Player luck

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Player luck is a story by ETA Hoffmann , which appeared in the sixth section of the third volume of the collection " Die Serapionsbrüder " in 1820 by G. Reimer in Berlin. The text in the annual calendar was “Urania. Pocket book on the year 1820 ”was preprinted by FA Brockhaus in Leipzig.

The beautiful Angela Vertua is not happy in a love triangle .


The Serapion brother Theodor (that is ETA Hoffmann) reads:

The Chevalier Menars was so lucky that he established a bank in Paris that soon became the richest in the metropolis on the Seine. Some people lose their entire fortune at the gaming table; among others the widowed usurer Signor Francesco Vertua, who has lived in Paris for fifteen years . The native Neapolitan ran a casino in Genoa. After Vertua has also gambled away his Parisian house on Rue St. Honoré , Menars accompanies the old man home. The extremely rich Menars wants to take possession of the beggar Vertua's house. The Chevalier, who has never made love, becomes a different person after the sight of the lovely Angela - she is the loser's only daughter. The pure heaven child disdains the "cassette" with the playful money of the father and rejects the new lover proudly, seriously and calmly. The next day the father advises the daughter to accept the generous gift of money. When the three protagonists meet by chance in the Malmaison palace garden , Angela gives in and becomes more inclined over time. Finally, as the happy bride of the Chevalier Menar, Angela is plagued by remorse. The young neighbor's son Duvernet rides past in uniform. Doomed, Angela's first love moves to Spain. The reproachful look of the mounted hunter penetrates deeply.

As a husband, the Chevalier Menars takes care. Some time after old Vertua died, Menars began playing again. The player luck lasts and helps to new wealth. After a young player had put a bullet through his head at the gaming table at Menars' Parisian casino, the Chevalier followed his wife to Genoa, her birthplace. There in Northern Italy, Menars initially stays away from the gaming table, but finally he can't help it and enters the richest Genoese casino. The latter is held by a French colonel who is unfit for military service . Player luck leaves Menars. Having become a beggar, the Chevalier plays with the military for twenty thousand ducats for his wife Angela. When the colonel has won, he reveals himself to the Chevalier as the Duvernet who was brought up together with Angela. He followed the couple from France to Italy and has his opponent in the trap. The beloved woman is his. When the colonel wants to take possession of the winnings, Angela lies dead in her bed at home.


The structure is more nested than sketched above. Serapion's brother Theodor tells a story in which a poorly dressed, distinguished, elderly stranger in Pyrmont wants to save the young German passionate Faro player Baron Siegfried from ruin with the story of the player Menars. He succeeds. In the third to last sentence of his story, ETA Hoffmann reveals to the reader that the stranger is the unhappy Chevalier Menars.

ETA Hoffmann shows the passion of the card players plausibly. The old Vertua performs the gestures at the gaming table while still on his deathbed - such as drawing cards, et cetera.


Statements by contemporaries

  • Theodor Hell calls the author brilliant in the " Dresdner Abendzeitung " of November 20, 1819.
  • The reviewer in the " Cotta'schen Literaturblatt " expressed his praise in 1819 as follows: "We didn't recognize Hoffmann in the happiness of the players."
  • The “ newspaper for the elegant world ” of November 2, 1819 is full of praise. ETA Hoffmann may warn, stir and instruct masterfully, but does not preach.
  • In the "Hermes" it is written about the text in 1820: "The innermost essence and secret of gambling is so true and surprisingly expressed ..."
  • And Konrad Schwenck wrote in 1823 that although the end was a “coup d'état”, the story was nicely invented.

Recent comments

  • Details can be found at Segebrecht. Only once in his life, in the summer of 1798, did ETA Hoffmann go on a vacation trip. On the occasion he observed the life and goings-on in a casino in Warmbrunn . In addition, the poet sometimes met players or their relatives throughout his life. Segebrecht names the Bamberg actor Carl Friedrich Leo, the Berlin literary figures Ferdinand Moritz Freiherr von Lüttwitz, Friedrich Wilhelm d'Elpons and the officer Friedrich Ehrenreich Adolf Ludwig Rochus von Rochow . The latter shot himself in 1799 because of his gambling debts.
  • In his text, ETA Hoffmann anticipated the portrayal of the gamblers from “ Das Chagrinleder ”, “ Father Goriot ” and “ The Gambler ”. Pushkin used motifs from “lucky players ” in “ Queen of Spades”. In the narrative, vain attempts to abstain from play are presented several times.
  • Segebrecht names a work by U. Henry Gerlachs (1998) and Kaiser a Schenck (1939).


First edition in the Serapion Brothers

  • Player luck 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: Player luck. P. 856-894 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

  • 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)

Individual evidence

  1. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221, 7th Zvo and p. 1681, 2nd Zvu
  2. Segebrecht, p. 1533, 7. Zvo
  3. see also Safranski, p. 113, 14. Zvo
  4. Edition used, p. 880, 20. Zvo
  5. Dresdner Abendzeitung
  6. quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1534, 2nd Zvu
  7. "Cotta'sches Literaturblatt", 1819, No. 50, quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1534, 20. Zvo
  8. quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1534, 4th Zvu
  9. ^ "Hermes", 1820, p. 217, quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1534, 10. Zvo
  10. quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1536
  11. Segebrecht, pp. 1532–1541
  12. Segebrecht, p. 1533, 15. Zvu
  13. Kaiser, p. 77, 15. Zvu
  14. Stein (1927) and Ingham (1974), cited in Kaiser, p. 185, 15. Zvo
  15. ^ Kaiser, p. 143, 13th Zvu
  16. Segebrecht, p. 1675, penultimate entry
  17. ^ Kaiser, p. 85, penultimate entry
  18. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221 above

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