely nutcracker. Zwerger's elegant full-page watercolors capture the tone of the story without catering to the more familiar ballet-stage elements. Her uncluttered compositions focus on specific characters and objects, rewarding the careful observer with details that foreshadow and illuminate the multifaceted story.
TALES OF HOFFMANN (1946; EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER LAZARE)
May Lamberton Becker (review date 22 December 1946)
SOURCE: Becker, May Lamberton. "The Disturber." New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review 23, no. 18 (22 December 1946): 10.
Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776-1822)—he chose the third name himself in tribute to Mozart—was doomed in advance for a variety of reasons. He was so diversely gifted as composer, theatrical director, lawyer, novelist, caricaturist that his talents collided with each other and obstructed the road of his genius. He was the victim both of heredity and an early environment like that of a Freudian guinea pig. He became by far the best known of the German Romanticists; whenever one turns in this fevered interval of the early nineteenth century, one comes upon his name; his influence spread like a drop of dyestuff in water, growing fainter in hue as for years it tinged imaginative fiction. Hugo drew from him, Dumas, Stevenson, Hawthorne, Poe, quite possibly Emily Brontë—and now, in the sardonic spirit of his own life, 124 years after his death, his name, once spoken with a shiver, is kept alive, so far as the general public is concerned, only by an opera whose music was written by some one else. For although the inspiration and the book of Tales of Hoffmann came from Hoffmann, it is Offenbach with whose musical medley we are now familiar.
The ten tales in this handsomely illustrated volume—Richard Lindner's many fantastic, delicate or gruesome designs are the book's chief distinction—begin with the picturesque pseudo-historical story generally regarded as his masterpiece, "Mademoiselle De Scudery," a straightforward detective thriller at the court of Louis XIV in which, through all the hair-raising action, the unshakable good sense of "Das Fraulein von Scudery" herself keeps her the central figure—at seventy-three.
"Don Juan," the "fabulous adventure that befell a musical enthusiast on his travels," remains the chief expression of characteristic Romantic interaction of literature and music and interpenetration of both with a psychopathic element prophetically modern. The collection includes the novels "The Golden Pot," first translated by Carlyle; "The Fermata," in which he draws on his own early reminiscences and "The Doubles," whose theme of dual identity is said to have inspired Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde,"Antonia's Song" (Rat Krespel), "Berthold the Madman," "Salvator Rosa" and "The Legacy," from which according to the introduction, Longfellow "literally borrowed whole passages of fantastic description for his prose romance Hyperion."
There are those who will feel however, that all these fantasies are now somewhat overshadowed in interest by the "biographical note," by Christopher Lasare, with which the book begins. For this not only affords material for a psychological study such as real life rarely offers, but by including not only his literary career but also his major works as a composer indicates the close interweaving of the two in his troubled, tragic life.
TALES FROM HOFFMANN: TRANSLATED BY VARIOUS HANDS (1950; EDITED BY J. M. COHEN)
Elizabeth M. Wilkinson (review date 16 March 1951)
SOURCE: Wilkinson, Elizabeth M. "The First of the Hallucinated." Spectator, no. 6403 (16 March 1951): 350-52.
[In the following review of Tales from Hoffmann, Wilkinson reflects on how Hoffmann's historic resonance has been carried on more by music than by literary publication.]
Most of us in England have come to E. T. A. Hoffmann, as to much of German literature, through music or via the French. It is the melodies of Offenbach's Tales that his name evokes, not the markedly musical structure of his own German prose; Casse-Noisette we have probably read in the translation of Alexandre Dumas, or in one of the two English versions which passed it off as Dumas's own story. Mr. Cohen, who last year did his bit towards reawakening our interest in German literature of the past by offering us a shortened English version of Goethe's autobiography, continues the good work with this selection of five of Hoffmann's best stories [Tales from Hoffmann ].
Four of them are in nineteenth-century translations. Carlyle's superbly unified, if idiosyncratic, rendering of The Golden Pot is preserved intact; Oxenford's over-literal Sandman and Ewing's Story of Krespel and Mlle de Scudéri have been altered only to remove inaccuracies or the occasionally awkward phrase. The fifth, The Deed of Entail, done by Mr. Cohen himself, certainly achieves the greater ease of expression which, as he rightly says, we have come to expect from translations today—but only, as he also modestly admits, at a greater cost to faithful rendering than his predecessors would have allowed. The general principles involved in this admission cannot be argued in a brief review; they are too closely bound up with a much larger issue—the modern tendency to read far more and less well, to devour the matter and turn a deaf ear to the manner. In this particular case, however, no great harm has been done to the spirit of the original by the occasional omission of seemingly redundant epithets—presumably in order to preserve the effect of economy—though I noticed at least one significant echo that was lost thereby. Nor could I see the advantage of sacrificing the specific to the general in the rendering of certain adjectives. But the difficult operation of turning German periods into English rhythms has been most skillfully performed.
The illustrations by Gavarni which adorn the volume are reproduced from a French edition of the eighteen-forties—though adorn is scarcely the word, for the artist has entered so completely into Hoffmann's twilight world, in which nightmare grotesques and visions of strange beauty intrude without warning upon sober daylight reality, that his drawings are an integral part of the stories themselves. Hoffmann's interest for his contemporaries lay precisely in this power to make the supernatural and the macabre credible by such a strong admixture of realism, such a wealth of circumstantial detail, that the reader is never quite sure on which plane he finds himself. He left his traces on the work of Edgar Allan Poe his Fräulein von Scudery is the first detective story. But it is not so much as the inaugurator of the mystery-story and the thriller that he fascinates us today, but rather as the forerunner of Kafka and of the Rilke of Malte Laurids Brigge. He was, as Mr. Cohen puts it in his admirably brief but informative introduction, the first of the hallucinated. His belief that the fantasies of our waking hours are intimations of a higher reality should commend him to addicts of our present-day "metaphysicals," as should his preoccupation with problems of consciousness to the Freudians.
It may be sad, but it is not inappropriate, that Hoffmann's name should live through music. He was himself an able musician and composer—it was not for nothing that he changed his third baptismal name to Amadeus—and an exciting music critic. His dramatic little piece on Don Giovanni is as memorable as Wagner's paraphrase of Beethoven's Eroica, Heine's wonderful description of the violin-playing of Paganini or Thomas Mann's interpretation of Wagner's Tristan in the short story of that name. Here is that same blending of the supernatural with realistic detail that we find in the stories. It is in box no. 23 that the critic is surprised by the mysterious visitation of the lovely and tragic Donna Anna, who interprets for him the metaphysical profundities which underly the superb irony and Rococo graces of Mozart's music. Perhaps Mr. Cohen may think of including some of these pieces in a later volume.
V. S. Pritchett (review date 16 June 1951)
SOURCE: Pritchett, V. S. Review of Tales from Hoffmann: Translated by Various Hands, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, edited by J. M. Cohen. New Statesman and Society 41, no. 1058 (16 June 1951): 684-85.
[In the following review of Tales from Hoffmann, Pritchett praises Hoffmann as an engaging author whom modern readers should find well worthwhile.]
What is the lineage of the detective story? It begins, presumably, with the first detective: Vidocq. After that important invention, Hoffmann's Mlle de Scudéri seems to be next in the succession and here the moral and technical basis are properly laid down. We are on the side of virtue and justice against evil conspiracy and plausible accusation, and the latter have to be exposed step by step. Poe's The Murders of the Rue Morgue grew out of "Mlle de Scudéri," but the stress is on the horror of crime and evil, rather than on detection. I have never read the Frenchman, Gaboriau, to whom Wilkie Collins is said to owe a debt, but Wilkie Collins is, at any rate, the first properly uniformed and impressive detective novel in English literature. The pure conundrum, intricate, sufficient to itself and an exercise of the faculties, has at last been extracted from the double meanings, the symbolism, allegories, crimes and hauntings of the Germanic or the Gothic tales, by the pragmatic English genius. When young Franklin Blake in The Moonstone is finally shown to have taken the moonstone without knowing it, the explanation is that he has been doped with laudanum, and not that he has a second self, or a higher and lower nature; he is allowed no more than an accessible and god-fearing Unconscious. In short, Wilkie Collins is as British as they are made.
Two new editions of the Tales from Hoffmann and The Moonstone have just been published. Tenuously united, at some point, in the roots of their art, the two authors are suggestive in their fundamental divergence. The Hoffmann which retains many of Gavarni's excellent illustrations, is well-edited and contains "The Golden Pot" (which Carlyle translated), "The Sandman," "The Deed of Entail," "The Story of Krespel" and "Mlle de Scudéri." I will begin by quoting from Mr. Cohen's acute analysis of Hoffmann which has explained to me why (when it comes to the test), I prefer Hoffmann's kind of tale, a book like Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner, or (with reservations) Jekyll and Hyde to nearly all works of detective fiction. "There are for Hoffmann three realms," says Mr. Cohen, "a comfortable Philistia—comically drawn in The Golden Pot —a borderland of dangers and hidden significances, and a third region of spiritual power and serenity." In Collins and his descendants there is Philistia alone: the detective novel is the art-for-art's sake of our yawning Philistinism, the classic example of a specialised form of art removed from contact with the life it pretends to build on. It is an abstract reduced to the level of harmless puzzle and pastime. It provides a pleasant way of not-reading, sharpening the instruments of the intelligence, but giving us nothing to use them on. We could go on—if we were attacking detective fiction—to say, as people used to in the old Marxist days, that it exemplified the spirit of self-regarding isolation in middle-class culture, and that, in its way, it was as precious as Pater. Or, in its defence, that it represents a core of private sanity, a tenacious belief in the ultimate effectiveness of intelligence and reason, which still survives in us despite the conditions of our age.
Hoffmann's world, on the contrary, is the underworld or overworld of Romance, the world of Good and Evil, not of Right and Wrong. We shall meet the flesh and the devil, wickedness and virtue, imagination and dull, acquisitive worldliness. A tale like The Gold Pot is a charmed allegory of the life of the artist. Those who find German fantasy repugnant, who groan before its archaic paraphernalia and see in its magic, its alchemy, its visions, its hypnotic dreams and trances, its ghosts and its diabolism, all the disordered tedium of the literary antique shop, will find Hoffmann more engaging, more concrete and cleverer than he seems at first sight. He is a wonderful story-teller, his humour is gracious, he is circumstantial and his invention is always witty. In The Gold Pot, for example, where the artist takes to drink, he is represented not as a drunkard but as a little creature imprisoned in a bottle. The Entail is a vivid and satisfying nouvelle and the management of the two sleepwalking scenes is the work of a master of ingenuity. And if his world is Romance, then it defines what Romance ought to be: not extravagance, but life reflected perfectly in a mirror or a lake, true in detail, but mysteriously upside down. Mr. Cohen says:
The most important events in Hoffmann's life were fantasies; his early love of Cora Hatt and his later love for Julia More had no basis in reality—the ladies were not as he imagined them; on the other hand the Napoleonic wars, which he affected to disregard, were the very real background to a great deal of his life. Dream and reality had changed places for him.
(And here Hoffmann became the forerunner of those characteristic modern Romances: the imaginative case-histories of Rilke and Kafka.)
But greater authority was given to his dream visions by the decay of religious myth in the age immediately preceding his. Robbed of the immediacy of miracle stories, which had been part of Christianity's millennial heritage, the 18th century was forced to look for evidence of the supernatural elsewhere, in order to satisfy man's instinctive belief in events not subject to material law. Following Swedenborg's lead, they looked to mesmerism, spiritualism and psychic phenomena, for the proof of God's existence; the artist's frenzy and the madman's alike provided evidence of possession by forces superior to man's; dreams rendered everyone familiar with a world outside the closed kingdom of cause and effect.
And, I suppose, the late survival of medieval life and of folklore in Germany, must be partly due to the destructive effect of the hundred years war on culture. War and revolution do give a meaning to life, but the heart and the sensibility feel that meaning to be of a low order and even spurious. Hoffmann is a sweet dessert wine, but he has that extra clear-headedness in a restricted field which is often noticeable in the fuddled; he was a startlingly complete artist, though in miniature. He had grasped the lesson of folklore; that the extraordinary, the unheard of, must be made minutely, physically real, and the pleasure he gives is that of exactitude and recognition.
COPPÉLIA: THE GIRL WITH ENAMEL EYES (1965)
Ethel L. Heins (review date April 1966)
SOURCE: Heins, Ethel L. Review of Coppélia: The Girl with Enamel Eyes, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted and illustrated by Warren Chappell. Horn Book Magazine 42, no. 2 (April 1966): 188-89.
The seventh in a series of handsome picture-book adaptations of musical and theatrical productions presents the story, not easily available elsewhere, of a favorite classical ballet. Originally written by the German writer of fantastic tales E. T. A. Hoffmann, Coppélia tells of a beautiful life-sized doll created by a cunning magician, of a foolish youth who fell in love with her and almost lost his life, and of his wise and faithful sweetheart, Swanhilda, who saved him. Following the design and format of its predecessors, the book combines the story with the main musical themes of the score. Illustrations in black and white and in full color convey the atmosphere of traditional ballet stage settings and the posturing of choreographic figures.
THE STRANGE CHILD (1984)
Ethel R. Twichell (review date March-April 1985)
SOURCE: Twichell, Ethel R. Review of The Strange Child, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted and translated by Anthea Bell, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. Horn Book Magazine 61, no. 2 (March-April 1985): 177-78.
Heavy-handed fantasy and a lack of unity diminish the impact of [The Strange Child, ] a less familiar story by the creator of The Nutcracker. Amiable parents have allowed their son and daughter to run wild in the woods; the two children are overjoyed by the appearance of a mysterious child who conjures up dazzling and magical games for their entertainment. But overbearing cousins find the children woefully uneducated and foist a harsh tutor on them, bringing the woodland idyll to a halt. The tutor, in reality, is the evil Pepser, a dire enemy of the strange child's mother—who just happens to be the queen of the fairies. Pepser is eventually dispatched by the children's father; their father dies; the impoverished family must move in with relatives; and the strange child, entreating the children to love her, claims she will keep them from harm. Compensating for the ambiguous and unconvincing text are handsome illustrations which capture the enchantment of the mysterious playmate with a romantic and melancholy sensitivity. But they, too, by not always clearly indicating what is going on, add further to the book's enigmatic and ultimately unsatisfying quality.
Nancy Schmidtmann (review date April 1985)
SOURCE: Schmidtmann, Nancy. Review of The Strange Child, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted and translated by Anthea Bell, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. School Library Journal 31, no. 8 (April 1985): 88.
Gr. 4-8—The title [The Strange Child ] suits this tale that combines folk elements with allegorical hints and modern psychodrama. Christlieb and Felix, children of a provincial nobleman, feel like country bumpkins when their sophisticated city cousins visit and bring toys as gifts. They realize they don't know how to play with toys, destroy them and return to Nature's more familiar playthings. A strange child appears to them in the forest, plays with them and helps them realize that the creatures of Nature are more wonderful than toys. A wicked tutor (in reality, Pepser, King of the Gnomes) arrives; in the shape of a giant fly, he sets out to destroy the strange child. He fails, but the strange child is gone, returning only after their father's death, when the children are wandering, homeless and destitute, through the forest. He comforts them, promises good fortune and vows to remain with them forever in their dreams. The story is flawed by an incongruous blend of the mystical and the modern. It is neither folk tale nor pure fantasy. The translation does not flow naturally; it is frequently awkward and heavy. Each section is distractingly outlined in the margin. The dream-like illustrations in earth-tone watercolors show elongated figures in ballet-like poses and expertly capture the mood of the story. This book, by the author of The Nutcracker, is a curiosity, but it is of questionable interest for children's library collections.
McGlathery, James M. "Hoffmann's Careers." In Mysticism and Sexuality: E. T. A. Hoffmann, Part One: Hoffmann and His Sources, pp. 40-69. Las Vegas, Nev.: Peter Lang, 1981.
Offers a detailed examination of Hoffmann's professional life and the influence various jobs had on his literary works.
Carnegy, Patrick. "Precursor of Pirandello, Borges, Nabokov: Patrick Carnegy on a Curiously Neglected Fabulist." Times Educational Supplement, no. 3460 (22 October 1982): 27.
Presents a favorable assessment of Tales of Hoffmann, selected and translated by R. J. Hollingdale.
Daemmrich, Horst S. "The Strange Fairyland." In The Shattered Self: E. T. A. Hoffmann's Tragic Vision, pp. 55-71. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1973.
Examines instances of allegory and metaphors of the human condition in Hoffmann's Nutcracker and the Mouse King, "The Strange Child," and "Master Flea."
Hearne, Betsy. Review of Nutcracker, by E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Ralph Manheim, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Booklist 81, no. 3 (1 October 1984): 146.
Notes that Sendak's apt illustrations and Manheim's skillful translation add depth to Hoffmann's Nutcracker.
Hewitt-Thayer, Harvey W. "The Marchen." In Hoffmann: Author of the Tales, pp. 214-29. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1948.
Critical discussion of Hoffmann's fairy tales.
Kent, Leonard J., and Elizabeth C. Knight. "Introduction." In Selected Writings of E. T. A. Hoffmann: The Tales: Volume 1, edited and translated by Leonard J. Kent and Elizabeth C. Knight, pp. 9-45. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1969.
Provides biographical information about Hoffmann, describes the German Romantic movement that began in the late 1790s, and surveys Hoffmann's fantasy tales.
McGlathery, James M. "E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822)." In Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, edited by Jack Zipes, pp. 239-40. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Offers a brief biography and critical assessments of Hoffmann's works.
Negus, Kenneth. "Marchen: The Child'sWorld of Fantasy." In E. T. A. Hoffman's Other World: The Romantic Author and His "New Mythology", pp. 118-36. Philadelphia, Penn.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1965.
Analyzes the rise of the Romantic German literary fairy tale, or Marchen, focusing on Hoffmann's unique contributions to the genre.
Schneiderman, Leo. "E. T. A. Hoffmann's Tales: Ego Ideal and Parental Loss." American Imago 40, no. 3 (fall 1983): 285-310.
Considers a psychoanalytical study of Hoffmann's life and works.
Segebrecht, Wulf. "Heterogeneity and Integration in the Work of E. T. A. Hoffmann." In Romanticism Today, edited by Friedrich Schlegel, pp. 44-54. Bonn, Germany: Inter Nationes, 1973.
Studies the paradoxical and diverse elements in Hoffmann's writings.
Additional coverage of Hoffmann's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Gale: Concise Dictionary of World Literary Biography, Vol. 2; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 90; European Writers, Vol. 5; Gothic Literature: A Gale Critical Companion, Ed. 2; Literature Resource Center; Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Vols. 2, 183; Reference Guide to Short Fiction, Ed. 2; Reference Guide to World Literature, Eds. 2, 3; Short Story Criticism, Vols. 13, 92; Something about the Author, Vol. 27; Supernatural Fiction Writers, Vol. 1; and Writers for Children.