The Jesuit Church in G.

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The Jesuit Church in G. is a story by ETA Hoffmann that appeared at the end of 1816 in the first part of the “Night Pieces” collection by Reimer in Berlin . The author had finished writing in August of that year.

This night piece “from the papers of a traveling enthusiast” is about a precious, oh so fleeting gift: the creative power of the visual artist Berthold.

Jesuit Church in Glogau


It happens close to G. The stagecoach of the traveling enthusiast - the first-person narrator ETA Hoffmann - breaks in two. During the three-day compulsory break that follows, the traveler is never bored. He ponders and digs an address from memory that he once heard talked about. The path leads to Aloysius Walther. In G. this is a professor in the Jesuit college. The professor speaks about the structural condition of the church. Their inner walls are being repainted. Great masters of the art of painting - according to Aloysius Walther - avoided G. It was only enough for a “poor wall brush”. The traveling enthusiast, curious, visits the painting work with the professor. The artist is called Berthold. Aloysius Walther responds reservedly to the enthusiast's insistent questions about Berthold.

The traveling enthusiast is a restless spirit. At midnight he walks to the church again - this time alone - and surprises Berthold at work. The artist celebrates strange shadow plays by torchlight. There is pressing. The enthusiast helps Berthold to set up scaffolding. The night is slipping away. The morning is dawning. Sunbeams break in. The enthusiast admires Berthold's work last night. An altarpiece will be created.

The enthusiast would like to know more about the nocturnal painter from the professor. This young man would be gentle, good-natured, hard-working and sober, the enthusiast receives the succinct answer. When he does not give up, the professor gives him Berthold's vita, recorded by another enthusiast. The author is a young man who studied at the college and who occasionally helped Berthold.

According to the paper, the old painter Stephan Birkner had recommended Berthold's parents, who lived in poor conditions, to send the boy to Italy for training. Berthold Hackert becomes a student in Rome . The old Maltese , a whimsical painter, considers Berthold to be talented and shows him a stony path to becoming an artist: Anyone who has penetrated “into the deeper meaning of nature” will “ see their pictures appear in high glory”. On the Gulf of Naples , one of these longed-for pictures appears to the young painter in person around 1798 in the form of Princess Angiola T. Berthold falls in love with the noblewoman, leads her as his wife to the southern German town of M. and wants to support the small family there with his art. The portrayal of the beloved fails. Married life broke the artist's strength. The princess gives birth to a son. Berthold wants his wife and child to die - allegedly because Angiola cheated on him for his life. Neighbors report the madman. When the police try to arrest him, the family of three cannot be found. A Berthold “full of cheer” is seen in N. in Upper Silesia . ETA Hoffmann - more precisely, the writing student - writes that the painter "got rid of his wife and child".

After reading it, the traveling enthusiast chats with Professor Aloysius Walther about the enthusiastic student's paper. While the traveling enthusiast calls the painter Berthold a “nefarious murderer”, the professor does not trust the painter to do the deed. The traveling enthusiast wants certainty. So he goes back to the Jesuit Church, climbs up to the painting Berthold on the scaffolding and asks the artist “suddenly: So in utter madness you murdered woman and child?” Berthold washes his hands in innocence. The terrified man wants to throw himself off the scaffolding with the traveling enthusiast. The unwelcome visitor gets away with life by distracting the artist with a small critical comment on his current color scheme - the "ugly dark yellow".

The traveling enthusiast is then laughed at by the professor for his last appearance in the church and travels on in the repaired carriage.

Six months later, the professor informed the enthusiast that Berthold had left a large, splendid altarpiece in G.'s Jesuit Church and that he was probably drowning himself in the O - Strom (in the Oder).


ETA Hoffmann likes to quote itself. When the professor hands the enthusiast the “student work”, he fails to recognize him: “... I know that you are not a writer. The author of the Fantasy Pieces in Callot's manner would have cut it badly in his great manner and had it printed right away, which I cannot expect from you. "

That writing student also tells - just like ETA Hoffmann - straight away: "One ..., we want to call him Florentin ..."

Artists are not normal. This sentence is not to be found in ETA Hoffmann's text, but it is the concise sense of some quirky and humorous scenes - see above; for example the final argument between the traveling enthusiast and Berthold on the painter's scaffolding in the Jesuit church.


Statement after publication
Recent comments
  • The word "Nachtstück" appeared in German in the 17th century in translations from Italian. Originally it stood for “pittura di notte” in painting.
  • In his comment, Steinecke points out the background. In July 1796, ETA Hoffmann in Glogau helped the painter Aloys Molinary to paint the church. Berthold wore features of both Molinary and ETA Hoffmann. For example, the author processed his inclination to Dora Hatt . ETA Hoffmann used Goethe's biographical sketch about Hackert (Tübingen 1811).
  • According to Heimes, the left altarpiece - that is, "the perfect painting" - stands as an epitaph for the lost - probably dead - artist.
  • Safranski criticizes ETA Hoffmann's fleeting way of working.
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser refers to an illustrator, names two further references (Klaus-Dieter Dobat 1984 and Peter von Matt 1971: p. 61, 2nd Zvu (reference: p. 9, entry Dobat; p. 10, entry by Matt) ) and registers “a narrative that gradually darkens” (see also Jeanine Charue-Ferrucci in her contribution “ Red and Black in the Night Pieces . An Attempt at a Motive Analysis” in Paul, p. 166, 13. Zvo).
  • Jean-Jacques Pollet explains in the contribution “Word and Image in Hoffmann's Night Pieces ” that “bourgeois well-being” destroys Berthold's “art”. Michel Cadot examines the why in “Art and Artifacts in Some of Hoffmann's Night Pieces ”. Berthold's portrait of the princess failed after he married her. In the Jesuit church on the scaffolding in dialogue with the traveling enthusiast, Berthold investigates the cause. Art, he thinks, affects “the superhuman”. It "has to be God or the devil". Berthold succumbs to the latter: "The devil fools us with dolls to which he glues angelic wings."
  • Jeanine Charue-Ferrucci goes in her contribution “ Red and Black in the Night Pieces . Attempting a Motive Analysis ”goes into more detail on the fear that ETA Hoffmann wants to create in his night piece.
  • Jules Keller highlights in “Neither angel nor animal. The good and the bad in the nocturnal pieces ETA Hoffmann "" the romantic search for the ideal "emerge as Berthold's actual striving. Berthold is like that Prometheus , who had seen this ideal but could not achieve it. Berthold's sensuality is to blame for everything. The “vengeance of the gods” follows immediately.
  • When examining the term “night piece”, Nickel refers to ETA Hoffmann's interlude as a decorative painter at the Bamberg Theater . After that, when describing nocturnal scenes, the author falls back on his stage practice, here light-dark painting, in conjunction with lighting effects.


First edition

  • Pp. 212–278 in: Nachtstücke edited by the author of the Fantasy Pieces in Callot's manner. First part. Berlin, 1817. In the secondary school bookshop

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The Jesuit Church in G. P. 110-140 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Hrsg.): ETA Hoffmann: Night pieces. Little Zaches . Princess Brambilla . Works 1816–1820 Deutscher Klassiker Verlag in paperback. Vol. 36. Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-618-68036-9 (corresponds to: Vol. 3 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): "ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes", Frankfurt am Main 1985)

Secondary literature

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe : Philipp Hackert. Biographical sketch . Mostly based on his own essays drafted by Goethe in 1811, in: Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: Art Theoretical Writings and Translations. Schriften zur Bildenden Kunst, Vol. 19, Berlin 1973, pp. 523–721.
  • 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, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; realities on literature)
  • Detlef Kremer: ETA Hoffmann for an introduction. Junius Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-88506-966-0
  • Jean-Marie Paul (ed.): Dimension of the fantastic. Studies on ETA Hoffmann. Röhrig Universitätsverlag, St. Ingbert 1998 (Saarbrücker Contributions to Literary Studies; Vol. 61), ISBN 3-86110-173-4
  • 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
  • Almut Constanze Nickel: The literary night piece. Studies on a Neglected Genus. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-55506-4 (Anselm Maler (Ed.): Studies on Modern Literature, Vol. 14, also dissertation at the University of Kassel in May 2008)
  • Alexandra Heimes: The Jesuit Church in G. P. 190–196 in Detlef Kremer (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann. Life - work - effect. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-018382-5


  1. For Steinecke (in the edition used, p. 990, footnote 110.1) the abbreviations in the text (except Angiola T.) have been deciphered. It can hardly be otherwise: G. means Glogau , N.  Neisse , M. Munich and O. die Oder .
  2. Previously, the college in Protestant Silesia was a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation . The action runs several years after the Jesuit order was abolished . Nevertheless, the teaching post, i.e. the professorship, remained in place (Steinecke in the edition used, p. 991, footnotes 110.31).
  3. The Glogau church in question (photo above right) was built in the “ Jesuit style ” ( Italian Baroque ) (Steinecke in the edition used, p. 991, footnote 111.6).
  4. ETA Hoffmann probably did an apprenticeship at Molinary (Safranski, p. 107 below).

Individual evidence

  1. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 953 above
  2. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 986 above: "Origin"
  3. cited by Steinecke in the edition used, pp. 951.3. Zvu
  4. see also Gerhard R. Kaiser, p. 55, 17. Zvo
  5. Edition used, p. 130, 20. Zvo
  6. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 994, footnote 134,34
  7. see also Gerhard R. Kaiser, p. 144, 10th Zvu
  8. Edition used, p. 140, 3. Zvo
  9. see also Charue-Ferrucci in the article “ Red and Black in the Night Pieces . An attempt at a motive analysis ”in Paul, p. 173, 13th Zvu and p. 173, 1st Zvu
  10. Edition used, pp. 123, 33. Zvo
  11. Edition used, pp. 131, 36. Zvo
  12. cited by Steinecke in the edition used, p. 988 under "Effect"
  13. Kremer anno 1998, p. 67
  14. Steinecke in the edition used, pp. 986–990
  15. ^ Polish: Kościół Bożego Ciała w Głogowie
  16. Heimes, p. 196
  17. Safranski, p. 411, 11. Zvu
  18. ^ Gerhard R. Kaiser, p. 195, 5th Zvo
  19. ^ Gerhard R. Kaiser, p. 55, 8. Zvo
  20. ^ Pollet in Paul, p. 118 below
  21. Cadot in Paul, pp. 203-204
  22. Edition used, p. 118, 4. Zvo
  23. Edition used, p. 119, 13. Zvo
  24. Charue-Ferrucci in Paul, pp. 178-179
  25. ^ Keller in Paul, p. 194 below to p. 196 above
  26. Nickel, p. 62
  27. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 943 above

Web links

Wikisource: The Jesuit Church in G.  - Sources and full texts