The Golden Pot: and other tales of the uncanny (Paperback)

The Golden Pot: and other tales of the uncanny By E. T. A. Hoffmann, Peter Wortsman (Translated by) Cover Image

The Golden Pot: and other tales of the uncanny (Paperback)

By E. T. A. Hoffmann, Peter Wortsman (Translated by)

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“I could list plausible comparisons all day and night, but The Golden Pot is simply unlike anything else I have ever read.” — Justin Taylor, The Washington Post

Macabre and fantastical, Hoffmann’s wildly imaginative tales offer an unflinching view of human nature and sing clearer than ever in a masterful new translation


Whether a surrealist exploration of the anxieties surrounding automation, or a mystery concerning a goldsmith, missing jewels, and a spate of murders, each tale in this collection reveals the complexities of human desire and fear.

Hoffman, whose most famous work is “The Nutcracker,” is often compared to Edgar Allan Poe. Hoffman’s massive influence qualifies him as the godfather of the German Romantic Movement which led to the horror genre.

The macabre, fantastical nature of his subject matter inspired a broad swath of culture, with two of the longer stories in this collection “The Sandman” and “The Automaton” influencing Philip K. Dick’s original inspiration for Blade Runner. The murder mystery “Mademoiselle de Scudéry” is perhaps one of the earliest prototypes of the detective genre story.

Music and madness flow through E.T.A. Hoffmann’s phantasmagoric stories. The ringing of crystal bells heralds the arrival of a beguiling snake, and a student’s descent into lunacy; a young man abandons his betrothed for a woman who plays the piano skillfully but seems worryingly wooden; a counselor’s daughter must choose between singing and her life.

Peter Wortsman’s masterful new translation allows Hoffmann’s distinct and influential style to shine, while breathing new life into stories that seem both familiar and uncanny.
Prussian-born E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) was one of the most influential authors of the German Romantic era. An artistic polymath with a fierce passion for music, Hoffmann spent much of his life struggling to reconcile his career as a bureaucrat with his commitment to his art.  His stories, renowned for their combination of fantastic and macabre elements with twisting psychological realism, are often preoccupied with themes of artistic madness and the blurring of lines between the real and supernatural. His works exercised a profound influence on writers such as Balzac, Poe, Dostoevsky, and Kafka, as well as composers such as Schumann, Offenbach and Tchaikovsky.

Translator Peter Wortsman is the author of several short fiction collections and plays, an essay collection, and a travel memoir Ghost Dance in Berlin. His translations from the German include works by Peter Altenberg, Heinrich Heine, Robert Musil, Adelbert von Chamisso, Heinrich von Kleist, the Brothers Grimm and Franz Kafka.
Product Details ISBN: 9781953861702
ISBN-10: 1953861709
Publisher: Archipelago
Publication Date: October 24th, 2023
Pages: 425
Language: English
“Hoffmann’s influence ranges far beyond Freud: Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Nikolai Gogol, Oscar Wilde and Franz Kafka all seem impossible without his precedent . . . I could list plausible comparisons all day and night (see above), but The Golden Pot is simply unlike anything else I have ever read.” — Justin Taylor, The Washington Post

"...the translation is pitch perfect, conveying the fluid passage between quotidian reality and its poetic hinterland." – Joanna Neilly, Times Literary Supplement

“The Hoffmann stories that stand out today are those in which primal fear intersects with—indeed, is stoked by—a society undergoing changes that baffle its inhabitants . . . Given his work's deft amalgamation of fear and awe, it's no wonder that the stories in this collection speak to the anxieties of the 21st century.” – Kevin Canfield, New Myths