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By E. T. A. Hoffman. NATHANAEL TO LOTHAIR. I know you are all very uneasy because I have not written for such a long, long time. Mother, to be sure, is angry, . The Sandman is coming, I can see.” And certainly on all these occasions I heard something with a heavy, slow step go bouncing up the stairs. That I thought. E.T.A. Hoffmann has to be one of my favourite authors and The Sandman is one of my favourite of Hoffmann’s stories, it is also the most famous.

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It was really just an excuse to include the luxurious illustrations by Mario Laboccetta in a post. I intend to do the same with every story in the book but it is a time-consuming process which involves scanning pictures from an old book whilst trying not to damage it, cleaning the scans, re-reading the story and then posting a review or summary of the story.

So below is a plot summary of The Sandman and not a review. If you do not want to know the plot then do not read all of the text. I have added the scans in a reasonably high definition so if you click on the picture you should be able to view the picture enlarged.

In a letter to his friend Lothario, Nathaniel tells of a recent meeting with a barometer salesman, called Coppola, that has upset him. To explain why he is so upset he tells Lothario about his childhood. After supper his father would often tell sanvman children tales or they would be left to read by themselves.

Hoffmanj sandman is coming. This made Nathaniel terrified of the sandman, even when he was old enough to know that the story could not be true. Coppelius and his father were involved in some alchemical experiments. Nathaniel took weeks to recover from this shock. Coppelius did not visit his father again until a tt later, whereupon the children were rushed to bed.

In his letter Nathaniel reveals that his recent visitor was Coppelius, or so he believes. She urges Nathaniel to dismiss the fantastic thoughts from his mind. In another letter to Lothario, this time addressed correctly, Nathaniel appears calmer. He is attending lectures by Spalanzani, a professor in physics, who has known Coppola for years and who convinces Nathaniel that Coppola cannot be Sandkan. She was sitting opposite the door, so that I saw the whole of her angelic face.

She seemed hpffmann to notice me, and her eyes had in general something fixed and staring about them, I could almost say she was sightless, as if she was sleeping with her eyes open. It made me feel quite uncanny, and I crept softly away…. Nathaniel discovers that Spalanzani keeps Olympia locked away from others. The narrative now switches to the third-person. Clara is described as sensible and level-headed although others sometimes view her as cold and unfeeling.


Nathaniel tries to convince Clara that Copellius is an evil force but Clara is not convinced and tries to get Nathaniel to banish such thoughts from his mind. Now reconciled with Clara, Nathaniel returns to his studies. Nathaniel finds that his student house has burnt down and so he finds new accommodation. He w her beautiful but his heart is with Clara. One day Nathaniel dandman visited by Coppola. Nathaniel is invited to a party, hosted by Spalanzani, at which Olympia will be present.

The Sandman (short story) – Wikipedia

Nathaniel, however, is besotted and cannot turn his eyes away. Nathaniel dances again and again with Olympia and between dances they sit together while Spalanzani looks on, smiling at the couple. Spalanzani allows Nathaniel to visit his daughter in future. However, when he arrives the house is in an uproar, Spalanzani and Coppola are arguing. It is at this point that Spalanzani explicitly reveals, what every reader must have realised long before now, that Olympia is an automaton. Circle of fire, circle of fire!

Spalanzani survives the attack from Nathaniel but has to leave the city. But the minds of many esteemed gentlemen were still not set at rest: To be quite convinced they were not in love with a wooden doll, many enamoured young men demanded that their young ladies should sing and dance in a less than perfect manner, that while being read to they should knit, sew, play with their puppy and so on, but above all that they should not merely listen but sometimes speak too, and in such a way that what they said gave evidence of some real thinking and feeling behind it.

So, Nathaniel recovers and is reunited with his mother and Clara. He tries to throw Clara off the tower but she clings on. Lothario manages to save Clara but leaves Nathaniel at the top of the tower.

Coppelius disappears into the crowd. Filed under FictionHoffmann, E.

There are another r stories in the book. I better knuckle down and do some scanning…. Like Liked by 1 person. My understanding is that in the original folk story the Sandman was more benevolent.


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The Sandman by ETA Hoffmann – review

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The Sandman (short story)

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