The Golden Pot and other tales of the uncanny by E.T.A. Hoffmann

Archipelago Books

$24.00

The Golden Pot and other tales of the uncanny by E.T.A. Hoffmann, translated by Peter Wortsman / ISBN 9781953861702 / 425-page paperback with flaps published in 2023 by Archipelago

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Macabre and fantastical, Hoffmann’s wildly imaginative tales offer an unflinching view of human nature and sing clearer than ever in a masterful new translation

Whether a surrealist exploration of the anxieties surrounding automation, or a mystery concerning a goldsmith, missing jewels, and a spate of murders, each tale in this collection reveals the complexities of human desire and fear.

Hoffman, whose most famous work is “The Nutcracker,” is often compared to Edgar Allan Poe. Hoffman’s massive influence qualifies him as the godfather of the German Romantic Movement which led to the horror genre.

The macabre, fantastical nature of his subject matter inspired a broad swath of culture, with two of the longer stories in this collection “The Sandman” and “The Automaton” influencing Philip K. Dick’s original inspiration for Blade Runner. The murder mystery “Mademoiselle de Scudéry” is perhaps one of the earliest prototypes of the detective genre story.

Music and madness flow through E.T.A. Hoffmann’s phantasmagoric stories. The ringing of crystal bells heralds the arrival of a beguiling snake, and a student’s descent into lunacy; a young man abandons his betrothed for a woman who plays the piano skillfully but seems worryingly wooden; a counselor’s daughter must choose between singing and her life.

Peter Wortsman’s masterful new translation allows Hoffmann’s distinct and influential style to shine, while breathing new life into stories that seem both familiar and uncanny.

E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776 - 1822) was born in Konigsberg and became one of the best known and influential authors of his time. He exploited the grotesque and the bizarre in a manner unmatched by any other Romantic writer. Anthea Bell has received many awards for her translations including the Mildred L. Batchelder Award in 1979, 1990 and 1995.

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