El's Reviews > Tales of Hoffmann

Tales of Hoffmann by E.T.A. Hoffmann
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Sep 19, 2011

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bookshelves: 19th-centurylit-early, cuckoos, horror
Read from September 19 to 24, 2011

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 evidenced by some of the more... obnoxious reactions of the characters. But the story is freak-tastic, and the words "lov-ely occe" is sufficiently disturbing to me. And, for those of you keeping track, there's even a duel:
He ran to Nathaniel, in harsh words he reporached him for his senseless behavior towards his beloved sister, and Nathaniel, provoked, replied in kind. Lothario called Nathaniel a crazy, fantastical coxcomb; Nathaniel retaliated by calling Lothario a wretched, commonplace fellow. A duel was unavoidable: in accordance with the academic custom there obtaining, they resolved to meet one another the following morning behind the garden with sharpened foils.
Who knew that calling someone a "commonplace fellow" could be fightin' words? I've called some people worse. I guess I should be happy to be alive and unblemished from any sharpened foils.


And... I totally failed at updating every time I finished a story. Suck it.

The whole thing is okay, but some stories are definitely better than others. The Sandman is my favorite, but The Entail and The Mines at Falun were fun as well. The last story, The Choosing of the Bride, was pretty great too, with lots of references to The Merchant of Venice. And, in this last story, there's a somewhat premonition to the Kindle! (Or so I like to say.) (view spoiler)

Pretty fantastic stories (in the fantasy sense), lots of crazies in his work, many of them with dual personalities which the Introduction mentions as being sort of expected as Hoffmann himself was like that. "A lawyer by day and creator of a world of fantasy by night, Hoffmann (1776-1822) lived a Jekyll and Hyde existence".

But what do you expect from the guy who wrote Nutcracker? There's a freaking Mouse King for crying out loud.


And for those of you keeping track along with me, though this isn't what I would necessarily consider conventional fantasy, it fits the bill and there were stories involving tournaments and feasts. Maybe my mission should be to find a fantasy book that doesn't involve one of those things?
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Reading Progress

09/19/2011 page 36
9.0% "Those Romantics know how to curse a person: "Now may Satan torment you with a hundred hot pincers and hang three hundredweight on the necklace so that your bride may choke!" Much better than the "your Mom" jokes of the 20th century." 1 comment
05/05/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Charity (new)

Charity Oooh, I have this one, too! Can't wait to hear what you think!


message 2: by El (last edited Sep 19, 2011 06:34AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

El I am so excited about this! Hoffmann was a pretty interesting fellow - the introduction refers to him as "a two-sided, schizophrenic kind of man". Hah!

I'm a little disappointed that the GR cover is different than mine. I guess I have an older edition with the same ISBN - mine actually has Der arme Poet on the cover, which I love.


message 3: by Charity (new)

Charity Oh yes, love that cover! Mine is the current Penguin edition shown with the naked peeps.

That description of Hoffmann really makes the book that much more appealing (if that's possible). Might have to pick this up after I read the Diane Arbus book.


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