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The Tales of Hoffmann

I just read "The Golden Pot" (Der Goldne Topf)by E.T.A Hoffmann written in 1814. The plot which is almost impossible to summarise begins in Dresden when the clumsy student, Anselmus, accidentally upsets a basket of wares belonging to an old apple-woman who curses him Yes run you child of Satan. Run into the crystal which will be your downfall. From that point Anselmus lives in a world where he can't distinguish reality from fantasy. He is in love with several girls some of whom appear to be snakes, his employer, who emplyes him as a calligrapher, appears to be a salamander. Eventually he is imprisoned in a glass bottle. It's highly entertaining and utterly fantastic. And very much a product of the Romantic imagination. I was reminded of Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and parts of Goethe's "Faust".  Hoffmann was also a composer and conductor and idolised Mozart. The A is his initials stands for Amadeus which he adopted as homage to M. It seems that "The Golden Pot", with its tasks to be performed before gaining the prize, was influenced by "The Magic Flute".  It was good to read this story from a period of German literature that I know almost nothing about.

Hoffmann seems an interesting guy  who lived
at a time when Napoleon and his armies were
rampageing through  Europe... French troops occupying
Berlin  etc.

 He seems to have been very talented in music
as well as  short story writing ..
composing  canticles  etc  

 But his life became  dissolute fuelled by
 He died in 1822   age  46


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