The Stranger Child (ETA Hoffmann)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Stranger Child is a romantic art fairy tale by ETA Hoffmann , which appeared in the fourth section of the second volume of the collection “ The Serapion Brothers ” in 1819 by G. Reimer in Berlin. At the end of November 1817 it was already published in the last volume of the two-volume collection “Kinder-Mährchen” - also by Reimer.


The serapion brother Lothar (presumably Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué ) reads:

Castle is what the four farmers in the little village of Brakelheim call the low house of their gracious Mr. Thaddäus von Brakel. The nobleman, his wife and their children Christlieb and Felix are visited by Count Cyprianus von Brakel, a wealthy cousin of the landlord. With Cyprianus, his fat wife and the perfectly brought up children Adelgundchen and Herrmann get out of the carriage. The visit does not come out of town empty-handed. Christlieb and Felix are given complicated mechanical toys.

Cyprianus remarks that Christlieb and Felix absolutely must be brought up; for his own children are trained in the sciences. The gracious uncle will send a court master . Christlieb and Felix are relieved when the visitor drives away again in his carriage. The girl and the boy enjoy the new toys for a day; But then they take the presents - including a harp man, a hunter man and a “nicely cleaned” doll - into the nearby forest and throw the “useless stuff” into the pond. Then the siblings met a strange child in the forest with a lily-white face, rose-red cheeks, cherry-red lips, shiny blue eyes and curly gold hair. It plays wonderful games with Christlieb and Felix in the great outdoors. It conjures up the most beautiful dolls out of blades of grass and lovable hunters out of branches. Felix thinks the strange child is a boy and Christlieb thinks she has a girl in front of her. Before Christlieb and Felix find each other "suddenly" at home, they float together with the strange child a little towards inaccessible castles in the air. Parents stamp their children's report as a fairy tale. The next day they play again; then the strange child chats to the siblings in the forest about his mother and his royal origins. In that kingdom the great scholar Pepasilio had usurped control. His journeymen had covered the roses, lilies, precious stones and even the rainbow "with a disgusting black juice" (= ink: science). Behind the humming, roaring monster Pepasilio hid none other than the gnome king Pepser. Fortunately, the nasty Pepser was killed by a crowd of children with fly swatters. From then on flowers bloomed, precious stones shone and the rainbow shone again in its old splendor.

In the presence of his children Christlieb and Felix, Mr. Thaddäus von Brakel receives the court master promised by his cousin. The pitch black clad gentleman is called Magister Ink. During the greeting with a handshake, the master stabs the two new students in the hands with a hidden needle. After the first lessons in the house, the children insist on a walk in the forest. Magister Ink doesn't feel at home in the forest. He tears up lilies and kills a poor bird; he does not understand or love nature.

Thereupon the strange child says goodbye to the two students. It could no longer play with them because Pepser had taken possession of them. The teacher has turned into a big, hideous fly and wants to pursue the strange child with "hideous humming and humming". Back from the forest, the master throws himself into a bowl of milk and slurps the drink “with an unpleasant rush”. The parents agree that they don't like Magister Ink. Herr von Brakel drives the roaring, roaring court master into the forest with a fly swatter.

Christlieb and Felix hope in the forest for the return of the strange child, but are harassed at the pond by the discarded toys harp man, hunter man and doll, who profess to be pupils of the master’s ink. The strange child can no longer be seen; so the siblings soon avoid the forest. Herr von Brakel is no longer doing well since he hit Magister Ink with a fly swatter. Shortly before his death, the father confesses to his children that he also knew the strange child when he was a child. Herr von Brakel wishes that Christlieb and Felix should remain loyal to the strange child and dies. Count Cyprianus expropriates the widow. The three Brakels have to leave the village of Brakelheim homeless with a "small bundle" of laundry. On the way on the bridge over the Waldstrom, the widow wants to faint out of sheer grief. Then the three expellees met the strange child and encouraged the children; they tell the mother about this encounter. The mother said: “I don't know why I have to believe in your fairy tale today.” They find accommodation with relatives, and from then on everything will be fine.


Statements in the 19th century
  • When Lothar has finished reading the fairy tale, Ottmar (alias Hitzig ) says: "Your 'strange child' is a purer children's fairy tale than your 'nutcracker '", but warns "some damn frills, the deeper meaning of which the child cannot suspect able to ".
  • In 1819 Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel called “The Stranger Child” a fairy tale for adults.
  • In 1819 Voss praised the depiction of Magister's ink as a fly.
  • In 1823 Konrad Schwenck admired the poet's “comic fantasy games and ironic allegories ”.
  • In 1859, Wolfgang Menzel spoke of one of "the best, if not the best story by Hoffmann".
  • Georg Ellinger took a liking to the warm tone in 1894.
Recent comments
  • In 1908 Arthur Sakheim sees the text reaching a peak of romanticism.
  • In 1920, Walther Harich criticized the spasmodic aspect of allegorization.
  • In 1958, Planta found the depiction of the antinomies and the forest landscape almost kitsch .
  • In 1961, Marianne Thalmann complained about the “thickly applied innocence” in Felix and Christlieb's drawing.
  • In 1974 Hans von Müller heard a “pale undertone of resentment ”.
  • In 1983 Armand de Loecker missed the deeper psychological penetration of the characters.
  • Gisela Vitt-Maucher criticized black and white painting in 1989.
  • In 2001 Segebrecht sees Tieck'sElves ” as Hoffmann's model for the text. For the strange child himself, the boy was the godfather in the poem " Phantasus ". Lothar Pikulik accept this poem as Hoffmann's source. Although the strange child represents the imagination, Hoffmann does not leave it at that. In the fairy tale, the imagination fights against practical constraints (the stranger's child confronts Magister ink).
  • References to further work can be found in Segebrecht ( Dieter Richter , Frankfurt am Main 1987 and Christiane Schulz, Berlin 1996), Kaiser ( Hans-Heino Ewers , Stuttgart 1987) and Schäfer.
  • Feldges and Stadler make assumptions about the home of the strange child and structurally recognize a strict three-way division. As early as 1964, Marianne Thalmann spoke of an "artistically organized fairy tale apparatus" lit by daylight. Rousseau is there as a role model. Felix and Christlieb are children of nature. Feldges and Stadler also mention works by Christa Maria Beardsley (Bonn 1957), Horst Daemmrich (Detroit 1973), Harvey W. Hewett-Thayer (Princeton 1948), Ricarda Huch (Cologne, posthumously 1969), Walter Jost (Frankfurt am Main 1921) , Max Lüthi (Bern 1947), Walter Müller-Seidel, Kenneth Negus, Gerhard Pankalla, Hans Schumacher, Jens Tismar and Günter Wöllner.


The first edition in the Serapion Brothers

  • The strange child in: The Serapionsbrüder. Collected stories and fairy tales. Published by ETA Hoffmann. Second volume. Berlin 1819. With G. Reimer. 614 pp.

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The strange child p. 570–616 in: Wulf Segebrecht (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: The Serapions Brothers. German classic publisher in paperback. Vol. 28. Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-618-68028-4 (corresponds to: Vol. 4 in: Wulf Segebrecht (Ed.): "ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes", Frankfurt am Main 2001)

Foreign language editions

  • The child from far away . Addison-Wesley 1971
  • The strange child . Neugebauer Press, Boston 1984
  • Pikku muukalainen . Porvoo 1984
  • To xeno paidi . Synchronē Epochē, Athens 1990
  • The stranger barni . Amanda, Copenhagen 1990
  • L 'enfant étranger . Flammarion, Paris 1997
  • El niño extraño . de Olañeta, Palma 2005


Secondary literature

  • Brigitte Feldges, Ulrich Stadler: ETA Hoffmann. Epoch - work - effect . CH Beck, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-406-31241-1 , p. 85-98 .
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; realities on literature)
  • Gero von Wilpert : Lexicon of world literature. German authors A - Z. 4th completely revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-520-83704-8 , p. 284, 2nd column below
  • Bettina Schäfer: The strange child. P. 310-315 in: Detlef Kremer (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann. Life - work - effect. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-018382-5

Individual evidence

  1. Feldges and Stadler, p. 98, 14. Zvu
  2. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221, 4th Zvo
  3. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1448 below and p. 1451
  4. Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer: Hoffmann, ETA: Nußknacker und Mausekönig ,, accessed on July 11, 2019
  5. Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel in: Heidelberger Jahrbücher der Litteratur , No. 76, 1819 (quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1453 above)
  6. Feldges and Stadler, p. 86, 4. Zvo
  7. Konrad Schwenck in: Hermes or Kritisches Jahrbuch der Literatur 1823, 3rd piece, p. 121 (quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1453, 14th Zvo and p. 1658, entry “Schwenck”)
  8. Wolfgang Menzel: German poetry from the oldest to the most recent times . Vol. 3, p. 365, Krabbe, Stuttgart 1859 (quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1454, 6. Zvo)
  9. Feldges and Stadler, p. 86, middle and p. 303 below
  10. Feldges and Stadler, p. 86, 17. Zvu and p. 304 below
  11. Feldges and Stadler, p. 86, middle and p. 303 below
  12. Urs Orlando von Planta: ETA Hoffmann's fairy tale "The Stranger Child". Bern 1958 (quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1454, 14. Zvo and p. 1672, entry "Planta")
  13. Feldges and Stadler, p. 90, 14. Zvo and p. 88 middle, entry 1961
  14. Feldges and Stadler, p. 86, 10. Zvu and p. 304 middle
  15. Armand de Loecker: Between Atlantis and Frankfurt. Fairy tale poetry and the golden age at ETA Hoffmann . Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1983
  16. Gisela Vitt-Maucher: ETA Hoffmanns Märchenschaffen. Kaleidoscope of alienation in his seven fairy tales. Chapel Hill, London 1989 (quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1454, 18. Zvo and p. 1660, 3rd entry)
  17. Segebrecht in the edition used, pp. 1448–1458
  18. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1452, 3rd Zvo
  19. ^ Friedrich Schnapp : The home of the strange child in: Messages of the ETA Hoffmann Society. Issue 21, 1975, pp. 38–41 (quoted in Segebrecht pp. 1452, 17. Zvo and p. 1672, entry under “The foreign child”).
  20. Lothar Pikulik: Romanticism as inadequacies in normality: Using the example of Tiecks, Hoffmanns, Eichendorffs . P. 139, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / Main 1979 (quoted in Segebrecht p. 1452, 22. Zvo and p. 1659 middle, entry under Pikulik).
  21. Segebrecht, p. 1456
  22. Segebrecht, p. 1672, section "The Strange Child"
  23. Kaiser, p. 84, section "The strange child"
  24. Feldges and Stadler, p. 95 and p. 96 below
  25. Feldges and Stadler, p. 96 middle and p. 88 middle, entry Thalmann 1964
  26. Hans von Müller, quoted in Feldges and Stadler on p. 90, 12. Zvo
  27. Feldges and Stadler, pp. 87–88
  28. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221 above

Web links