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E. T. A. HoffmanTransgressive Romanticism$
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Christopher R. Clason

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941213

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941213.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Vergiftete Gaben

Vergiftete Gaben

Violating the Laws of Hospitality in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “Das Fräulein von Scuderi”

(p.45) Chapter Two Vergiftete Gaben
E. T. A. Hoffman

Peter Erickson

Liverpool University Press

This chapter shows how the novella represents transgression against the law and custom on more levels than perhaps any other work by Hoffmann, as it penetrates the psychology of the criminal mind, reveals the inner workings of the judicial system, illustrates how the police conducts investigations, and considers crime as a sociological phenomenon. It especially addresses issues around semantic and psychological aspects of “Gift” – a term whose primary meaning in German is “poison,” and how, in the novella’s social environment, the bestowing of a gift contains a latent violence, which becomes intensified and is unleashed in a slew of transgressive acts on the Paris of Louis XIV. Erickson points out, however, that there are numerous other transgressions that occur in the tale, which typify the society Hoffmann describes: the “gift” of expensive jewelry is customarily used in negotiation for sex, while violence is so widespread that it has usurped the customs of ordinary hospitality.

Keywords:   gift, poison, generosity, jewelry, murder, investigation, hospitality

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