The Eerie Guest (narration)

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The uncanny guest is a story by ETA Hoffmann that appeared in the fifth section of the third volume of the collection “ Die Serapionsbrüder ” in 1820 by G. Reimer in Berlin. In 1819 Hartwig Hundt's text was in “The narrator. An entertainment publication for the educated ”was preprinted by Gottfried Hayn in Berlin.


The Serapion brother Ottmar (alias Julius Eduard Hitzig ) reads:

Colonel von G., her daughter Angelika and Angelika's French companion Mademoiselle Marguerite have two young gentlemen as guests by the fireplace on a stormy evening in late autumn. These are Rittmeister Moritz von R. and the lawyer Dagobert. Moritz in June 1813 in the Battle of Victoria against Napoleon fought. It looks like Angelika and Moritz will become a couple. The gentlemen tell all kinds of haunted stories. When Moritz told ghostly things that happened to his good friend and comrade in arms, the Livonian Lieutenant Colonel Bogislav von S-en years ago in Naples, the door of the hall jumps open “with a roaring rattle” and enters “a man, black from head to toe dressed, pale face, serious, steadfast look ”. The eerie guest turns out to be a “well-versed, educated man of the world”.

When Colonel von G. rode up soon afterwards , enters and finally warms himself up by the fireplace in the hall of his property, he introduces the guest to his wife as his dear, loyal friend Count Si and laughs heartily. The very rich Italian friend, to whom the colonel owes so much, has been taken for a ghost.

Dagobert puts his friend Moritz in the picture in private. Mademoiselle Marguerite is jealous of Angelika because Angelica is loved by Moritz. In addition, the very young Angelika is coveted by the aged monster Count Si.

In a conversation with his daughter, the colonel wishes her connection with the rich Italian. Angelika confesses her love for Moritz to her father. Everything is going to be fine, it seems. Because the magnanimous count renounces - just like that - Angelika. Marguerite has thus lost Moritz, takes poison and is treated by the Count for medical treatment. The colonel and Moritz again go to war against Napoleon. The mademoiselle recuperates and travels with the colonel and Angelica to one of the colonel's estates. Accompanied by the three traveling ladies is - at the request of the colonel - the count, this “spurned bridegroom” and “vicious Italians”.

While the colonel happily survived the battles and returned home, Moritz was believed dead. The colonel does not understand why the daughter, after receiving the bad news of the death of her lover, elected the count so quickly as her husband. Angelika can explain this: "A ghost voice keeps telling me that I have to join him as his wife."

Marguerite is leaving. The count is finally dying. It seems as if Angelika was "permeated by the highest bliss". The young girl - according to her attending physician - is magnetized. When Moritz - the happy end is approaching - still returns home with Bogislav (Moritz was looked for and found by Dagobert), admittedly with a “significant head wound”, he says to the awakened Angelika: “He [the count] enticed you through satanic arts. "

Bogislav, meanwhile promoted to general, means to the astonished colonel that years ago the count had stolen his dear lover through satanic arts in Naples too.

While searching for his wounded friend, Dagobert came across Marguerite by chance. The mademoiselle, it turned out, had been in league with the count. Together they had hypnotized the sleeping Angelica .

Angelika marries Moritz. She is probably expecting a child from him.


  • ETA Hoffmann took care of the tearing of its own text itself. As is well known, the stories in this collection are framed by brief conversations between the Serapion brothers. Theodor - that's ETA Hoffmann - rebukes the author Ottmar immediately after his lecture: “With such ghostly, eerie figures as the strange count, we have already been sheared a little bit, and it would be difficult for them to be new and To give originality. The strange count is like the Alban in the magnetizer . "
  • A number of details can be found in Segebrecht. For example, two reviewers are quoted in greater detail who reject the text after it has appeared. In the “Heidelberg Yearbooks of Literature” in 1821, on the one hand, the moral of history is criticized: “We actually feel really wounded when we see the free willpower, the foundation on which all moral world is based, touched.” On the other hand, Konrad defends himself Schwenck against the appropriation of difficult-to-explain natural phenomena in humans through poetry. Segebrecht's comments indicate that ETA Hoffmann used some of Schubert's works - for example “Views from the Night Side of Natural Science” (Dresden 1808) and “The Symbolism of Dreams” (Bamberg 1814).
  • “Gespenster-Hoffmann”: Werner said in 1962: “The story of the uncanny guest failed artistically” and refers to Hegel's romantic scolding against unearthly forces and powers. Werner continues: "In the horror of the supernatural, Hoffmann believed to have found the proof of the existence of a higher reality superior to this world." Moreover, the author only used the magnetic phenomena to generate "glaring effects", as Werner did with the careless one I would like to show the reader the difficult to understand interweaving of all four levels of action in the narrative. Segebrecht also comments on this nontrivial text structure.
  • According to ETA Hoffmann, humans have moved away from nature. Consequently, natural phenomena - such as magnetism - would seem abysmal to him.
  • Feldges and Stadler discuss mesmerism in ETA Hoffmann's work.
  • Kaiser names works by Köhler (1972) and Wolfgang Trautwein (Vienna 1980).


First edition

  • The eerie guest in: The Serapion Brothers. Collected stories and fairy tales. Published by ETA Hoffmann. Third volume. Berlin 1820. Printed and published by G. Reimer. 590 pages

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The eerie guest. P. 722–772 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)

Secondary literature

  • Hans-Georg Werner: ETA Hoffmann. Representation and interpretation of reality in poetic work . Arion Verlag, Weimar 1962.
  • Rüdiger Safranski : ETA Hoffmann. The life of a skeptical fantasist. 2nd Edition. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-596-14301-2 (Licensor: Hanser 1984).
  • Brigitte Feldges, Ulrich Stadler: ETA Hoffmann. Epoch - work - effect . CH Beck, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-406-31241-1 .
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; Realien zur Literatur).

Individual evidence

  1. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221, 7. Zvo
  2. Segebrecht, p. 1496, section "Origin and text transmission"
  3. ^ Kaiser, p. 75, 8. Zvo
  4. Safranski, p. 404, 8th Zvu
  5. Edition used, p. 769, 1. Zvu
  6. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1496 middle to p. 1507
  7. From the “Heidelberger Jahrbücher der Literatur”, year 1821, quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1498, 5th Zvu
  8. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1496 above
  9. Segebrecht, p. 1501, 4th Zvu and p. 1502, 6th Zvo
  10. Werner, p. 109, 18. Zvu
  11. Werner, p. 101, 6. Zvo
  12. Werner, p. 101, 7th Zvu
  13. Werner, p. 108, 16. Zvo
  14. Segebrecht, p. 1499, subsection "Aspects of Interpretation"
  15. Safranski, p. 304 above
  16. Feldges and Stadler; Pp. 27-30
  17. ^ Kaiser, p. 85
  18. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221 above

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