E.T.A. Hoffmann is most
famous as the author of the eNutcrackerf, and there is
a large number of people who have heard the name, or the ballet, but do not
know who wrote the tale. Casting
the dancing sugar-plum fairies to one side, Hoffmannfs finest short stories are
eDer Goldne Topff (eThe Golden Potf, which was translated by Thomas Carlyle, as
only Thomas Carlyle could) and eKlein Zaches genannt Zinnoberf, which is here
presented. He was a man of many
talents and a great storyteller; unfortunately, versatility often provokes
claims of dilentanttism, and literary critics do not always appreciate those
who can give the reader a story well told.
For a long time, neither
eKlein Zachesf is a humorous tale. The author employs irony to poke fun at Enlightenment, German Romanticism (through the echaracterf of the soppy hero, Balthasar), and, through Little Zaches, at himself. The theme of wasted reward and misdirected reproach, which rises from the spell cast on Zaches by the Fairy Rosabelverde, may perhaps draw forth slightly darker thoughts from the readerfs mind.