Hoffman was a follower of Cervantes and Sterne, a pioneering "magic realist", fascinated by Gothic horror, extreme mental states and supernatural events occuring within sharply rendered social settings. A talented composer and painter, he portrayed himself in the guise of Johannes Kreisler - the 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, this is also shot through with the warmth, humanity, and almost uncanny ability to captivate his readers which make Hoffman the greatest of German story-tellers.
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.
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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.
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