[[quoteright:260:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ETA_Hoffmann_3_8869.jpg]]

->''“Why should not a writer be permitted to make use of the levers of fear, terror and horror because some feeble soul here and there finds it more than it can bear? Shall there be no strong meat at table because there happen to be some guests there whose stomachs are weak, or who have spoiled their own digestions?”''
-->'''Cyprian''', ''The Serapion Brethren''

Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (1776-1822), better known by his pen name '''E. T. A. Hoffmann''' (he changed Wilhelm into Amadeus out of his admiration for {{Mozart}}), was a German author of the early 1800s, the early {{Romantic|ism}} era, known for his [[GothicHorror Gothic]] and fantastical stories.

Born in Königsberg, {{Prussia}} (today Kaliningrad, UsefulNotes/{{Russia}}), he became a lawyer, following the family tradition, though without much enthusiasm, as he was drawn to music, literature and the arts. He entered a career as a civil servant in Prussian UsefulNotes/{{Poland}}, held a position in Warsaw and had a young wife, when, in the course of NapoleonicWars, French troops captured the city in 1806 and forced the Prussian administration to flee.

This led to a [[RockBottom troubled time in Hoffmann’s life]] during which he faced poverty, separation from his wife, and the death of his infant daughter, while looking for employment all over [[AllTheLittleGermanies Germany]]. For the following years (spent in Bamberg, Leipzig and Dresden), Hoffmann worked as a theatre manager, music teacher, stagehand, decorator, playwright, and musical director, but neither of these jobs lasted so long or was so well paid as to put him out of financial troubles. In 1813, he was again overtaken by war when the family experienced the Battle of Dresden.

Nevertheless, Hoffmann in 1809/10 achieved breakthrough both as a writer and music critic. But only when a twist of fate allowed him to resume his civil service career in {{Berlin}}, he finally enjoyed financial security. He continued to write besides his day job, but alcohol abuse and syphilis – which he had contracted during his wandering years – led to his early death at the age of 46.

Hoffmann is Germany's foremost writer of what has later been called 'Dark Romanticism'. While his lighter works mix [[FairyTale fairy tale fantasy]] [[MagicRealism with realism]], others delve headlong into the grotesque, the uncanny, the supernatural, and horror. [[MindScrew Some are simply weird.]] At the same time, Hoffmann also relished sophisticated satire, self-parody, and wry, ironic humor. You're right, Hoffmann was an European version of [[Creator/EdgarAllanPoe Poe]] before there was Poe.

During his life (and long afterwards as well) he remained a polarizing writer. His taste for {{Ghost Stor|y}}ies brought him the derisive nickname "Gespenster-Hoffmann" (Ghosts-Hoffmann), Creator/{{Goethe}} called his fiction “sick”, and Creator/WalterScott likewise ended a 1827 review of his works with the conclusion that Hoffmann should have [[CausticCritic sought medical help.]] Notwithstanding, Hoffmann’s fiction played a key role for 19th century {{Fantasy}}, {{Horror}}, and the emerging [[MysteryFiction Mystery]] genre.

Hoffmann's literary fame has also overshadowed that in his own time, he was a fairly respected music critic – particularly known for his reviews of {{Beethoven}} – and himself a composer of Romantic music; his probably most ambitious and successful work being the opera ''Undine''.

Several creators have cast a fictionalized Hoffmann as a character in their works, such as Creator/AlexandreDumas in ''Literature/TheWomanWithTheVelvetNecklace'' and Jacques Offenbach in his opera [[Theatre/TheTalesOfHoffmann ''The Tales of Hoffmann'' (''Les Contes d'Hoffmann'')]], which itself has seen several adaptations.

!! Works of E. T. A. Hoffmann include:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Stories and Novellas ]]
[[note]]Mostly contained in three collections published during his life: ''Fantasy Pieces in Callot's Manner'', ''Night Pieces'', and ''The Serapion Brethren''.[[/note]]
* "The Golden Pot": A fairy tale novella.
* "Literature/TheNutcrackerAndTheMouseKing": Best known as the basis for Tchaikovsky's ''Theatre/TheNutcracker'' ballet.
* "Literature/TheSandman": The most famous of his short stories.
* "Mademoiselle de Scuderi": A MurderMystery (but not yet a detective story).
* "Little Zaches, Great Zinnober": a fairy tale about the FakeUltimateHero taken UpToEleven.
* "Master Flea": Another fairy tale... although, for its time, it might just as well be science fiction.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Novels ]]

* ''The Devil’s Elixir'': A Gothic novel, directly inspired by M. G. Lewis' ''Literature/TheMonk''.
* ''The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, together with a fragmentary Biography of Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Waste Paper'' (unfinished)

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!! Tropes in the works of E. T. A. Hoffmann:

* {{Astrologer}}: A frequent trope.
* AuthorAvatar: Theodor in the FrameStory of ''The Serapion Brethren''. Also, to a degree, Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler, a character that had started out as a pseudonym Hoffmann used as a music critic, and became a protagonist in ''Kreisleriana'' (a cycle of short stories) and ''Tomcat Murr''.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: Invoked -- in failing health, Hoffmann abandoned writing ''The Life and Opinions of Tomcat Murr''. His pet cat, also named Murr and an inspiration for the story, had died. The book was published with a note saying that its "author", Murr, had left it unfinished at his death.
* BeastFable: ''The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr'' obviously owes much to this genre.
* {{Crossover}}: "Master Flea" briefly mentions Archivist Lindhorst, who is one of the main characters in "The Golden Pot".
* DirectLineToTheAuthor: In ''Tomcat Murr'', Hoffmann pretends to be merely the publisher of Murr's manuscript.
* {{Doppelganger}}: His signature trope.
* FakeUltimateHero: Zaches.
* FingerSnapLighter: Archivist Lindhorst once lit a few pipes that way.
* FramingDevice: The story collection ''The Serapion Brethren'' has a circle of friends telling stories as a framing device.
* HotSkittyOnWailordAction: the main antagonist of "The Golden Pot" is stated to be a child of a dragon's feather and a sugar beet. Just try to imagine that.
* KissMeImVirtual: The protagonist of "The Sandman", Nathanael, falls in love with a woman who, unbeknownst to him, is actually an "automaton".
* MagicRealism: Many of his stories combine fantastic elements with realism.
* MindScrew: Many of his stories deal with strange, weird, or supernatural happenings, without offering explanations. There are reams of interpretations of "The Sandman", including one by Freud. "The Deserted House" is even screwier.
* [[LongTitle Overly Long Title]]: ''The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, together with a fragmentary Biography of Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Waste Paper''.
* RayGun: "Master Flea" features a telescope duel between two sorcerers/scientists.
* RoboticReveal: Olimpia in "The Sandman".
* [[ShownTheirWork Shown His Work]]: Hoffmann did a lot of research to faithfully recreate 17th century Paris in "Mademoiselle de Scuderi", and it shows.
* TalkingAnimal: Hoffmann had already used the trope several times (for example, in "News of the Latest Fortunes of the Hound Berganza"), when Tomcat Murr took it one step farther by being a ''Writing'' Animal.
* WickedWitch: ''The Golden Pot'', which was quite popular in an English translation during the early 19th century, was the TropeCodifier for this trope in English-speaking countries. The very wicked witch in the tale is a wrinkly old woman with the missing teeth that make her pointed nose almost meet her pointed chin, wearing a tall black hat, has a spooky black cat that she talks to, lives in a small cottage full of taxidermied animals and such, and cooks up a potion in a cauldron as a "love" charm for the young woman who comes to see her.

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