Edited and translated by R. J. Hollingdale.
A lawyer by day and creator of a world of fantasy by night, Hoffman lived a Jekyll and Hyde existence. Many of the characters in his stories are subject to a similar split personality.
The duality of his nature is frequently reflected in some of his characters-Cardillac the goldsmith in Mademoiselle de Scudery and Nathaniel in The Sandman, for example. Cardillac is a virtuous, industrious man by day but a violent criminal at night, while Nathaniel, obsessed by a childhood fantasy, is driven to madness and cruelty.
The tales can be read on several levels: as an expression of the concerns of the Romantic era, as impressive examples of German Romantic literature and as exciting works of fiction made all the more extraordinary by their concern with the supernatural and the bizarre. This volume contains Hoffman's best and most popular works, including Mademoiselle de Scudery, which is generally thought to be his masterpiece.
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (1776–1822), better known by his pen name E. T. A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann), was a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. He is the subject and hero of Jacques Offenbach's famous but fictional opera The Tales of Hoffmann. Hoffmann's stories were tremendously influential in the 19th century, and he is one of the key authors of the Romantic movement.
E. T. A. Hoffmann. Wikipedia.