Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1816 to 1817)

The schedule and guidelines for participation are on the event webpage.  Just reading the  posts of all the other participants is tremendously informative. There is an interesting contest or two and some prizes to be won.  One of the tasks participants are charged with is reading a work first published in 2014 and this collection qualifies.  

I am very happy to be once again participating in German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy's Literary Life.   Events like this are one of the great things about being part of the international book blog community.  I know there is a lot of work that goes into a month long event and I offer my thanks to Lizzy and Caroline

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

Ernest Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (he changed his middle name in honor of Mozart-1776 to 1822, born Königsberg, Prussia) was a highly regarded music critic, composer, and a theater director but it his fantastic short works of fiction, often composed very rapidly that have brought him immortality.  Operas and ballets have been made from his stories.  Peter Wortsman in his brief bio on Hoffman tells us that Freud studied Hoffman's writings, especially "The Sandman" deeply.

The plot is complicated and narrated in an interesting sophisticated fashion.  The story starts out with a letter from Nathanael to the brother of his fiancé in which he relays dreams or visions he has had of The Sandman. The Sandman was a character in Germanic folklore said to come when childen sleep and take their eyes to feed to his own children.  He awakes, or maybe he kept dreaming.  He goes into his father's study where the father's lawyer is demonstrating an automaton.   The lawyer hears Nathanel and grabs fire tongs to remove his eyes.  Ok strange so far but this is just the start and it gets much stranger. 

I do not want to spoil the intriguing plot for first time readers. I read this in a very excellant anthology, Tales of the German Imagination, edited, introduced and translated by Peter Wortsman. My bio data on Hoffmann comes from there.

Older public domain translations of Hoffman's short fictions can be found at EBooks@Adelaide

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