The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr

by: E.T.A. Hoffmann

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The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr by E.T.A. Hoffmann, translated by Anthea Bell / ISBN 9780140446319 / 384-page paperback Penguin Classic

This book is truly a classic, and I haven't found another remotely like it.

***

Tomcat Murr is a loveable, self-taught animal who has written his own autobiography. But a printer's error causes his story to be accidentally mixed and spliced with a book about the composer Johannes Kreisler. As the two versions break off and alternate at dramatic moments, two wildly different characters emerge from the confusion - Murr, the confident scholar, lover, carouser and brawler, and the moody, hypochondriac genius Kreisler. In his exuberant and bizarre novel, Hoffmann brilliantly evokes the fantastic, the ridiculous and the sublime within the humdrum bustle of daily life, making The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr (1820-22) one of the funniest and strangest novels of the nineteenth century.

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.