Those of you who know your Freud should recognise that passage: he quotes it in full in his essay "The Uncanny", in which a meditation on Hoffmann's story forms part of his explanation for the importance of men's fear of castration, and the lengths they go to in order to displace it. You may beg to differ: many do these days when it comes to Freud. This still only bulks it up to 98 pages, and you might think the price a bit steep for that, but once you have read both the story and the essay, you will find yourself with plenty of food for thought. Even without the addition of the Freud, you will have noticed something going on that is related to the workings of our subconscious minds. He escapes but, subsequently, his father is found dead. You may not buy into Freud's analysis, but Hoffmann's ability to exploit our inability, in dreams or madness, to distinguish our true state, has never been put to more usefully chilling effect.
|Published (Last):||11 April 2007|
|PDF File Size:||19.11 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||14.48 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Plain text E. Hoffmann Self-portrait, public domain on Wikimedia Commons. Stanley Appelbaum. Dover, This post will be less a worked-out interpretation of the story than a series of observations that might be useful for others working out an interpretation or me doing so later.
Her name suggests clarity as well. But to Clara his works have become prosaic themselves. It becomes clear pretty early on that Olimpia is an automaton.
Where Nathanael thinks Clara is cold and unfeeling, he sees Olimpia as expressing deep and powerful feelings of love and longing. Of course, Olimpia is not really feeling anything; these feelings are being projected onto her by Nathanael. Finally, I find it interesting that when Nathanael touches Olimpia, she is at first ice cold, but then as he looks into her eyes she seems to warm up There may be something here about Nathanael looking into her eyes, seeing himself, and then her skin seeming to pulse with life.
He is bringing her to life with his looks and with his touches. Nathanael struggles to express what he wants to express to Clara, and finally hits on the poem about he and Clara and Coppelius, which she eventually tells him to throw into the fire. This is similar to how the narrator describes trying to tell others of a profound experience by first providing an outline and then later shading it in with colour. Really, this whole story centres around eyes. And we have an essay topic students could write about, asking them to discuss the significance of eyes and vision in the story.
Here are some random thoughts. But perhaps these thoughts might be helpful for others in their own interpretations. Whoa, what an awesome post! My favourite point that you made was how Nathanael and Olimpia are paralleled, because it made a lot of sense and it made me think about Nathanael and his psychological state.
In fact, this whole bit seems to be a projection of what Nathanael WANTS to see in Olimpia which is consistent with the idea of infatuation and people seeing what they want to see in their lovers.
There are lots of people out there who fall in love with inanimate characters and objects, and find comfort in them. Take Pinocchio, for example. The puppetmaker carves a boy out of wood, makes a wish that he would be a real boy and is overjoyed when he wakes up and the puppet is brought to life, immediately dubbing himself the father. Also your last points about Olimpia and Nathanael really tickle my feminist interpretation tendencies…!
The Sandman has just been a really strange yet fun story to read. So many things to think about and look at from different angles! Thanks, Helen! I completely agree with the point here at the end that there is so much here to think about. And yeah, there is much here that is ripe for a feminist interpretation, I think. Good point about Nathanael projecting love and longing onto Olimpia, but if she is a reflection of himself then he is projecting himself as loving himself I think?
Or perhaps we could think of it as him projecting what he would like someone else to think about him. Spam prevention powered by Akismet.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.
The Sandman Summary
The story is told by a narrator who claims to have known Lothar. It begins by quoting three letters:. Nathanael recalls his childhood terror of the legendary Sandman, who was said to steal the eyes of children who would not go to bed and feed them to his own children who lived in the moon. Nathanael came to associate the Sandman with a mysterious nightly visitor to his father. He recounts that one night, he hid in his father's room to see the Sandman. It is Coppelius, an obnoxious lawyer come to carry out alchemical experiments. Coppelius begins taking "shining masses" out of the fire and hammering them into face-like shapes without eyes.
The Sandman (short story)
Nathanael describes a childhood fear of a creature called The Sandman who was said to come at night and steal the eyes of children, which intermingled with a the appearance of a man named Coppelius in his father's room some nights to work on what appears to have been alchemy. This man once attacked Nathanael, threatening to take his eyes, and later killed his father before disappearing. Nathanael has come upon a man, Coppola, at university, whom he believes to actually be that same evil man from his childhood. Upon telling Clara and Lothar of this, they attempt to convince him that it is a childish delusion, and continue to hope he will come to his senses while at home. While he sometimes appears to have forgotten about Coppelius and Coppola, he has periods where it is all he will think or talk about, even coming close to a duel with Lothar after he attacks Clara for calling his story insane.