A Random Blog of Everything I like
As written in the title, The Sandman by E.T.A Hoffmann is, as far as I remember, the oldest story I have ever read. I thought Sherlock will remain as my oldest story (it was first published in 1887)…but the Sandman set a new record in my reading life.
The Sandman is considered as a short story, but it wasn’t as short as I expected it to be. It took 3 days for me to finish it. The first day was the hardest because somehow I was bored with it…the level of boredom could easily be traced by falling asleep. I couldn’t pass 2 paragraphs without falling asleep. It was probably because of the language. I am used to read nowadays book, with The Lord of The Rings being the oldest (I read Sherlock in my native language). The Sandman is a translation from Der Sandmann, a book written in German. I am used to read book translated from Japanese translation but this book was my first book from German. Somehow those rows of sentences didn’t get into my imagination; I couldn’t build up the world Nathaniel was talking about in my brain. This situation always resulted in falling asleep.
However, I was glad that the story finally kicked in when I get to this part:
“Eh, Natty,” said she, “do you not know that yet? He is a wicked man, who comes to children when they will not go to bed, and throws a handful of sand into their eyes, so that they start out bleeding from their heads. These eyes he puts in a bag and carries them to the half-moon to feed his own children, who sit in the nest up yonder, and have crooked beaks like owls with which they may pick up the eyes of the naughty human children.”
A most frightful image of the cruel Sandman was horribly depicted in my mind, and when in the evening I heard the noise on the stairs, I trembled with agony and alarm
The images started to build up and the story created scenes in my head. From that moment on, I fully enjoyed the story. I could have finished the story in one day (after the falling asleep moment) but time was clearly not my advantage.
The Sandman began with 3 correspondence letters, from Nathaniel to Lothaire, from Clarato Nathaniel and from Nathaniel to Lothaire. Nathaniel left his town to study, he always wrote to Clara, his loved one, and to Lothaire, Clara’s brother. Nathaniel hadn’t written to them for quite some times, when he finally sent them a letter, it was about his paranoia over The Sandman. He believed that a man named Coppelius was the Sandman and he had killed his father. Coppelius was a bitter man who often annoyed Nathaniel when he was a kid. Nathaniel told Lothaire that a man named Coppola appeared before him and he reminded him so much of Coppelius.
When Nathaniel went back to his town, his stories became grimmer and grimmer each day. It bothered Clara so much because she loved the cheerful Nathaniel more.
Nathaniel’s problem was not only Coppelius and Coppola, he encountered another problem when he found himself completely in love with Olympia and forgetting that Clara ever exist in his life. Poor Clara didn’t deserve Nathaniel at all.
Whatever happened to Nathaniel, Clara, Olympia and The Sandman is something you have to read for yourself.
The story on Olympia was a bit unusual but considering it was made over century ago, it was okay to imagine something like that. I am a bit confused with The Sandman himself. What was his purpose, why he was called as Sandman, and was Coppelius really the scary sandman? The story left some unanswered questions. I guessed I can’t expect much detail from short story after all.
Overall, The Sandman is a dark story. Not as scary as nowadays story but we can clearly feel the dark atmosphere. Nathaniel is not a fun character to read but he is interesting to read. The Sandman makes me curious with Hoffmann’s other stories.
I have to thank Caroline for introducing The Sandman to me, she gave me a link too, but I used other link instead because I can’t read long story in computer and the link she gave me needed a lot of editing before I can print it. If you are interested, give the link in the Story Detail section.