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The Devil's Elixirs (Oneworld Classics) [Paperback]

E.T.A. Hoffmann
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2009 Oneworld Classics
The son of a heinous sinner, Medardus is brought up in a monastery to atone for his father's wicked ways. However, after succumbing to temptation, Medardus himself is lured into a life of sin. A labyrinthine plot sees him embarking on a fantastical journey into the world, meeting his doppelganger, involving himself in a game of double impersonation, and becoming embroiled in murderous intrigues at the Vatican, before the mysterious curse hanging over him and his family is finally explained. First published in 1815, "The Devil's Elixirs" is a macabre masterpiece of German literature, and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Romantic movement, or the genres of fantasy and horror which it spawned.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Classics Ltd (1 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847490840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847490841
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 392,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'E.T.A Hoffman belongs to that eternal guild of poets and visionaries who take revenge on the life that is tormenting them by showing it examples of forms more colourful and diverse than reality can manage to convey.' --Stefan Zweig

About the Author

E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) was a composer, caricaturist, critic and author. His work, often bizarre and grotesque, was hugely influential on writers such as Dostoevsky, Kafka and Poe.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, great edition. 15 Dec 2008
By Michael
This book has been a favourite of mine for a long time, and it's great to see it presented in such a fine-looking new edition.

The story is full of fantastic and bizarre characters and the plot twists and turns mercilessly. This wonderful translation does full justice to the colourful, macabre style of the original. A highly influential classic of German literature that certainly deserves greater appreciation in the English-speaking world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I love all of Hoffmann's works and was delighted to see that there have been a couple of translations of this work appear in the last two years.

The story is a wonderful gothic mystery told with a fair amount of humour, full of all the themes of the romantic / gothic period.

As the two translations go, this book is a reprint of a translation last published in the 1960s. As such it does have a kind of out of date feel to it when compared to the Grosvenor House translation which has a much more modern feel to it which was only done last year.
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4.0 out of 5 stars When Monks Attack 8 Feb 2013
By AJ-99
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A monk dabbles with a diabolic elixir, runs amok across Europe and is tormented by a sinister double.

Although this contains all the usual Hoffmann themes it somehow didn't grab me as much as his
other work. It has its moments, and may satisfy the cravings of confirmed Hoffmann addicts (of which I am one), but it's probably not the best place for a newcomer to start. That would be 'Tomcat Murr' or the Oxford World Classics 'Golden Pot and other Tales'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonkers!! 29 Dec 2013
By Mark Harris - Published on
This classic Gothic novel about a mad monk is completely deranged, and I mean that in a good way. Don't ask too many questions, just hang on for the ride. When you finally get to the lengthy explanation of who was really who, realize that you will need a PhD in genealogy to understand it. Sample dialogue: "You mad fools, will you tempt the providence that passes judgment on guilty sinners?"
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must have in your home library 28 Oct 2001
By Brad Bell - Published on
It is a shame that the book is out of print and extremely hard to find. I read it long time ago in Russian, and cannot wait to find a copy in English. A mindblowing outlook on human excistance and moral dillemas.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fenomenalno 20 April 2000
By Tijana - Published on
Ova knjiga se nikako ne moze zaobici. Od velike vaznosti za razvoj evropske knjizevnosti.
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