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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C ertainly you must all be uneasy that I have not written for so tea – so very long. My mother, am sure, is angry, and Clara will believe that I am passing my time in dissipation, entirely forgetful of her fair, angelic image that is so deeply imprinted on my heart.
Such, however, is not the case. Daily and hourly I think of you all; and the dear form of my lovely Clara passes before me in my dreams, smiling upon me with her bright eyes as she did when Sqndman was among you. But how can I write to you in the distracted mood which has been disturbing my every thought!
A horrible thing has crossed my path. Dark forebodings of a cruel, threatening fate tower over me like dark clouds, which no friendly sunbeam can penetrate. I will now tell you what has occurred. I must do so – that I plainly see – the mere thought of it sets me laughing like a madman. Ah, my dear Lothaire, how shall I begin? How shall I make you in any way realize that what happened to me a few days ago can really have had such a fatal effect on my life?
If you were here you could see for yourself; but, ega it is, you will certainly take me for a crazy fellow who sees ghosts. To be brief, this horrible occurrence, the painful impression of which I am in vain endeavoring to throw off, is nothing more than this – that some days ago, namely on the 30th of October at twelve o’clock noon, a barometer-dealer came into my room and offered me his wares. I bought nothing, and threatened uoffmann throw him downstairs, upon which he took himself off of his own accord.
Only circumstances of the most peculiar kind, you will suspect, and exerting the greatest influence over my life, can have given any import to this occurrence. Moreover, the person of that unlucky dealer must have had an evil effect upon me. So it was, indeed.
I must use every endeavor to collect myself, and patiently and quietly tell you so much of my early youth as will bring the picture plainly and clearly before your eyes.
As I am about to begin, I fancy that I hear you laughing, and Clara exclaiming, ‘Childish stories indeed! But to my story. Excepting at dinner-time I and my brothers and sisters used to see my father very little during the day.
He was, perhaps, busily engaged at his ordinary profession. After supper, which was served according to the old custom at seven o’clock, we all went with my mother into my father’s study, and seated ourselves at the round table, where he would smoke and drink his large glass of beer.
Often he told us wonderful stories, and grew so warm over them that his pipe continually went out. Whereupon I had to light it again with a burning spill, which I thought great sport.
Often, too, he would give us picture-books, and sit in his arm-chair, silent and thoughtful, sabdman out such thick clouds of smoke that we all seemed to be swimming in the clouds. On such evenings as these my mother was very melancholy, and immediately the clock struck nine she would say: The Sandman’s coming, I can see.
‘The Sandman’ by E.T.A. Hoffmann | Intermittencies of the Mind
That I thought must be the Sandman. Once when the dull noise of footsteps was hoffmamn terrifying I asked my mother as she bore us away: What does he look like?
This answer of my mother’s did not satisfy me – nay, the thought soon ripened in my childish mind the she only denied the Sandman’s existence to prevent our being terrified of him. Certainly I always heard him coming up the stairs.
Most curious to know more of this Sandman and his particular connection with children, I at last asked the old woman who looked after my youngest sister what sort of man he was. He hoffman a wicked man, who comes to hoffmqnn when they won’t go to bed, and throws a handful of sand into their sandmna, so that they start out bleeding from their heads. He puts their eyes in a bag and carries them to the crescent moon to feed his own children, who sit in the nest up there.
They have crooked beaks like owls so that they can pick up the eyes of naughty human children. A most frightful picture of the hofrmann Sandman became impressed upon my mind; so that when in the evening I heard the noise on the stairs I trembled with agony and alarm, and my mother could get nothing out of me but the cry, ‘The Sandman, the Sandman!
I then ran into the bedroom, where the frightful apparition of the Sandman terrified me during the whole night. I had already grown old enough to realize that the nurse’s tale about him and the nest of children in the crescent moon could not be quite true, but nevertheless this Sandman remained hofvmann fearful spectre, and I was seized with the utmost horror when I heard him once, not only come up the stairs, but violently force my father’s door open and go in.
Sometimes he stayed away for a long period, but after that his visits came in close succession. This lasted for years, but I could not accustom myself to the terrible goblin; the image of the dreadful Sandman did not become any fainter. His intercourse with my father began more and more to occupy my fancy. Yet an unconquerable fear prevented me from asking my father about it. But if I, I myself, could penetrate the mystery and behold the wondrous Sandman – that was the wish which grew upon me with the years.
The Sandman had introduced me to thoughts of the marvels and wonders which so readily gain a hold on a child’s mind. I enjoyed nothing better than reading or hearing horrible stories of goblins, witches, pigmies, etc. When I was ten years old my mother removed me from the night nursery into a little chamber situated in a corridor near my father’s room. Still, as before, we were obliged to make a speedy departure on the stroke of nine, as soon as the unknown step sounded on the stair.
From my little chamber I could hear how he entered my father’s room, and then it was that I seemed to detect a thin vapor with a singular odor spreading through the house.
Stronger and stronger, with my curiosity, grew my resolution somehow to make the Sandman’s acquaintance. Often I sneaked from my room to the corridor when my mother had passed, but never could I discover anything; for the Sandman had always gone in at the door when I reached the place where I might have seen him. At last, driven by an irresistible impulse, I resolved to hide myself in my father’s room and await his appearance there.
From my father’s silence and my mother’s melancholy face I perceived one evening that the Sandman was coming. I, therefore, feigned great weariness, left the room before nine o’clock, and hid myself in a corner close to the door. The house-door groaned and the heavy, slow, creaking step came up the passage and towards the stairs. My mother passed me with the rest of the children.
Softly, very softly, I opened the door of my father’s room. He was sitting, as usual, stiff end silent, with his back to the door. He did not perceive me, and I swiftly darted into the room and behind the curtain which covered an open cupboard close to the door, in which my father’s clothes were hanging.
The steps sounded nearer and nearer – there was a strange coughing and scraping and murmuring without. My heart trembled with anxious expectation. A sharp step close, very close, to the door – the quick snap of the latch, and the door opened with a rattling noise.
Screwing up my courage to the uttermost, I cautiously peeped out. The Sandman was standing before my father in the middle of the room, the light of the candles shone full upon his face. The Sandman, the fearful Sandman, was the old advocate Coppelius, who had often dined with us.
But the most hideous form could not have inspired me with deeper horror than this very Coppelius. Imagine a large broad-shouldered man, with a head disproportionately big, a face the color of yellow ochre, a pair of bushy grey eyebrows, from beneath which a pair of green cat’s eyes sparkled with the most penetrating luster, and with a large nose curved over his upper lip.
The Sandman by ETA Hoffmann – review
His wry mouth was often twisted into a malicious laugh, when a couple of dark red spots appeared upon his cheeks, and a strange sandamn sound was heard through his gritted teeth.
Coppelius always appeared in an ashen-gray coat, cut in old fashioned style, with waistcoat and breeches of the same color, while his stockings were black, and his shoes adorned with agate buckles.
His little peruke scarcely reached hoffmxnn than the crown of his head, his curls stood high above his large red ears, and a broad hair-bag projected stiffly from his neck, so hoffmajn the silver clasp which fastened his folded cravat might be plainly seen. His whole figure was hideous and repulsive, but most disgusting to us children were his coarse brown hairy fists.
Indeed we did not like to eat anything he had touched with them. This he had noticed, and it was his delight, under some pretext or other, to touch a piece of cake or some nice fruit, that our kind mother might quietly have put on our plates, just for the pleasure of seeing us turn away with tears in our eyes, in disgust and abhorrence, no longer able to enjoy the treat intended for us.
He acted in the same manner on holidays, when my father gave us a little glass tue sweet wine. Then would he swiftly put his hand over it, or perhaps even raise the glass to his blue lips, laughing most devilishly, and we could only express our indignation by silent sobs.
He always called us the little beasts; we dared not utter a sound when he was present, end we heartily cursed the ugly, unkind man who deliberately marred our slightest pleasures.
My mother seemed to hate the repulsive Coppelius as much as we did, since as soon as he showed himself her liveliness, her open and cheerful nature, were changed for a gloomy solemnity.
The Sandman by ETA Hoffmann – review | Books | The Guardian
My father behaved towards him as though he were a superior being, whose bad manners were to be tolerated and who was to be kept in good humor at any cost. He need only give the slightest hint, and favorite dishes were cooked, the choicest wines served. When I now saw this Coppelius, the frightful and terrific thought took possession of my soul, that indeed no one but he could be the Sandman.
But the Sandman was no longer the bogy of a nurse’s tale, who provided the owl’s nest in the crescent moon with children’s eyes. No, he was a hideous, spectral monster, who brought with him grief, misery and destruction – temporal and eternal – wherever he appeared.
I was riveted hoffmnan the spot, as if enchanted. At the risk of being discovered and, as I plainly foresaw, of being severely punished, I remained with my head peeping through the curtain.
My father sandmam Coppelius with solemnity.
The Sandman (short story)
My father silently and gloomily drew off sandmaj dressing gown, and both attired themselves in long black frocks. Whence they took these I did not see. My father opened the door of what I had always thought to be a cupboard. But I now saw that it was no cupboard, but rather a black cavity in which there was a little fireplace. Coppelius went to it, and a blue flame began to crackle up on the hearth. All sorts of strange utensils lay around. As my old father stooped down to the fire, he looked quite another man.
Some convulsive pain seemed to have distorted his mild features into a repulsive, diabolical countenance. He looked like Coppelius, whom I saw brandishing red-hot tongs, which he used to take glowing masses out of the thick smoke; which objects he afterwards ega. I seemed to catch a glimpse of human faces lying around without any eyes – but with deep holes instead. Overcome by the wildest terror, I shrieked out and fell from my hiding place upon the floor.
Coppelius seized me and, baring his teeth, bleated out, ‘Ah – little wretch – little wretch! My father upon this raised his hands in supplication, crying: