Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tales” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  1,464 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
This selection of Hoffmann's finest short stories vividly demonstrates his intense imagination and preoccupation with the supernatural, placing him at the forefront of both surrealism and the modern horror genre. Suspense dominates tales such as "Mademoiselle de Scudery", in which an apprentice goldsmith and a female novelist find themselves caught up in a series of jewel ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 31st 1983 by Continuum (first published 1817)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tales, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tales

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bill  Kerwin
Aug 10, 2014 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Have you ever finished, with mitigated pleasure, a big fat anthology of an author's works, only to realize that you would have experienced unreserved delight if the book had been a good deal shorter?

Thats how I feel about the Penguin Classics selection of the Tales of Hoffman. It is an excellent value, if you like buying in bulk, but a slimmer volume—say, about half this length—would have been even better.

Hoffman flourished a full generation before Poe, and his tales gleam as darkly as do those
Aug 31, 2013 Issicratea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
E. T. A. Hoffmann, where have you been all my life? I can’t quite believe I haven’t read this author before; he’s so much part of all kinds of literary traditions I’m interested in, from the birth of historical fiction (he’s contemporary with Scott) to the whole fantastic/proto-psychoanalytic vein of nineteenth-century fiction, from Mary Shelley through Poe to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I was quite disappointed when I finished to return to my own ...more
Jack Tripper

Here's the cover of the 1982 Penguin Classics paperback I have (416 pages). The one pictured with this edition is actually from a later printing.
Dec 17, 2014 Carmo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contos, alemanha, bib-l
Apontado como precursor de um género que terá inspirado Poe ou Hitchcock, Hoffman deixou uma vasta colectânea de contos, alguns deles adaptados para ópera ou ballet. Caracterizados pelo sobrenatural e horror, são histórias fáceis de ler, ricas em pormenores, engenhosas e com uma boa dose de mistério. Os finais são na maioria surpreendentes e tanto podem ter um desenlace feliz, como um inesperado desfecho trágico. Hoffman era um romântico e como tal os seus contos tem uma forte componente moral e ...more
The first time I read Hoffman's short stories was in art school, where our main professor's most obsessive obsession was German Expressionism (which I love), a natural extension of German Romanticism (which I also love). They were a total revelation, especially because--more than, say, English-language Gothic writing a la Edgard Allan Poe, all which I also love--we were all blown away by the 'depth' of psychological insight. Sometimes it was almost uncanny, as if Hoffman's writing leaned literal ...more
Jun 23, 2009 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The rather long introduction to this book provides useful biographical information (Hoffman was a German Romantic, having lived from 1776-1822), insights into Hoffman’s psychology, and specific comments about the tales contained in this volume. There are seven of Hoffman’s stories contained herein.

“Ritter Gluck” has a flavor of magical realism; it is certainly a fantasy with a febrile quality.

“The Golden Pot” is dreamlike and phantasmagoric; the distinctions between reality and fantasy are blurr
Reviewing the stories as I go:

Mademoiselle de Scudery: Ah, I have to say that this story may have turned me off from reading Hoffmann if I weren't so committed. The story is... okay. Only okay at best. It had moments that gave me a little flutter of anticipation, but then I was let down. Not a good first story for a collection, but the second story, The Sandman, is already rocking my brain.

The Sandman: This story was pretty much perfect. Hoffmann was most certainly of the Romantic Era, as eviden
Czarny Pies
Sep 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, german-lit
Anyone who has seen the opera Tales of Hoffman or the ballets Coppelia and Nutcracker must be aware of the enormous influence that ETA Hoffman had on European culture throughout most of the nineteenth century. Read this book then to enjoy first hand the writings that inspired so much that was to come.

Read this review to find out about the enormous role that E.T.A. Hoffman played in the emancipation of Europe's Jews. (From Norman Davies' Europe: A History, p. 169)

Prior to the Napoleonic wars must
PopSugar's 2015 Reading Challenge: a book you started but never finished

Stories of the strange and uncanny are all well and good, but these are from the Romantic period, where there are far more swoons and snuff-taking than scares. It’s hard to discuss the actual plots of the stories since they’re so short and easy to spoil, so I’ll try to discuss them in terms of how creepy or entertaining they were instead.

Mademoiselle de Scudery: 3/5. Started well with a creepy opening scene that led to a nic
What role does art play in the pursuit of happiness? Does it mine all the beauty in the world and then refine it until the ore has been purified into unadulterated gold, or does beauty only enchant us the more because of the dross from which we try to separate it? Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, though a Romantic compelled by beauty, rarely, if ever, rewrote the world to fit an ideal. He chose rather with horror, humor, and happiness all distilled together to write a compelling string of tales i ...more
Planning on taking Bill Kerwin's excellent advice to read:

'"Mademoiselle de Scudery" (a mad jeweller who must possess all his works), "The Sandman" (an unstable student obsessed with a beautiful robot), "The Artusof" (a businessman turned painter and a beautiful model), "Councillor Krespel" (a beautiful soprano and her Svengali father),and "The Mines at Falun" (a miner torn between a real woman and the spirit of the jewels he mines).'
Kailey Curless
Jan 19, 2012 Kailey Curless rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-for-school
Read "The Sandman" for class. I love this type of storytelling. It reminds me of reading Poe, Lovecraft or Bierce. Highly recommended reading.
Angela Wallace
Jan 20, 2014 Angela Wallace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I studied Hoffmann at university, and I just love his stories! He was a master storyteller!
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
Some of the creepiest stories that I've ever read. I recommend NOT reading this if you're going to be alone for any extended period of time . . . just saying . . .
Fernando Endara
Descubrí a este autor en la colección de Ariel Ilustrado. En este cuento convergen la realidad y fantasía. Este autor inspiró la obra de varios clásicos como Poe o Kafka. Se destaca su estilo romántico, siendo un pionero en este movimiento en Alemania. Anselmo es el protagonista de esta historia de realismo psicológico y suspenso. Sorprendido al caminar, tropieza con una vieja bruja que lo maldice. Desde entonces la mala suerte lo persigue.

Anselmo se ve envuelto en ilusiones, magia y hechos sobr
Tristam Trondheim
Jan 24, 2014 Tristam Trondheim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I deeply enjoyed the more celebrated MademoiselleDe Scuderi and the Sandman, my favorite story must be the The Entail; it's the ultimate gothic tale: a haunted crumbling castle, a beautiful lady, a dark secret...
Also it's amazing how these tales are all a variant of the same theme: an orphan who falls in love with the daughter of the man who acts ambiguously like a father and a villain , and whose job usually involves sinisterly precise handicraft (goldsmith, clockmaker, telescope assem
Feb 17, 2008 Marya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-horror
Did you know that Freud wrote a psychoanalysis of "The Sandman"? Read the rest of Hoffman's tales, and you'll see why they are particualrly suited for such a task. It's as easy to see sex in a Hoffman tale as it is to see class in a Dickens book.

Or, you know, you could just enjoy the darkly disturbing tales popular enough to have been translated into music, ballet, stage, and screen.
I guess I can see how these stories might have provided a basis for both surrealism and horror....but only vaguely. Quite honestly, this was a slog for me, though Hoffmann treasures art, courtly love and unexplainable forces, I just couldn't bring myself to truly enjoy any of the stories.
Aug 25, 2011 gaudeo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Strange tales, many of them involving evil spirits. The tales also often involve stories about stories, which usually turns me off for some reason. I'm glad to know something now about this writer greatly celebrated in his time, but his stories won't be among those I reread down the line.
Ann Klefstad
Nov 29, 2008 Ann Klefstad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hoffman is one of the great ones of the world, truly.
Vittorio Ducoli
Feb 03, 2013 Vittorio Ducoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Solo l'arte e la conoscenza vera ci renderanno felici

Questo vecchio volume della Fratelli Fabbri editori risale al 1968 e fa parte di una collana (I grandi della letteratura) destinata originariamente alla vendita per corrispondenza, i cui numeri sono ormai reperibili solo sulle bancarelle dell'usato.
Si tratta comunque di volumi curati nella traduzione, come ho potuto constatare leggendo le tragedie di Eschilo, anche se poveri quanto ad apparato critico: consiglio quindi agli appassionati di acq
Bill FromPA
Reviewers here and elsewhere have criticized the Penguin edition for translator R. J. Hollingdale’s admission that he “editorialized” by “speeding up and tightening up” the tales to achieve “the effect intended by the author”. I can understand the criticism of such a practice, but in reading these eight stories I found Hollingdale’s translations the most effective in both pace and atmosphere and the truest to what I perceive, from my limited knowledge of German, to be Hoffmann’s voice. On the in ...more
Mar 17, 2017 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ate-2017
What a wonderful selection of short stories. There are lots of styles here, including relatively straightforward detective fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and a final madcap story at the end. There is a consistent portrayal of love in this books: boy sees beautiful young girl, falls madly in love with her right away for no real reason, and loses his mind, sort of like a 13 year old girl's idea of what love is.

If you read the first story and are unimpressed, stick with it for just one more st
Vessela Desheva
Feb 05, 2017 Vessela Desheva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked some of the tales and disliked or didn't understand others... But it was an interesting book and easy to read so I don't regret giving it a try...:)
Vittorio Ducoli
Feb 03, 2013 Vittorio Ducoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nel mondo del Realismo Magico

Questo bel volume della TEA, oggi fuori catalogo, contiene alcuni dei più significativi racconti di E.T.A. Hoffmann, comunque facilmente reperibili in altre edizioni, e ci permette di entrare nel, o di approfondire il, realismo magico di questo straordinario scrittore.
In verità non si tratta solo di racconti, perché almeno uno dei testi, Mastro Pulce, è un vero e proprio romanzo, che anche se piuttosto breve (circa 200 pagine in questa edizione) è unanimemente consid
Oct 06, 2011 Coxy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hangover from my university days, I'd always intended on reading "The Sandman", a short story about a malevolent wizard (I'd suppose you'd call him that) who kills the narrator's father in a strange ritual involving the harvesting of human eyes. So far so good. The child who witnessed the murder grows up to be a somewhat disturbed adult, who in a letter to a friend insists he has seen the murderer in the city where he now studies (the wizard escaped from the original crime scene, never to be s ...more
Jun 04, 2010 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm (Amadeus) Hoffmann may very well be the grandfather (or great-grandfather) of a number of fictional genres and this collection of his short stories provides a great overview of his work.

Mademoiselle de Scudery is a classic murder mystery with plot twists, false heros and a surprise ending. The Entail is a creepy ghost story, set in a dilapidated castle with secret rooms, that plays on some Gothic themes such as mental illness and payment for “sins of the father.” However, w
Jan 04, 2010 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Some of the stories remind me of the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne. They are romantic in form and frequently employ the devices of gothic and fantastic fiction, including ghosts, towers and sorcery. Moreover, the characters have a great capacity for feeling, and are deeply affected by such things as music, painting and members of the opposite sex. The stories are particularly interesting from a psychoanalytic point of view: Hoffmann explores a number of themes that are familiar from Sigmund Fre ...more
Oct 10, 2013 Muninn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Tredici!” esclamò un libro, un poderoso tomo sulla cura delle viti con i cinque elementi alchemici. “Oh, no no no….ah!” Una papalina si materializzò al di sopra del ciclopico volume. A parlare non era stato il libro. Era stato il dotto libraio di materie esoteriche e cabalistiche che, scavando tra immense e barcollanti pile di libri, cercava l’unico a suscitare il mio interesse. “Ecco a lei, il quattordicesimo.” Una mano ossuta mi porse, avvolto in una morbida copertina di velluto rosso, il pic ...more
Oct 04, 2015 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hoffmann is one of the most original authors I've read. This collection of short stories certainly displays that originality. "Councillor Krespel" tells the story of a young woman whose singing threatens her life. In "The Artushof" figures in pictures seem to come to life and guide a young man. "Mademoiselle de Scudery" is detective story written in 1818, 22 years before Poe. Other stories, while not as inventive in plot, have Hoffmann's strange touches. He seems to anticipate psychology, but al ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Marquise of O— and Other Stories
  • Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature
  • Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte
  • The Oval Lady, Other Stories: Six Surreal Stories
  • Gautier Récits Fantastiques
  • The Stories of Heinrich Böll
  • Selected Stories
  • The Ghost-seer
  • Complete Plays and Prose
  • Malombra
  • Le confessioni d'un Italiano
  • The Lord Chandos Letter: And Other Writings
  • Fancies and Goodnights
  • The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies
  • Fairy Tales Of Wilhelm Hauff
  • The Collected Stories
  • Die schwarze Spinne
  • The Haunted Dolls' House and Other Ghost Stories
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann, better known by his pen name E. T. A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann), was a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach's famous opera The Tales of Hoffmann, in which Hoffman appears (heavily fictionalized) as the hero. He is also the author of ...more
More about E.T.A. Hoffmann...

Share This Book

“I wished I could read in their shrivelled faces and watery eyes, I wished I could hear in the bad French which came half through their pinched lips and half through their pointed noses, how the old ladies had got at least on to good terms with the uncanny beings which haunted the castle.” 3 likes
“It was obvious from their expressions that they believed the wellbeing of R.’s inhabitants was endangered by my youth. The visit was very enjoyable, but the horror of the previous night still clung to me.” 1 likes
More quotes…