The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hoffmann, Ernst Theodor Wilhelm

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HOFFMANN, Ernst Theodor Wilhelm, German novelist: b. Königsberg, 24 Jan. 1776; d. 24 July 1822. In admiration of Mozart be dropped the name Wilhelm and substituted Amadeus. His childhood and youth were joyless and in 1792 he entered the University of Königsberg to prepare for a legal career. He practised for a short time at Königsberg, removing subsequently to Glogau and in 1798 to Berlin. In 1800 he went to Posen but his powers of caricature cost him his place and caused his virtual banishment to Plozk. His leisure moments were spent in musical composition. In 1804 he removed to Warsaw, where he was influenced by the Romantic writers such as Novalis, Tieck and Wackenroder. During his sojourn in Warsaw he composed the music to Brentano's ‘Lustige Musikanten’ and to Werner's ‘Kreuz an der Ostzee’ and the opera ‘Liebe und Eifersucht.’ Hoffmann's fortunes were impaired when the French invaded Warsaw, and in 1808 he moved to Bamberg as musical director of a theatre there. This institution became bankrupt and Hoffmann turned to literature in order to enhance his scanty earnings as composer and teacher of music. His earliest work was a series of musical sketches, ‘Phantasiestücke in Callots Manier’ (4 vols., 1814). In 1814 he was recalled to Berlin and in 1816 was made councillor of the Court of Appeal. In the latter year appeared his great novel, ‘Die Elixiere der Teufels’ (q.v.), which laid the foundation of his 1iterary fame. Hoffman's habits of dissipation impaired his health and he died of locomotor ataxia at the age of 46. Other works by him are ‘Lebensansichten des Katers Murr’ (1820-22), ‘Die Serapionsbrüder’ (1819) and ‘Nachtstücke’ (1817). His works were recently published (15 vols., 1905). His musical compositions were edited by E. Istel (1906). Translations of all of his important works have appeared in English. Consult Ellinger, G., ‘E. T. A. Hoffmann’ (1894); Hitzig, ‘Hoffmann's Leben und Nachlass’ (Stuttgart 1839); Klinke, O., ‘Hoffmann's Leben und Werke vom Standpunkte eines Irrenarztes’ (1903); Sakheim, Arthur, ‘E. T. A. Hoffmann: Studien zu seiner Personlichkeit und seinen Werken’ (Leipzig 1908); Wolzogen, Hans, ‘E. T. A. Hoffmann und R. Wagner’ (Berlin 1906).