Letter One is from Nathanael to Lothar. Nathanael recounts in detail a traumatic event in his childhood, brought to memory by a recent interaction with a mechanic named Coppola while away at university. Nathanael says that he knows Lothar and Clara may find him childish or crazily superstitious, but that he must tell the story. Nathanael tells Lothar that though he saw little of his father, he and his brothers and sisters would gather around him after dinner; on some nights his father would tell stories and on some nights he would just sit silently, while his mother would stew in melancholy and send the children to bed early, saying that the Sandman was coming. He hears steps approach and the door open, and when he peeks from behind the curtain he sees that the Sandman was truly a man named Coppelius who sometimes ate lunch with the family.
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He wrote 49 tales and two novels, composed eight operas, and was also a productive music critic and a conductor.
Apart from his life as an artist, he was intermittently employed in the domain of law and criminal justice for nearly 20 years. Late in his life he served as a judge in an appellate court; he was also actively engaged in the very first legal debates about the insanity defense.
Well-read in the medical literature about madness, he knew his own demons but he was not mentally deranged. As one of the leading writers of fantastic fiction, however, he kept exploring the porous boundaries between sanity and madness, between everyday reality and sudden, unsettling intrusions of the supernatural into our familiar world. His work influenced poets, writers, choreographers, and composers of music and of opera across the 19th and 20th centuries.
He presents these encounters as deeply embedded in the world of bourgeois familial intimacy, which gives them a concrete historical reality. But Hoffmann also weaves through his tales a deep engagement with the arts — with storytelling, masquerade, dance, and music — which introduces complex patterns of marvellous surprises, grotesque distortions, and fantastic twists and turns. These make the reader wonder about the status of such materialisations from the most terrifying, ridiculous, and ardently desired dreams of our childhood.
The doll that might be actually alive when she sings and dances, or the larger-than-life mice that come at night and threaten to bite the beautiful princess, whose parents offended them, these grotesque and uncanny elements are already externalizations.
These quite wonderful performances and adaptations show us something familiar about the practice of translation. In most cases the shelf life of a translation is much shorter than that of the original. Consequently, translations need to be redone and updated by returning to the original.
The Sandman (short story)
Todesgott anspielt. Er verkauft Nathanael ein Perspektiv. Lothar: Bruder Claras und Freund Nathanaels. Inhalt[ Bearbeiten Quelltext bearbeiten ] Zeichnung von E.
The Sandman: tale of madness and trauma still haunts, 200 years on
Plot summary[ edit ] The story is told by a narrator who claims to have known Lothar. It begins by quoting three letters: 1. Nathanael recalls his childhood terror of the legendary Sandman, who was said to steal the eyes of children who would not go to bed and feed them to his own children who lived in the moon. Nathanael came to associate the Sandman with a mysterious nightly visitor to his father.