A Study of the Major Novellas of E.T.A. Hoffmann

A Study of the Major Novellas of E.T.A. Hoffmann

Birgit Röder


Camden House



Analysis of the novellas of the German Romantic writer and composer, focusing on the issues of art and the artist.
The German Romantic writer and composer E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) -- perhaps best known to the English-speaking world through his Nutcracker and through Jacques Offenbach's opera Tales of Hoffmann -- struggled to convince his predominantly bourgeois public of the merits of art and literature. Not surprisingly, many of his most important novellas are bound up with the dilemmas of art and the challenges faced by the Romantic artist, and it is these Künstlernovellen that are the focus of this study. Birgit Röderargues that Hoffmann's artists are not simply individuals who create works of art, but rather figures through whom the author explores the predicament of those who reject the conventional world of bourgeois reality and seek to assert the claims of the imagination in a world dominated by prosaic rationalism. Contrary to previous scholars however, Röder demonstrates that Hoffmann's novellas clearly warn against a view of art as an autonomous aesthetic realm cut off from the world of reality. This is particularly apparent in Röder's analysis of gender relations in Hoffmann's oeuvre -- especially the relationship between (male) artist and (female) muse -- which underlines the extent to which art, literature, and the imagination are inseparably bound up with the prevailing social reality. The novellas that are given extensive consideration are Das Fräulein von Scuderi, Der Sandmann, Die Jesuiterkirche in G., Die Fermate, Der Artushof, Don Juan, Das Sanctus, and Rat Krespel.

Birgit Röder teaches German language and literature at the University of Reading, UK.


February 2003
207 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571132710
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT018000
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Table of Contents

Hoffmann and the Romantic Dilemma
Das Fräulein von Scuderi
Der Sandmann
Die Jesuiterkirche in G.
Die Fermate
Der Artushof
Don Juan
Das Sanctus
Rat Krespel
Works Consulted


The book serves as a helpful, well-researched introduction and resource for Hoffmann's short fiction. CHOICE

...succeeds as an introduction to the many texts in which Hoffmann's artists struggle in the Romantic conflict that pits the ideal against the mundane. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

(Röder's) chapter on "Don Juan" is ... the intellectual apex of the book. Here Röder dazzles us with the most sinuous extrapolation of various dialectical oppositions in the text, all generated by Mozart's music.... MONATSHEFTE

Following a well documented introduction to the critical literature on Hoffmann, Röder provides a precise and clear analysis... of what she terms "the romantic dilemma." ETUDES GERMANIQUES

Röder's book offers a fine introduction to the tales of Hoffmann for those with a reading knowledge of German.... (It) is both a solid contribution and an invitation for more work on an author too often neglected. GOETHE YEARBOOK

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