The only text of his that is still widely read and that is not a horror story is this one, the Lebensansichten des Katers Murr nebst fragmentarischer. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Hoffmann wurde am in Königsberg geboren. Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr nebst fragmentarischer Biografie des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler in zufälligen Makulaturblättern ist ein satirischer.

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Now, how do I start this? This is a fragment containing a continuous story and another fragment. This is a book that is a humorous send-off of the Bildungsroman and a serious critique of the society of its time. This is a postmodern masterpiece, that stops at all the right bases: This book is strange, it contains so much, and is, on the other hand, very light and entertaining reading.

The author is one of those chaps who wastes nothing, every image serves multiple purposes, every plot strand has significance in several ways; the downside to this is that, for a story about a cat, this book is strangely cold and aloof, much like the cat that narrates a good deal of it.

Hoffmann, despite being one of the titans of German literature, is still in need of being discovered.

Hoffmann, also, was unafraid of angering powerful people with his satire. In a climate of repression, with the Prussian state cracking down on rebellious students, he wrote and published a satire on a particularly angered and powerful official.

Lebens-Ansichten Des Katers Murr

Dead at 48, he has produced an outstanding body of work, most of it short stories and novellas, with Lebensansichten des Katers Murr as the only longer exception. Or Tchaikovsky, whose Nutcracker is similarly based on a story by Hoffmann. Satire without heart can be hollow and poor, weak, and, at worst, mean-spirited and dull. At the heart of a work of satire there needs to be a kernel of commitment, a core belief in something, in order for it to work, to be convincing as criticism and a work of art.

In this, too, the novel fragment about Murr the tomcat, is different. Lebensansichten des Katers Murr is completely reduced to satire, without the balm of generous fantasy. Instead, he opts for pastiche and parody, each of which words well describes one of its two parts. No, Murr just lebensansiichten to act and speak like a human being, at least kzters far as books and knowledge are concerned.

In his asides, he says cutesie things dds threatening to scratch a wayward listener but these are minor points. Murr, as a young cat, discovers his interest in books, reading, writing, and his lack of bookworms of his own age creates an enormous sense of intellectual righteousness in him. On the internet I have encountered people who have certainly read multiple books of history but have clearly not understood anything beyond that which fosters their own preconceptions.


Lebens-Ansichten Des Katers Murr : E T A Hoffmann :

They will not learn, they will just acquire more books, and remember little except the bare bones facts. And here is a second thing. Murr will always remain a cat, of course. Murr is quite often thrown back upon his felinity, he is, although, mark me, this is a stretch, a perennial subaltern, who does not use his own voice to jurr, but borrows his voice from the human culture around him.

His autobiography, as we learn in the introduction, is written upon pieces of paper that he found. More to the point: So, without appropriating the voice and the language for his purposes, he does, after all, do something somewhat similar. The manuscript he rips apart, is the biography dws Bandmaster Kreisler, of which we only have fragments. Parody usually implies criticism and indeed, in addition to the satiric criticism I outlined above, the Bildungsroman parody has an additional, specific target.

Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre was largely adulated when it came out but it had also a couple of rather vehement enemies, among them Friedrich von Hardenberg, better known as Novalis, who wrote his only novel, Heinrich von Ofterdingenas a response to Wilhelm Meister. Such a moral Novalis found unacceptable.

AnnSo (Switzerland)’s review of Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr

Hoffmann must have had similar objections to the book and others that followed in its wake. So, his ridicule of the philistine is also a ridicule of the goals of the Bildungsroman, and of the goals and ideas of Prussian society around him.

Hoffmann worked for the Prussian state, in a commision during the crackdowns, evaluating the rebellious students. German politics are always more complex than some would have it. This was not a conflict between smart, emancipatory and well-meaning students and a repressive state denying its citizens basic rights. Among these students were many rabid anti-Semites most famously, Turnvater Jahnand the Romantic student movements were to turn into German nationalism that shaped a German people that, at the end of its development, committed the Shoah.

At the turn of the century and again in the Weimar republic, it was young ardent students who were most heavily involved in this kind of thinking, not old crusty umrr. It did, and many high ranking officials called for severe punishment for jaters wayward students.

Hoffmann appears to be marvelously aware of the complicated situation, and its demands for criticism that is not lebensansicjten.


So instead of juxtaposing two characters on the katerz level, Hoffmann expresses his Novalis-like criticism by including the biography of Kreisler. Do take note of the ingeniousness lebsnsansichten this. Kreisler and Murr live in the same world, they even meet at one point in the story, so they could be part of one longer narrative.

Instead, Hoffmann has separated them by more than just space. He separated them by genre as well. Kreisler is a young, passionate artist. The story is the weakest point of the book, not even Hoffmann appears to show much interest in it, letting it plod along dully; even murders and revelation will not rivet the reader although they did entertain me passably the first time I read it. The major function of these sections, however, is the portrayal of Kreisler the artist, who is unsuccessful at pursuing his artistic vision in the philistine society around him.

Instead, the text shows the artist struggling to maintain his personal vision and integrity, instead of caving to the pressure like Meister did. The fact that Hoffmann was not able to finish the novel deprives us of a synthesis. As a whole, this book is fueled by an admirable energy.

This is a book like no other one and since it has been translated both into English and French, I recommend you read it. If you hated it, even better.

File:ETA Hoffmann, Lebensansichten des Katers Murr 1920.jpg

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