Philip Zyg's Reviews > Elixiere Des Teufels

Elixiere Des Teufels by E.T.A. Hoffmann
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's review
Oct 21, 2012

it was amazing
Read in October, 2012

Not the most popular or best-known Hoffmann, this long novel yet groans with his favourite themes: doppelganger, grotesque situations, coincidences and such. The reader may get lost after a while (it is an intricate plot, after all) but it is evidently one of the aims, if not the only one, of the author to rub out literary conventions in favour of a more feverish, nebulous atmosphere. We're in a dream or a nightmare in turn, characters not only switch names, they also take on different physical traits, personalities. To call the book a quest for identity would be ridiculous, since no fixed, rational identity is gained by the protagonist at the end of an ever-changing adventure, where murders are committed and innocents (?) sent to prison. The pleasure in reading Hoffmann is that it is Hoffmann, one of the very first investigators of the subconscious mind before Freud. Think of the impact his books must have had on his contemporaries!

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12/12/2011 page 202
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