E. T. A. Hoffman

June 19, 2006


Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann
One of the best-known representatives of German Romanticism
author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist
Used the pen name “E. T. A. Hoffmann”, telling people that the “A.” stood for Amadeus, in homage to the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Sandman

First in a book of stories titled Die Nachtstücke (The Night Pieces
Later adapted (very loosely) as the ballet Coppélia
Horrific depiction of the folklore character, the Sandman, who is traditionally said to throw sand in the eyes of children to help them fall asleep
Clara represents the Enlightenment and Nathanael the Romantics
Themes of eyes (interpreted by Freud as fear of castration),


“Most curious to know more of this Sandman and his particular connection with children, I at last asked the old woman who looked after my youngest sister what sort of man he was. ‘Eh, Natty,’ said she, ‘don’t you know that yet? He is a wicked man, who comes to children when they won’t go to bed, and throws a handful of sand into their eyes, so that they start out bleeding from their heads. He puts their eyes in a bag and carries them to the crescent moon to feed his own children, who sit in the nest up there. They have crooked beaks like owls so that they can pick up the eyes of naughty human children.'”

“‘Master! Master!’ he cried, ‘leave my Nathanael his eyes!’ ‘Let the child keep his eyes and do his share of the world’s weeping.'”

“Oh, my dearest Nathanael, do you not believe that even in gay, easygoing, and carefree minds there may exist a presentiment of dark powers within ourselves which are bent upon our own destruction?”

“It is the phantom of our own ego, whose intimate relationship, combined with its profound effect on our spirits, either flings us into hell o transports us to heaven.”

“Possibly, also, you will come to believe that real life is more singular and more fantastic than anything else and that all a writer can really do is present it as ‘in a glass, darkly.'”

“He will exist and work on you only so long as you believe in him; it is only your belief which gives him power.”  


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