By Birgit Röder
The German Romantic author and composer E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) -- maybe top recognized 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 advantages of paintings and literature. no longer unusually, a lot of his most vital novellas are certain up with the dilemmas of artwork and the demanding situations confronted by means of the Romantic artist, and it truly is those Künstlernovellen which are the point of interest of this examine. Birgit Röderargues that Hoffmann's artists will not be easily people who create artistic endeavors, yet relatively figures via whom the writer explores the difficulty of these who reject the normal international of bourgeois truth and search to say the claims of the mind's eye in a global ruled by way of prosaic rationalism. opposite to prior students notwithstanding, Röder demonstrates that Hoffmann's novellas basically warn opposed to a view of paintings as an self reliant aesthetic realm bring to a halt from the area of fact. this is often fairly obvious in Röder's research of gender family in Hoffmann's oeuvre -- specially the connection among (male) artist and (female) muse -- which underlines the level to which paintings, literature, and the mind's eye are inseparably certain up with the existing social truth. The novellas which are given vast 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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Additional resources for A Study of the Major Novellas of E.T.A. Hoffmann (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
T. A. Hoffmann: Epoche — Werk — Wirkung (Munich: Beck, 1986). 2 The attempt to define this essentially indefinable entity gave rise to a number of terms which do not seem to differ from one another in any substantial way. Hence I shall regard such terms as “das Absolute,” die “Idee,” “das Transzendentale,” “unendlicher Geist” and “das romantisch-poetische Geisterreich” (the latter being the term that Hoffmann uses most frequently) as roughly equivalent. 3 Thus in the Wissenschaftslehre, Fichte refers explicitly to the influence of Kant, even though his development of Kant’s ideas leads him to postulate theories that often have little in common with those of his mentor.
Whether Hoffmann is quite as free from the “lusts of the flesh” as Roters suggests is questionable; at any rate, he notes in his diary that he has committed “geistigen Ehebruch,” Tagebücher, 124 (18 March 1811). 65 Tagebücher, 205 (11 May 1813), 209 (30 May 1813), 210 (31 May 1813), and 211 (8 June 1813). 36 E HOFFMANN AND THE ROMANTIC DILEMMA 66 NS III, 601. 67 Tagebücher, 159 (4 May 1812). 68 Tagebücher, 162 (29 June 1812). 69 Tagebücher, 152 (29 April 1812). Tagebücher, 170 (13 August 1812).
It is far more than that: it enables him to transcend his own being and to be resigned to the sobering fact that his work will inevitably fall short of the original idea that inspired its creation. That is to say, the artist must adopt an ironic perspective on his own work if he is to free himself from illusion. Thus in Schlegel’s essay on Wilhelm Meister, we read that: Wir müssen uns über unsre eigne Liebe erheben, und was wir anbeten, in Gedanken vernichten können: sonst fehlt uns, was wir auch für andre Fähigkeiten haben, der Sinn für das Unendliche und mit ihm der Sinn 23 für die Welt.