The desire to propose to his beloved Olympia occurred pretty soon. Intending to settle everything, Nathanael found a ring of his mother and went to the professor to make a gift to his beloved “as a symbol of his affection, and new, blossoming life together” [7, p. 125].
Running up the stairs, the character heard clattering, clinking of broken glass, thudding accompanied by cursing and swearing coming from cabinet Spalanzani’s room. He was already able to distinguished shouts:
— Dishonest villain, I have put all my life into her! — Ha-ha-ha! I made her eyes!
— But I made the winding mechanism!
— Goddamn rascal! Let me go!
— Satan! Bastard! Get away!
The door of the room opened, and the young man saw the professor and his disgusting Sandman who were jerking and literally tearing apart his Olympia. Nathanael was dumbfounded. Then the Sandman pulled the doll out of the Spalanzani’s hands, and, dragging his prey, ran down the stairs and disappeared.
Rage possessed Nathanael, and blind with anger, he rushed to the professor and “would have strangled him if it were not for the people who ran to them. Madness caught him with its burning claws and penetrated into the soul, tearing his thoughts and feelings » [7, p. 126]. Raging, emitting bestial howls the young man was tied up and taken to asylum.
Thanks to the care of doctors, relatives, and especially Clara, Nathanael came back to normal and gradually became the same. However, the tragic outcome of the history was not to be avoided. Nathanael, who had realized that Clara was his happiness, finally decided to cast in his life with her and move to his estate. Wishing to bid farewell to the town, they rise to the Town Hall Tower, he took from a notorious telescope from his pocket, the one which was previously mentioned, to view the surrounding mountains, but his look fell on the area under their feet. And… oh, horror! Among the people beneath he saw his Sandman. His mind suddenly went dizzy, Clara turned into a scary doll and, if not prevented, he would have pushed her down from the tower. Though Nathanael himself could not keep steady.
The short novel “The Sandman” is a perfect illustration to many pages of Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason.” Such works of Hoffmann as “The Devil’s Elixirs”, “Serapion Brothers”, in various forms treat acute epistemological problems relevant to both pre-Kantian philosophy and the philosophy of transcendental idealism. Everything written by Hoffmann brings certain tinges to the question of distinguishing between real and imaginable. Considering this, I am able to say that well-known world-duality of Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann rests on the Kantian dualism. Fantasy world of subjective visions is correlated by “postromantic” Hoffmann in a Kantian way with the empirical reality, which outs off any subjectivity. Factual and fictional are intertwined in his works, but they are never identified — ultimately the reality and fantasy take their own placement. So, with a skillful hand the writer piles phantasmagoric scenes in a fairy tale “Royal Bride”, perplexing and confusing an unsophisticated reader, where the romantic style and methods of romantic text-building play with all the colors of a “vegetation” rainbow, but at the end the author reports that the tale is built on a true story learnt from the newspapers: the owner of a vegetable plot plucked out a carrot and found a gold ring with a stunning diamond in it, through which the carrot grew. Immediately the imagination was triggered and the author sparked the characters of the tale. However, unlike Nathanael, the fairy-tale characters could harness their imagination and the ending was equally happy to the event which inspired the story. Hoffmann is didactic while concluding the tale: “Let salamanders be quick-tempered, sylphs be light-headed, undines be amorous and passionate, and gnomes — evil and treacherous, it is something to put up with… If one once surrenders to one of these creatures, they will be able to make a human look different. Even worse, they will drag you in their kingdom, from which you will never be able to get back to the surface ” [5, p. 212].
The fact that in Hoffmann’s world-duality one of the worlds is always a reality in its flesh and blood, and the other one is the world of fantasy, serving as a criterion for assessing the reality of the world as an ideal, or, on the contrary, anti-ideal, distinguishes the artistic method of Hoffmann from a romantic one and prevents from identifying Hoffmann as a romantic. N. Berkovsky points at this, from his point of view, strange thing: “One of the ironies of history is that Hoffmann, the one who implemented the principles of German romanticism the best, was reluctantly accepted as equal by the very German romantics» [1, p. 426]. This paradox mentioned by Berkovsky can be explained just by the fact that Hoffmann, completely free in terms of all the romantic devices, ironically played with them. At the core of his philosophy, he was not a romantic, and they felt it. Having the opportunity to learn from the Romantics, Hoffmann was not fond of extreme idealism. Since the times of his youth he was soberly critical to the world around him, knew the value of the reality, and was able to appreciate it. It was not a single time when his hand wrote a line like this: “I may be lucky, like a good portrait painter, to aptly grasp some faces that you would find recognizable even without knowing the original, and you would even think that you had seen these people with your own eyes. And maybe then, my reader, would you believe that there is nothing more wonderful and insane than the actual real life… ” [7, p. 111].
From his very first steps Hoffmann was valued as a master of belles-lettres, though there always were those who could acknowledge significance of his profound thought. Though there were many such people in Russia, of which we could not but mention V. Belinsky, F. Dostoevsky and V. Soloviev, Germany, of course, saw a wider audience.
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This article was firstly published in collected articles “Kantovsky Sbornik” (2013):
Kalinnikov L. To think of a thing and to learn a thing is not the same…”, or E.T.A. Hoffmann and “Transcendental analysis”// Kantovsky Sbornik. Selected articles. 2012: academic journal. 2013. P. 39 – 50.