Hoffmann, E. T. A.

24 January 1776 - 25 June 1822

You know the "Nutcracker" ballet, the one that every local ballet troupe is obligated to perform at Christmas? This isn't the guy — Tchaikovsky wrote that music in the 1890s, using the translation by Alexander Dumas (pere) rather than Hoffmann's original. But Hoffmann wrote the short story that lies behind it, and it's a short story that's very unlike the charmingly sentimental puffery that little kids get dragged to every December. Very unlike... Hoffmann, a brilliant music critic and respectable composer as well as writer, is one of the major figures of German Romanticism, and a powerful and disturbing writer — and disturbed, according to many; Sir Walter Scott, in his extended discussion of Hoffmann and literary supernaturalism, concludes that Hoffmann needs medical attention more than he needs literary criticism, and no less a student of dysfunctional minds (which I guess is just about everyone's) than Sigmund Freud made Hoffman's "The Sandman" the center of his essay on "The Uncanny." Hoffmann, although strongly influenced by Gothic literature, is probably best regarded as a fantasist rather than a "Gothic" or "horror" writer, although Freud's term is perhaps the most apt.

E. T. A. Hoffmann
Biographical note w/ some discussion of a few works. [littlebluelight]
Biographical note
Includes select bibliography. [Petri Liukkonen, Calendar of Authors]
Biographical note
E. T. A. Hoffmann
Supernaturalist bibliography with book cover images. [Guide to Supernatural Fiction, Tartarus Press]
Context and Biography
While this pair of brief essays claims to be providing context for "The Sandman," they are in fact an excellent introduction to German Romanticism, which of course was instrumental in the formation of the Anglo-American Gothic, and to Hoffmann's life. A must-read. [The Literary Link]
Biographical essay
[Petra Rau, U Portsmouth; Literary Encyclopedia]
E. T. A. Hoffmann
Part of a site about Music and Literature, itself part of a larger Beethoven site, these pages provide a fairly detailed chronology of Hoffmann's life as well as some of his work pertaining to music and music criticism.
Brief biographical note
[The Tales of Hans Christian Anderson]
Brief biographical note
[German Culture]

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- at Munsey's / BlackMask (various formats)

"The Cremona Violin"
Also known as "Antonia's Song," "Councillor Krespel," "Rath Krespel," and "The Story of Krespel," according to E. F. Bleiler. [1817] (55K) [Gaslight]
- at Gaslight

"The Deserted House"
Also known as "The Mystery of the Deserted House" and "The Empty House." [1817] (55K) [Gaslight]

"The Golden Pot"
- at Munsey's / BlackMask (various formats)

"A New Year's Eve Adventure"
- at Munsey's / BlackMask (various formats)

"Nutcracker and the King of Mice" buy this book at amazon.com
- no known etext

"Ritter Gluck"
- at Ludwig van Beethoven/Music and Literature/Hoffmann

"The Sand-Man" [1817]
The classic — and widely anthologized — tale of a boy and his automaton — and, according to Freud, who discusses this work in his essay "The Uncanny," castration anxiety. Automata, by the way, were a happening phenomenon in the C19 — check out Edgar Allan Poe's "Maelzel's Chess Player" and Hoffmann's own "Automata" for other Gothic-tradition examples; for a general discussion of automata, check out The Automata Gallery or this History of Automata.
- at Gaslight
- at Red Moon Horror
-- study guide to this work, keyed to a theatrical production but containing valuable discussion of Hoffmann. [Chicago Humanities Festival]


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  Many of Hoffman's major supernaturalist tales are collected in The Best Tales of Hoffmann, edited by the renowned expert on supernaturalist fiction E. F. Bleiler and published by Dover.   click for more info from amazon.com
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Another excellent collection of important Hoffmann tales is the Penguin Classic's edition:
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Essays and Reviews:
The Reception of E.T.A. Hoffmann in 19th Century Britain
A 1999 PhD thesis by Petra Bauer.
E. T. A. Hoffmann
By Kyla Ward; a good overview of Hoffmann's weird work. [Tabula Rasa]

"E. T. A. Hoffman"