->''“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 [[Music/WolfgangAmadeusMozart 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, UsefulNotes/{{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 UsefulNotes/TheNapoleonicWars, 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 [[UsefulNotes/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 UsefulNotes/{{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/JohannWolfgangVonGoethe 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 Music/LudwigVanBeethoven – 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:

[[AC: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 Artushof"
* "The Entail"
* "Mademoiselle de Scuderi"
* "The Mines of Falun"
* "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King": Best known as the basis for Tchaikovsky's ''Theatre/TheNutcracker'' ballet.
* "The Sandman"
* "The Golden Pot": A fairy tale novella.
* "[[http://www.michaelhaldane.com/kleinzaches.htm 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.

* ''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)

!!Works by E. T. A. Hoffmann with their own pages include:
* "Literature/TheArtushof"
* "Literature/TheEntail"
* ''Literature/TheLifeAndOpinionsOfTheTomcatMurr''
* "Literature/MademoiselleDeScuderi"
* "Literature/TheMinesOfFalun"
* "Literature/TheNutcracker"
* "Literature/TheSandman"

!!Other works by E. T. A. Hoffmann contain examples of:

* AerithAndBob: Hoffmann enjoyed peppering his words with weird names and titles. Some of them are obscure, others are latinate renderings of familiar names but expect to find his stories filled with the likes of Anselmus, Meradus, Lindhorst, Brambilla, Dapertutto alongside Antonia, Veronica, Tobias Martin and others.
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: [[invoked]] His story ''Don Juan'' introduces the idea that Donna Anna in Mozart's Theatre/DonGiovanni is secretly in love with Giovanni.
* AnachronicOrder: The Kreisler segments in ''The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr''.
* {{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.
* BettyAndVeronica: A common trope among Hoffmann male protagonists is a struggle between a down-to-earth normal girl and a more exotic and potentially dangerous woman: Klara and Olimpia in ''The Sandman'', the Narrator's Wife and Giulietta in ''A New Year Eve's Adventure''. His story ''The Golden Pot'' even has a girl named Veronica only here she's the Betty, while the Veronica for Anselmus is Serpentina.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: His character [[AuthorAvatar Johannes Kreisler]], a genius musician and composer but also [[CrazyAwesome legitimately insane]] and downright antisocial.
* {{Crossover}}: "Master Flea" briefly mentions Archivist Lindhorst, who is one of the main characters in "The Golden Pot".
* DirectLineToTheAuthor: In a send-up of this trope the conceit of ''Tomcat Murr'' is that Hoffmann was handed Murr's manuscript by an intermediary for publication, but that he neglected to examine the pile before he passed it on to the publisher. He thus only noticed that [[ScrapbookStory Murr's autograph manuscript was mixed up with fragments of the proofs of another book]], a biography of Kapellmeister Kreisler by another author when the ''Tomcat Murr'' was already set and it would have been too expensive to reset and remove the parts that "didn't belong".
* {{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. This commemorates the real-life ''Serapionsbrüder'', an informal Berlin-based group of friends that included, among others, Hoffmann and fellow writers [[UsefulNotes/DichterAndDenker Adelbert von Chamisso]] (''Peter Schlemihl'') and Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué (''Undine'').[[note]] The group took this name because when they reunited after a long interruption following Chamisso's circumnavigation of the Earth on board the Russian ship ''Rurik'', it happened to be on the day of St. Serapion, 14 November 1818.[[/note]]
* 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.
* {{Hypocrisy}}: ''Tomcat Murr'' opens with a stereotypically modest foreword by Murr -- signing "Murr (Etudiant en belles lettres)"[[note]] "Murr (student of writing)".[[/note]] -- in which he expresses the hope that his paltry effort will find mercy in the eyes of reviewers and readers. Unfortunately Murr forgot to remove the discarded first draught for the foreword -- signed "Murr (Homme de lettres très rennomé)"[[note]] "Murr (man of letters of great renown)."[[/note]] -- which then immediately follows. Here [[TwoFacedAside Murr expresses rather different sentiments]]:
--> Should anyone be bold enough to cast any doubt on the genuine worth of this extraordinary book he should remember that he is up against a tomcat who has wit, reason [[AppealToForce and sharp claws]].
* LongTitle: ''The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, together with a fragmentary Biography of Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Waste Paper''.
* MagicRealism: Many of his stories combine fantastic elements with realism. Can be considered an UrExample of the genre.
* MindScrew: Many of his stories deal with strange, weird, or supernatural happenings, without offering explanations. "The Deserted House" is particularly screwy.
* MoleInCharge: The mage Prosper Alpanus from ''Little Zaches, Great Zinnober'' says that during the Enlightenment, when all the fairies were being banished and their magical groves cut down, he did as much good as possible under the title of "Privy Supreme President of Enlightenment".
* RayGun: "Master Flea" features a telescope duel between two sorcerers/scientists.
* StealthParody: ''Tomcat Murr'', for the genius archetype in Romanticism. At the end of the day, Murr is nothing but a pretentious cat and Kreisler is nothing but an [[NoSocialSkills antisocial]] BunnyEarsLawyer lost amidst the nonsense of court etiquette.
* SweetPollyOliver: In The Artushof, one of the characters has his daughter dress as his son in hopes no young man will ever steal her away from him.
* 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.
* UnbuiltTrope: ''Tomcat Murr'' seems almost [[PostModernism postmodern]] to present-time readers due to its extensive irony, unusual form of two-novels in one (of which one has AnachronicOrder as well NoEnding), and [[WorldOfHam over-the-top characterization]].
* 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.