A Study of the Major Novellas of E.T.A. Hoffmann (Studies in by Birgit Röder

By Birgit Röder

The German Romantic author and composer E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) -- probably top identified to the English-speaking global via his Nutcracker and during Jacques Offenbach's opera Tales of Hoffmann -- struggled to persuade his predominantly bourgeois public of the benefits of paintings and literature. no longer unusually, a lot of his most crucial novellas are sure up with the dilemmas of paintings and the demanding situations confronted by way of the Romantic artist, and it's those Künstlernovellen which are the point of interest of this learn. Birgit Röderargues that Hoffmann's artists are usually not easily people who create artistic endeavors, yet fairly figures via whom the writer explores the concern of these who reject the traditional global of bourgeois fact and search to say the claims of the mind's eye in a global ruled through prosaic rationalism. opposite to prior students although, Röder demonstrates that Hoffmann's novellas basically warn opposed to a view of paintings as an independent aesthetic realm bring to an end from the area of fact. this can be rather obvious in Röder's research of gender kin in Hoffmann's oeuvre -- specifically the connection among (male) artist and (female) muse -- which underlines the level to which artwork, literature, and the mind's eye are inseparably sure up with the present social truth. The novellas which are given broad attention are Das Fräulein von Scuderi, Der Sandmann, Die Jesuiterkirche in G., Die Fermate, Der Artushof, Don Juan, Das Sanctus, and Rat Krespel.

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All of his unfocused longing suddenly becomes channeled: he idolizes the woman, attributes divine qualities to her, and, in so doing, robs her of her own personality and destroys her sense of self. He sees her only in terms of his own longing, not as she is in reality. Friedrich Schlegel recognizes this when he writes: Das Geliebte zu vergöttern, ist die Natur des Liebenden. Aber ein andres ist es, mit gespannter Imagination ein fremdes Bild unterschieben und eine reiche Vollkommenheit anstaunen, die uns nur darum als solche erscheint, weil wir noch nicht gebildet genug sind, um die unendliche Fülle der menschlichen Natur zu begreifen und die Harmonie ihrer Widersprüche zu verstehn.

Although the artist may believe that he has discovered the embodiment of the Ideal in a particular woman and through her has gained access to the metaphysical realm of the Ideal, it is important not to underestimate the contribution made by latent sexual desire in his idealization of woman. In the final analysis, the artist is not simply a disembodied spirit, but a real human being of flesh and blood. With this in mind, it is striking in Hoffmann’s novellas how often the artists are young men with little experience of sexual relations.

The bouts of madness (“Verrücktheiten”) which Hoffmann refers to here are feelings of melancholy stemming from the knowledge that his longing was doomed to remain unfulfilled. ” Indeed, looking back at the incident, Hoffmann went so far as to draw a parallel between the essence of art and this idealized image of woman, acknowledging that in loving Julia Marc, he had not fallen in love with an ideal 71 woman but with the ideal of art. In literature as in life, Hoffmann wrestled with the Romantic dilemma, probing and analyzing the nature of the Ideal — the ideal of love, of art, or a synthesis of the two.

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