Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Keeping your eyes peeled is nothing to take literallly.

From The Guardian:

In 1816, only four years after the Brothers Grimm brought out a collection of fairy tales carefully selected and edited for the use of children, ETA Hoffmann published his Nutcracker and Mouse King. To the extent that Hoffmann’s fairy tale introduced rather weird, even scary elements, his story departed significantly from what the Grimm brothers would have considered proper. It would seem that Hoffmann had a very different approach to what was uncomfortable and upsetting for children. But most of his fantastic tales that focus on the scary aspects of childhood memories —involving children, dolls, or automata — were actually written for adults. Thus The Sandman, published in the same year, might shock its readers by reminding us of the fragility of our sane and safe reality. At the same time, however, this story also demonstrates how literature and the arts are uniquely able to deal with the uncanny elements lurking in our midst.
In The Sandman we learn how an aspiring young poet, Nathan, is confronted with his most traumatic childhood memories and ultimately driven into madness and death. A certain salesman of optical devices, Coppola, seems to Nathan to be the very same sinister visitor who used to visit his father during Nathan’s childhood. Each evening before the visitor’s arrival, Nathan’s mother would send the children quickly to bed. She would scare them with the old wives’ tale of the Sandman, who throws sand into the eyes of unruly children to make the eyes jump out of their heads, allowing the Sandman to collect and feed them to his own children. Young Nathan, overwhelmed with curiosity, manages to hide behind the curtain of the closet in his father’s study and watch the two men conduct an alchemical experiment. Their faces hideously distorted by the flames of a hidden stove, what he sees both fascinates and utterly frightens the boy. When Nathan is discovered, his father’s visitor utters the most violent threats and the boy loses consciousness. One year later the visitor returns for one final evening, which ends with an explosion that kills Nathan’s father.
Although this scene contains the traumatic core of the story, it merely constitutes part of the story’s introduction...
Here's a pdf of the terrifying tale.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We enjoy hearing from visitors! Please leave your questions, thoughts, wish lists, or whatever else is on your mind.