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Literature / The Mines of Falun

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"The Mines of Falun" (or "The Mines At Falun") is another short story written by E. T. A. Hoffmann. In yet another tale he spins a haunting tale with a bit of Mindscrew for good measure.

Our story follows a young man, Elis Frobom who is not happy with his life as a seaman anymore. He listens to a weird old guy about going to be a miner. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe if the guy is a ghost miner and he's about to be torn between love and career.


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This story provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Mine: Well more like a Haunted Mine, but do to certain quakes it does become abandoned from time to time.
  • All Just a Dream: Elis has a strange dream, that never really happened. It just happened to be symbolic to what would happen.
  • Arranged Marriage: Pehrson Dahlsjö pretends to put his daughter Ulla into one, but it's only really a trick to test if Elis really loves her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Elis dies on his wedding day in a mine cave-in, but Torbern tells Ulla she will see him again one year. Which she does, or at least his dead preserved body. She dies touching him and they are buried together 50 years later on the supposed wedding day.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Zig-zagged. He is going to marry the girl. But dies before he can. But she gets to die next to his dead preserved body so they could be buried together on their supposed wedding day (50 years later). So who "got" what, is a Mind Screw.
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  • Either/Or Title: While pretty easy to identify you may find translations of this story as "The Mines of Falun", "The Mines at Falun" or "The Mines in Falun".
  • Ghost Story: Elis gets told the truth about Torbern as turns out to be one.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Apparently there is a Queen of the underground that if you pledge your loyalty and life to she will help you find the right spots to dig out ores and minerals.
  • Magic Realism: It's a realistic set piece of well, the Mines of Falun, with ghosts and mythology involved.
  • Mind Screw: How much is in the mind Elis or it all supernatural hijinks.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Torbern is a ghost miner who will goad new miners to join the crew and tries to convince Elis to abandon the upper world and devote himself to the supposed queen of the underground.
  • Put on a Bus: The girl at the bar at the beginning of the story seems to be a fake set up as she does tell Elis he won't see her again in a week. But we never hear from her again for the rest of the story, period.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: While not dwelt upon, most of the cast are old miners, and Ulla is obviously pretty nice to look at. So she's probably this.

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