No literature can produce a more original writer than Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (1776 1822), a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, better known by his pen name E. T. A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann). His works are very numerous and were published at Berlin in fifteen volumes. He is the subject and hero of Jacques Offenbach's famous but fictional opera The Tales of Hoffmann.---Of the two tales in this book, "The Sandman" is from the collection "Night Pieces," and The Elementary Spirit is from his "Later Works." In these stories, Hoffmann's purpose is to point out the ill-effect of a morbid desire after an imaginary world, and a distaste for realities. Different as their adventures are, there is a striking similarity in the characters of Nathaniel (in "The Sandman") and Victor (in "The Elementary Spirit"). However wild may be the subjects of Hoffmann, and however rambling his method of treating them, his style is remarkably lucid.---The story of the Sandman had its origin in a discussion which actually took place between La Motte Fouque (a German writer of the romantic movement, 1777 1843) and some friends, at which Hoffmann was present. Some of the party found fault with the cold, mechanical deportment of a young lady of their acquaintance, while La Motte Fouque zealously defended her. Here Hoffmann caught the notion of the automaton Olympia, and the arguments used by Nathaniel are those that were employed by La Motte Fouque."
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