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Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann

Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (born January 24, 1776 in Köenigsberg, Prussia; died June 25, 1822), was a German romantic and fantasy author and composer. His "Tales of Hoffman[?]" was the source for a musical piece by Jacques Offenbach.

Hoffman is one of the most well-known representatives of German romanticism, and a pioneer of the fantasy genre. He influenced such authors as Franz Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and Nikolai Gogol. His works often combined realism and fantasy; he illuminates the darker side of the human spirit found behind the hypocritical harmony of bourgeouis life.

His father was an Advokat and E.T.A. studied at the Gymnasium in Königsberg. He then worked as a Referendar in Glogau Silesia and in Berlin in Brandenburg and next in Posen. He was transferred to Plotzk (Poland). In 1805 he moved again to Berlin, where he could further his talent as an artist and writer. Since 1814 he held a position at the Kammergericht, the chamber court. In 1822 he died in Berlin.

He wrote novels and short stories, and he composed.

His currently most popular story is: "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King", set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

This cute story is full of charming phantasies with Clara, Fritz and Herr Drosselmayr, the mean Mouseking and the popular Nutcracker. Many children's version books of the Nutcracker have been published.

The Ballet performances have become a yearly feature in many cities around Christmas time.

However when you read the original text of E.T.A. Hoffmann's story, you soon realize that it was actually a story thought of and written at a politically very sensitive time. Comparable messages were expressed in earlier animal stories such as Reinicke Fuchs or Aesop's Fables.

Some of Hoffmann's works:

  • Die Elixiere des Teufels
  • Nachtstuecke
  • Seltsame Leiden eines Theaterdirektors
  • Klein Zaches genannt Zinnober
  • Lebensansichten des Kater Murr
  • Die Irrungen
  • Die Geheimnisse

Some well-known works:

  • "Der goldene Topf" (a fabel, 1814)
  • Die Elixiere des Teufels (2 volumes, 1815/16)
  • Fantasiestücke in Callot's Manier (4 volumes, 1814/15)
  • Nachtstücke (2 volumes, 1816/17)
  • "Das Fräulein von Scudéry" (short story, 1819)
  • Die Serapions-Brüder (4 volumes, 1819-21)
  • Lebensansichten des Katers Murr (2-volume fragment, 1819-21)

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