E. T. A. Hoffmann

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This collection of essays addresses a very broad range of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s most significant works, examining them through the lens of “transgression.” Transgression bears relevance to Hoffmann’s life and professions in three ways. First, his official career path was that of jurisprudence; he was active as a lawyer, a judge and eventually as one of the most important magistrates in Berlin. Second, his personal life was marked by numerous conflicts with political and social authorities. Seemingly no matter where he went, he experienced much chaos, grief and impoverishment in leading his always precarious existence. Third, his works explore characters and concepts beyond the boundaries of what was considered aesthetically acceptable. “Normal” bourgeois existence was often juxtaposed to the lives of criminals, sinners, and other deviants, both within the spaces of the known world as well as in supernatural realms. He, perhaps more than any other author of the German Romantic movement, regularly portrayed the dark side of existence in his works, including unconscious psychological phenomena, nightmares, somnambulism, vampirism, mesmerism, Doppelgänger, and other forms of transgressive behavior. It is the intention of this volume to provide a new look at Hoffmann’s very diverse body of work from numerous perspectives, stimulating interest in Hoffmann in English language audiences.


'This new resource is both enjoyable and thoroughly thought-provoking—and so is well worth consultation by faculty and students.'
Seán Williams, European Romantic Review

'Transgressive Romanticism engages its central spatial metaphor to make Hoffmann’s complex potential as a protorealist clear: expertly attuned to the forms of life and literature with which he was familiar, while always ready to subvert and think beyond them.'
Polly Dickson, German Studies Review

Author Information

Christopher R. Clason is Emeritus Professor of German at Oakland University. He is the editor of E. T. A. Hoffman: Transgressive Romanticism (2018) and co-editor of Romantic Automata: Exhibitions, Figures, Organisms (2020), Romantic Rapports: New Essays on Romanticism Across the Disciplines (2017) and Literary and Poetic Representations of Work and Labor in Europe and Asia during the Romantic Era (2011).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures7
Notes on Contributors11
I. Transgression and Institutions31
1. “A poor, imprisoned animal.” Persons, Property, and the Unnatural Nature of the Law in E.T.A Hoffman's "Das Majorat"33
2. Vergiftete Gaben: Violating the Laws of Hospitality in E.T.A. Hoffman's Das Fräulein von Scuderi”59
3. Transgressive Science in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Fantastic Tales79
II Transgression and the Arts93
4. E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Bamberg Theater95
5. Transitions and Slippages of Mimesis in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “Der goldene Topf,” “Die Fermate,” and “Das öde Haus”110
6. Transgressions: On the (De-)Figuration of the Vampire in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s "Vampyrismus"128
III. Transgression in the Märchen147
7. Transgressive Play and Uncanny Toys in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “Das fremde Kind”149
8. Attending to the Everyday: Idiosyncrasy in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “Der goldene Topf”165
9. Prinzessin Brambilla: The Aesthetic between Public and Private183
IV. Transgression of Reception in Kater Murr203
10. Hoffmann’s “Two Worlds” and the Problem of Life-Writing205
11. “Real Humor Cannot Be Captured in a Novel”: Kierkegaard Reading E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr226
Works Cited243