A story writer with dazzling gifts of innovation and imagination, Hoffmann's influence spread to such famous literary successors as Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Poe, Kafka, Baudelaire, and Garcia Marquez. Hoffmann was a follower of Cervantes and Sterne, a pioneering "magic realist, " fascinated by Gothic horror, extreme mental states, and supernatural events occurring within sharply (and sometimes satirically) rendered social settings. A talented composer and painter, he portrayed himself in the guise of Johannes Kreisler — a hypochondriac, antisocial, and moody but brilliant musician. In this astonishing book a vain and very bourgeois tomcat sets out to write his memoirs, using a biography of Kreisler as a blotting pad. By a printer's error, the two lives get spliced together into a bizarre double narrative. A supreme example of literary bravado, Tomcat Murr is also shot through with the warmth, humanity, and almost uncanny ability to captivate his readers that make Hoffmann the greatest of German storytellers.
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. Jeremy Adler is Professor of German at King's College London. Anthea Bell has received many awards for her translations including the Mildred L. Batchelder Award in 1979, 1990 and 1995.
Hoffman is a supreme storyteller, and this is his funniest and most readable novel. First published in 1820, it is a light-hearted exploration of the romantic fascination with the individual and the imagination, with nature and the supernatural, and with art itself. Murr, a vain and bourgeois tomcat, is writing his memoirs, using as a blotting pad a biography of Kreisler, a moody but brilliant musician. By a printer's error the two lives are spliced together, commenting implicitly on each other. Hoffman's playfulness and experimentation introduced techniques that were later used by writers as various as Dickens, Kafka, Poe and Garcia Marquez. (Kirkus UK)
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