The adventures of New Years Eve

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The New Year's Eve Adventures is a short story by ETA Hoffmann that was written in the first six days of 1815 and appeared in Callot's manner in Volume 4 of Fantasiestücke in the same year .


In the fall of 1814, Chamisso's Peter Schlemihl's wondrous story appeared. ETA Hoffmann has expanded this to include The Story of the Lost Mirror Image , on which the Giuletta act of Jacques Offenbach's opera Hoffmann's Tales is based. Hoffmann's text consists of four chapters. In the last chapter, the first-person narrator, that is the traveling enthusiast, tells the story of Erasmus Spikher. The first three chapters only serve as a puzzling introduction to the events, which in parts are reminiscent of the fist .

Actually the structure is a little more complicated. The editor - let's call him Theodor Amadäus Hoffmann - describes the traveling enthusiast in a foreword as a ghost seer based on Schiller . And the traveling enthusiast ends the fantasy with a moody address to the editor - wrapped up as a postscript.


I. The beloved

On New Year's Eve in 1815, the first-person narrator leaves the area with the snow-covered Berlin Christmas stalls and goes to a salon near the linden trees . There he tries again to get closer to Julie, his former lover. When he realizes that Julie is now married, he escapes from society without a coat and strolls aimlessly through downtown Berlin.

II. Society in the basement

In Jägerstrasse , close to the Thiermann shop, the first-person narrator enters a cellar. In the dining room he meets a very tall, slim man whom he identifies towards the end of the chapter as Peter Schlemihl , the man without a shadow. The two gentlemen are joined by a thin, short man whom Schlemihl calls General Suwarow . Immediately the “general”, who turns out to be the protagonist Erasmus Spikher in the fourth chapter, has the mirror hung in the dining room.

III. Apparitions

When the first-person narrator spent the night in the golden eagle, he was incorrectly instructed by the porter. The beautiful wide mirror is curtained in the room. The traveling enthusiast pulls down the cloth, does nothing to counter the mistake of the porter, and spends New Year's Eve in the kid's room, as he calls the general from chapter two. The newcomer is confronted with three apparitions. First, a dark figure emerges from the mirror. Unmistakable - the woman resembles Julie. On top of that. The second appearance: the little one has two faces - alternating that of a young man and that of an old man. And finally the third apparition, the ghostly little one has no reflection. He gave it to the woman in the mirror.

IV. The story of the lost reflection

In the morning the little one has disappeared, but has left a piece of paper that contains his life story: 27-year-old Erasmus Spikher leaves his wife and child behind in Germany. In Florence he enjoys the lush Italian life. The father of the family is the only German who doesn't bring a lovely Donna to a happy garden party. The graceful delicate Giuletta becomes Spikhers Donna in the garden. Spikher kills an Italian rival and is caught. The perpetrator evades prosecution with the help of the miracle doctor Signor Dapertutto (“everywhere and nowhere”). Giuletta had successfully asked Spikher for his reflection. The miracle doctor in the fiery red coat claims he had sympathetic means which, when applied to the mirror image, allowed Spikher to change faces. So he could escape his pursuers. In fact, Spikher manages to escape home. His wife chases him out of the house. She is uneasy about a man without a reflection. On the run through the city park, Giuletta's angelic figure rises in front of Spikher. Dapertutto is suddenly there and has a panacea for such an evil: hydrogen cyanide . But Spikher does not sign the devil Dapertutto's contract with his blood, nor does he poison his wife and child. Giuletta and the devil disappear in the thick, stinking steam. The wife at home gives in, but still insists on her husband's reflection in the mirror. The woman releases her Spikher out into the wide world with best wishes. In search of his reflection, the released man teamed up with Peter Schlemihl; but without success.


19th century

  • In the “Wiener Allgemeine Literaturzeitung”, the author is accused of volatile working methods. But the horror effects are admired. Brentano must also be counted among the admirers . However, he did not send the relevant letter to ETA Hoffmann. Julius Eduard Hitzig and Willibald Alexis call the text an imitation of " Schlemihl ".

Recent comments

  • Richard von Schaukal (Zurich 1923) considers the text to be “weak” and Walther Harich (Berlin 1929) thinks of bread work.
  • Details can be found at Steinecke. The "confused building" and the opacity are criticized. Steinecke also mentions works by Willy R. Berger (1978), Todd Kontje (1985), Margot Kuttner (Düsseldorf 1936), Claudio Magris (Königstein / Taunus 1980), Jean FA Ricci (Paris 1966) and Gero von Wilpert (Stuttgart 1978) .
  • Schäfer discusses the real and the apparent - such as the Julie-Giuletta relation - and points out a global textual characteristic. Narrated dream and narrated “reality” (according to Schäfer “fictional reality”) could not be separated. At Schäfer there are references to further work.
    • Giraud 1971
    • Konersmann 1991
    • Wolf 1993
    • May 2003
    • Neymeyr 2004
    • Neymeyr 2005.

With his text ETA Hoffmann could be seen as a pioneer of Dostoyevsky , Gogol , Bulgakow (“ The Master and Margarita ”) and Kafka . The German silent film “ The Student of Prague ” is based on the topic dealt with in the text.

  • Kaiser sees the social problem of suppressed sex as an issue.


First edition

  • The adventures of New Years Eve. In: ETA Hoffmann: Fantasy pieces in Callot's manner. Fourth and last volume. CF Kunz, Bamberg 1815, DNB 932322891 , pp. 1-104.

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The New Year's Eve Adventures. In: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: Fantasy pieces in Callot's manner. Works 1814. (Deutscher Klassiker Verlag in the paperback. Vol. 14). German Klassiker-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-618-68014-7 , pp. 325–359. (corresponds to: Vol. 2/1 in: Hartmut Steinecke (ed.): ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes. Frankfurt am Main 1993)

Further editions

Secondary literature

  • 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)
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. (Metzler Collection, 243). Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 .
  • Barbara Neymeyr: "The Adventures of New Year's Eve": Romantic ego dissociation and doppelganger problem. In: Günter Saße (Ed.): Interpretations. ETA Hoffmann: Novels and Stories. Reclam, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-15-017526-7 , pp. 60-74.
  • Bettina Schäfer: The adventures of New Year's Eve. In: Detlef Kremer (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann. Life - work - effect. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-018382-5 , pp. 131-136.

Individual evidence

  1. Safranski (p. 391, 17. Zvo) calls ETA Hoffmann's pace “breathtaking”.
  2. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 553.
  3. Steinecke, p. 797 above
  4. Edition used, p. 359, 10. Zvo
  5. Edition used, p. 325, 10. Zvo
  6. Edition used, p. 359.
  7. Steinecke, p. 805, footnote 325.3
  8. Delicatessen shop (see Steinecke, comment 331,10 on p. 807)
  9. Schäfer, p. 136, 4. Zvo
  10. Steinecke, p. 799, 6. Zvo
  11. Steinecke, p. 799, 12. Zvo
  12. Steinecke, p. 799 below
  13. Steinecke, p. 800, 5. Zvo
  14. Steinecke, pp. 796–812.
  15. Steinecke, p. 800, 4. Zvo
  16. Steinecke, p. 927.
  17. Schäfer, p. 135, 12. Zvu
  18. quoted in Schäfer p. 135, 23. Zvo and p. 631: Jean Giraud: ETA Hoffmann, “The adventures of the New Year's Eve”. Le double face . Recherches germaniques 1 (1971) p. 109.
  19. quoted in Schäfer p. 134, 3rd Zvu and p. 637: Ralf Konersmann: Lebendige Spiegel. The metaphor of the subject. P. 137. Frankfurt am Main
  20. quoted in Schäfer p. 134, 13. Zvo and p. 656: Werner Wolf: Aesthetic Illusion and Illusion Breaking in the Art of Narration. P. 249 Tübingen 1993.
  21. quoted in Schäfer p. 132, 6. Zvo and p. 641: Markus May: Im Spie (ge) l des Schreckens und Begehrens. Mirror phenomena in fantastic literature using the example of ETA Hoffmann's "The Adventures of New Year's Eve" p. 149 in Ivanovic, Lehmann, May: Fantasticism - Cult or Culture? Aspects of a Phenomenon in Art, Literature, and Film. Stuttgart 2003.
  22. quoted in Schäfer pp. 135, 23. Zvo and p. 644: Barbara Neymeyr: “The adventures of New Year's Eve”. Romantic ego dissociation and double problematics p. 60–74 in Günter Saße: ETA Hoffmann: Novels and Stories. Interpretations. Stuttgart 2004.
  23. quoted in Schäfer p. 135, 24. Zvo and p. 644: Barbara Neymeyr: Afterword in “The adventures of the New Year's Eve” , p. 63–92. Stuttgart 2005.
  24. Schäfer, p. 136, 14. Zvo
  25. Schäfer, p. 136, 18. Zvo
  26. ^ Kaiser, p. 39, 19. Zvu
  27. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 553.

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