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The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  711 ratings  ·  44 reviews
It was E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) who first explored many of the themes and techniques which were later used by writers from Dickens to Dostoyevsky, Poe to Kafka, Baudelaire to Marquez. His career reached a glorious climax in The Tomcat Murr, perhaps the strangest novel of the nineteenth century.. "Hoffmann was a follower of Cervantes and Sterne, a pioneering 'magic rea ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1819)
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Dewey by Vicki MyronThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussOld Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. EliotAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollInto the Wild by Erin Hunter
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43rd out of 899 books — 515 voters
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Best German/Austrian Literature
124th out of 563 books — 564 voters

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--The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr

Editor's Postscript
What a fun book! Told in two parts (Tomcat Murr & Kappellmeister Kreisler's stories) this book is funny and intriguing.
Murr's segments are a staid, city life...a more "ordinary" life of social customs, education, society, rank, etc. Murr educates himself by learning to read & write. He has polish, civility, class.....but always the cat in him comes out: a fried herring head is too hard to resist, the claws come out at fright and anger, he arches his back. There's no getting away from on
aPriL eVoLvEs
E.T.A. Hoffman, the author of this odd, unfinished book, was born in 1776 and died in 1822. Experts in Literature describe ‘The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr’, of which Part One was first published in 1819 and Part Two was published in 1821, as proto-postmodernism because it shares many of the characteristics that define such novels. The link below describes those characteristics.

I am not a Literature expert of any kind, but I have been reading some

Murr è un gatto colto e intelligente che ama la lettura e si dedica con impegno anche alla scrittura. Il libro, infatti, è un'autobiografia in cui Murr non solo parla della sua vita ma esprime anche le sue considerazioni sulla società. Murr, però, per scrivere la sua biografia, usa dei fogli che contenevano la biografia di Kreisler, un altro personaggio di Hoffmann. Le due biografie in questo modo si sovrappongono e l'editore stampa un libro che contiene le due biografie che s'intrecciano e s
J.T. Wilson
It's always rewarding when you read a book like this - two hundred years old and full of references to bourgeois German society - and find that it is genuinely funny, that the humour transcends cultural and historical boundaries. Here, the characteristics of the pretentious, deluded cat Murr and the intense, anti-social composer Kriesler are easily identifiable in any era.

Murr engages in a sort of bildungsroman, starting off as a precocious kitten fond of half-reading classics and amusing himse
Always a fan of E.T.A. Hoffmann I was not disappointed by this tale of a self aware cat and his journey through life. Though not as compelling as The Tales of Hoffmann there was a lot to recommend this work of Fabulist Satire. Though considered his masterpiece, I found the Tales of Hoffmann more enjoyable -- but this is a personal choice and not meant to be read for an objective statement.

Essentially, it is the story of the self-taught cat Tomcat Murr who has written is own autobiography which,
I've been wanting to read this book ever since I read a collection of ETA Hoffmann's stories 2 years ago-ish. So far it is as enjoyable as I had hoped and expected it to be.


After finishing: I must say after the initial novelty of the form, characters and setting wore off, I didn't enjoy this book all that much and it was a struggle to see it through to the end. My main criticisms: The Kreisler plot is so convoluted and every time it begins to pick up, a Murr chapter breaks the momentum.
I am so glad I picked up this book (enticed by the cover engraving of the handsome titular cat). Murr will make you laugh out loud. Highlights were his encounters with Ponto the poodle, especially their first meeting. The other story, about the composer Kreisler, was not as immediately accessible but soon pulled me in. It's really a pretty amazing technical feat for Hoffman to have pulled together these two stories that are so different in tone in such a way that they're pretty much equally enjo ...more
Brian Baker
Sometimes one good book leads to another, and as 'Tomcat Murr' is referenced in a recent favourite of mine - Andrew Crumey's 'Mobius Dick'- I thought I'd give it a go. It's a really nice idea: two manuscripts, one a satirical biography of a tortured musician and the other an autobiography of an educated cat, get accidentally spliced together at the printers ( so that's where Calvino got his idea from ) into a single book whose narratives constantly interrupt eachother. The problem I found, howev ...more
Vit Babenco
Cats are disdainful creatures so in their judgments of humanity they show no quarter…
“I don’t see why an agreeable domestic pet with a happy natural disposition shouldn’t be taught to read and write, or indeed why such a little creature couldn’t rise to become a scholar and poet. Is that so unprecedented a thing? I won’t go so far as to quote the Thousand and One Nights as the best historical source, and a source full of pragmatic authenticity; I will just remind you, my dear fellow, of Puss in
Fabulous! I just wish that Hoffmann had lived long enough to write the third book/section. We're left with a cliffhanger that will never be resolved (although I can imagine all sorts of fan fiction possibilities).

The stories of both Murr and Kreisler are fragmentary, fun, suspenseful, action-filled romps. And with all of that, they also contain fantastical and gothic elements.

I will need to read this again so that I can better explain the ways this book works for me.
Good but it could have been better if the two stories didn't keep breaking off when the story was getting interesting. The story about the music master was the more convoluted plot, with strange characters and plot devices which appear frequently in books of this age.
They have a party tonight in Königsberg - Mr E. T. A. Hoffmann and his friends the writers: The Tomcat Murr, Edgar Poe, Gogol, Franz Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Bulgakov, Marquez and Calvino.
Vaida Dryžaitė
Vos išvydusi šįmetinėj Knygų mugėj šį romaną, kaip kreizi kačių moteraitė tiesiog negalėjau neįtraukti jo į savo Knygų-Kurias-Reikia-Perskaityt-Kuo-Greičiau-Arba-Antraip-Ateis-Pasaulio-Pabaiga-Sąrašą. Taigi, XIX a. vokiečių romantiko Hoffmano romanas, drąsiai ir ne šiaip sau vadinamas klasika. Originalus siužetas (iš tiesų, iki tol neteko nieko tokio skaityti), susipynusios dvi tokių skirtingų ir drauge tokių panašių herojų istorijos, keliamos meno, mokslo, religijos problematikos - tai daro kūr ...more
One of the first magical realist novels and 'one of the strangest novel of the nineteenth century'. A fun read with some surreal moments and some rather rambling bits that ended up being a little tiring. Some bits were laugh-out-loud hilarious (hint hint!) with a little more than a sprinkling of gothic horror plus some very tear-jerking moments (especially if you are a cat lover, which Hoffman was). The introduction is very interesting and worth a read too, but I would read it after the reading ...more
Если судить по названию, то можно предположить, что это прадедушка "Записок кота Шашлыка". Но нет. Точнее, не только.
Записки кота как будто бы являются основным поводом к книге. Как водится (хотя скорее всего именно Гофман и ввёл эту традицию), мир с точки зрения тщеславного самодовольного кота достаточно понятен и ограничен. Еда - женщины - кошки - самовыражение - отношения с хозяином - отношения с обществом (котовым и собачьим). Вот и всё. Хотя при этом автору удаётся даже в кошачьи главы впих
This was a strange one. Two interwoven and overlapping stories, one written by a cat about his life and adventures and the other a version of 19th century courtly melodrama. Both were widely interspersed with rambles on Art, Music, Poetry and so on, which made them hard to wade through at times. But there were also sections of sublime foolishness and flights of whimsy (the cat duel is a doozy). I think of this one as fibre in my mental diet. 2.5/5
Ann Klefstad
this dazzling performance proves that recursiveness and postmodernism have occurred time and time again, and are sometimes performed with blood in their veins, positively effervescent blood! This is a wonderful and perplexingly overlooked book.
Loved this book. I get the impression that folks are more familiar with Hoffmann's other works (The Sandman, Tales from Hoffmann etc.) but this too is a gem. Well worth reading if you have an interest in the literary fantastic!

Recensione che avevo scritto per l'edizione italiana, aggiornata con quella per questa edizione tedesca:
Hugh Ashton
A truly extraordinary book. It appeals to my sense of a fiction within a fiction, which is a device I've used myself for my Sherlock Holmes books, and I've always enjoyed this sort of complexity.
The delightful way that the two stories in this book interleave is pure magic. The tomcat's observations on life made me laugh out loud several times, and the counter-thread of the other story - the fictional Romantic composer Kreisler - gripped me as a psychological horror/thriller story of the first r
Britta Simon
Ironic, touching, an excellent book. One half a persiflage on Goethe (Tomcat Murr can be read as a parody of Goethe moving from his period of Storm & Stress to the safe haven of Classisicm), the other half an exquisite love story. The Murr episode also nicely illustrates Hegel's description of a Bildungsroman, "In he modern world, the hero's struggles are nothing more than years of apprenticeship" [...]. "The end of such apprenticeship consists in this, that the subject sows his wild oats, a ...more
This is becoming rather irritating, than being unusual and moreover, even a bit unreal and live at the same time. Cat's feelings and tales are tedious and monotonous. Well, have to admit this is still unbelievably talented creature, which in turn does allow us to judge him differently and the result of this judgement is not in his favour.
Human drama and feelings are just the opposite throughout the book. From being annoyingly artificial, chatacters blossom to the end of it.
Another regret is that
This is one of the few editions (or the only one?) that has the original and full story of the book, even though it's Reclam. It's the best edition of this book I have found so far.

E.T.A. Hoffmann never ceases to amaze me; what he managed to do with this book is something I have not seen/read since.

It was very confusing at first, but once I had sorted the book into two parts, it got less confusing and actually understood what the author was trying to do.

I can only recommend it to students of Ger
Очень милая философская вещь для подростков.
Kit Kincade
Because German Romanticism!
My book of the year, 2012! Difficult to persevere with but well worth it. The memoirs of Tom Cat Murr make the most amusing reading but the biographical life of the musician is typical 19 century European Romanticism with not so typical irony. A quirky, comical, surreal unfinished masterpiece!
I just couldn't finish this. Not only was the type font frustratingly small, but apparently my brain is, too - or maybe I just don't read 'cat' well. I found it confusing as hell. :P

Thanks, Mike, for the lovely gift. I'm sorry I couldn't do it justice.
My friend's German boyfriend was impressed that I was even attempting to read this, so points for that. It's whimsical and amusing, but I think it gets tiresome after a while. Also, unsatisfying ending much! I don't think that's giving anything away.
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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
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