Don Juan (ETA Hoffmann)

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Don Juan is a romantic artist novella by ETA Hoffmann , which was preprinted on March 31, 1813 in the “ Allgemeine Musikischen Zeitung ” in Leipzig and appeared the following year in volume 1 of “Fantasiestücke in Callot 's manner”.

The traveling enthusiast admires and adores the actress who played Donna Anna in Mozart'sDon Giovanni ”. With the text ETA Hoffmann paid tribute to the young singer Elisabeth Röckel .


The protagonist and first-person narrator, i.e. the traveling enthusiast, moves alternately on two levels - the everyday and the fantastic. The latter can be located on the foreign box No. 23 of a provincial theater in the German-speaking area and the rest - a hotel room and the inn in the hotel - is everyday life. The everyday level is merely a “contrast medium” for the dominant fantastic level. The traveling enthusiast focuses his entire imagination during and after the performance of Mozart's “Don Giovanni” on Donna Anna, more precisely: on the Italian singer of the role. On a fantastic level, laws of logic are apparently suspended. How else can it be that Donna Anna is present both on stage and in the alien's box?

The traveling enthusiast tells his friend Theodor about this “fabulous incident”, which lasted less than a day, in the form of a letter.


The waiter draws the traveling enthusiast's attention to a wallpaper door in his room. Via this the traveler arrives directly in Nro. 23. This is the alien box. Down on the stage, “Don Juan from the famous Mr. Mozart from Vienna” is being played. While the enthusiast, happily and alone in the box, is clutching the perfect masterpiece with all its "sensory fibers" and wants to "pull it into himself", it is as if someone slipped quietly into his box. But he does not want to be torn "from the wonderful moment of poetic-musical" exaltation. Because the enthusiast is "completely absorbed in the poetic world that" opened the opera for him. And yet - Donna Anna stands behind him in her costume. The enthusiast articulates his astonishment and receives an answer in the purest Tuscan language . The woman takes his first name and calls him by his first name. Because since she took on a role in the latest opera by the traveling enthusiast, she has known his innermost being.

After the opera performance, the enthusiast is fed up with the clutter at the inn and retires to his room. Once again in the dead of night he enters the alien's box through the tapestry door and calls down on the empty stage: "Donna Anna!"

Then "a wonderful sound trembles up" and Donna Anna appears to the enthusiast a second time. Everything that happened to her through don Juan gives rise to fears that she will not make it through the year. When the clock strikes two o'clock, the enthusiast thinks he hears Donna Anna's voice and thinks that a breath of the scent of her perfume wafts through the alien's box. It is as if an “airy orchestra” was playing and the enthusiast felt as if Donna Anna's voice was playing.

The following noon, the tinkering at the inn's table is interrupted by the terse news that the Signora who sang the role of Donna Anna died at two o'clock sharp at night.


  • Wetzel and Rochlitz praise the story after it was published. In the years that followed, music critics - for example Ludwig Rellstab in 1827 - mention E. T. A. Hoffmann's poetic attempt at the Donna Anna interpretation in connection with reviews of Don Giovanni performances.
  • Details can be found at Steinecke. For example, he goes into an incident from ETA Hoffmann's time in Poznan . The singer of Donna Anna is said to have died there after the first performance. Steinecke also mentions ETA Hoffmann's two decades younger Bamberg singing student Julia Mark as a possible role model for the protagonist.

In accordance with its fantastic foundation, hardly any text by ETA Hoffmann has been interpreted under such disparate aspects as "Don Juan":

  • On the one hand Werner writes, “In Hoffmann's view, man is lost who gets lost in the earthly. He withers as a Philistine or falls as a demonic nature - like don Juan - into the hands of evil. True human activity must relate to the anticipated supersensible world. ”And on the other hand, he would like to adhere to our everyday laws of logic:“ Why shouldn't Donna Anna get into the box of the strange composer she knows during a break? Or is it not possible that the traveling enthusiast, exhausted from the day’s experiences, dreamed of visiting the charming singer again? "
  • Von Matt marveled at ETA Hoffmann's sense of mission and confirmed it with the famous quote: “Only the poet understands the poet; only a romantic mind can enter into the romantic; only the poetically exalted spirit who received the consecration in the middle of the temple can understand what the consecrated man expresses in his enthusiasm. ”ETA Hoffmann leads the reader into“ flashing paradises ”. Even just a short stay in that developed area makes life as a reader worth living. Steinecke calls the quote one of the core sentences of "romantic aesthetics". Some interpreters interpreted and approved of the statement as follows: “Only the poet Hoffmann could understand the artist Mozart.” Yet ETA Hoffmann understood the opera “Don Giovanni” entirely at his own discretion.
  • Safranski examines the misfortune of the ugly body in its inversion; seeks an answer to the question: Why does Donna Anna flee Don Juan from the opera performance to the (ugly) traveling enthusiast in the foreigner's box? Answer: The Signora's beautiful body is her misfortune. So look for happiness in music. An ugly person (the enthusiast) could understand those who fled the stage.
  • The first-person narrator reproduces one of Donna Anna's confessions: "She said that her whole life was music, and she often believes that she can understand by singing some things that are secretly locked inside, which no words can utter." Kaiser takes such a being, so her "magical." [n] madness of eternally longing love ”, as the cause of death for Donna Anna.
  • After Schulz, ETA Hoffmann has rewritten Mozart's opera into an artist's novella. In addition, some of the sexual sensitivities of its author can be read from the text.
  • Kaiser and Steinecke name works by Dobat (1984), Hartmut Kaiser (1975), Jérôme Prieur (1978), Johanna Patzelt (1976), David E. Wellbery (1980), Wolfgang Wittkowski (1978) and Albert Meier (1992).

See also


First edition

  • Don juan A fabulous incident that happened to a traveling enthusiast . P. 197–240 in: ETA Hoffmann: Fantasiestücke in Callot's manner. Sheets from the diary of a traveling enthusiast. With a preface by Jean Paul. <First volume>. 240 pages. CF Kunz's new reading institute, Bamberg 1814

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: Don Juan. A fabulous incident that happened to a traveling enthusiast. P. 83–97 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: Fantasiestücke in Callot's manner. Works 1814. German classic publishing house in paperback. Vol. 14. Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-618-68014-7 (corresponds to: Vol. 2/1 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): "ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes", Frankfurt am Main 1993)

Secondary literature

  • Hans-Georg Werner: ETA Hoffmann. Representation and interpretation of reality in poetic work . Arion Verlag, Weimar 1962, p. 49-53 .
  • Peter von Matt : The eyes of the machines. ETA Hoffmann's theory of imagination as a principle of his storytelling . Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 1971, ISBN 3-484-18018-8 .
  • Rüdiger Safranski : ETA Hoffmann. The life of a skeptical fantasist. 2nd Edition. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001 (1st edition 1984), ISBN 3-596-14301-2 .
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; realities on literature)
  • Gerhard Schulz : The German literature between the French Revolution and the restoration. Part 2. The Age of the Napoleonic Wars and the Restoration: 1806–1830. CH Beck, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-406-09399-X .
  • Albert Meier : Aliens' lodge and tavern. On the poetic function of the shock of reality in ETA Hoffmann's fantasy piece “Don Juan” . In: Zeitschrift für Deutsche Philologie 111 (1992), pp. 516-531.

Individual evidence

  1. Steinecke, p. 683, 7th Zvu
  2. Schulz, p. 427
  3. Steinecke, pp. 673 and 931
  4. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 553
  5. Steinecke, p. 676 above
  6. ^ Kaiser, p. 36, 7. Zvo
  7. Steinecke, p. 680, 6. Zvu and p. 681, 7. Zvo
  8. Steinecke, p. 676 below
  9. Steinecke, p. 678, 13th Zvu
  10. Steinecke, pp. 673-689
  11. Steinecke, p. 676 above
  12. Werner, p. 53, 15. Zvu
  13. Werner, p. 52, 16. Zvu
  14. Edition used, p. 92, 7. Zvo
  15. by Matt, p. 170, 4. Zvo
  16. Steinecke, p. 685, 9. Zvo
  17. Steinecke, p. 685, 13. Zvo
  18. ^ Safranski, p. 259, 18. Zvo
  19. Edition used, p. 88, 23. Zvo
  20. ^ Kaiser, p. 35, 2nd Zvu
  21. Edition used, pp. 88, 36. Zvo
  22. Schulz, p. 427, 13. Zvo
  23. ^ Kaiser, p. 43, entry "Don Juan"
  24. Steinecke, p. 922, entry "Don Juan"
  25. ^ French Jérôme Prieur

Web links

Wikisource: Don Juan  - Sources and full texts