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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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Transgressive Science in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Fantastic Tales

Transgressive Science in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Fantastic Tales

(p.65) Chapter Three Transgressive Science in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Fantastic Tales
E. T. A. Hoffman

Paola Mayer

Liverpool University Press

The third chapter discusses Hoffmann’s representation of transgressive uses of science, and particularly the characterization of the scientists who transgress in this way, in three works: “Master Flea,” “The Sand Man,” and “The Magnetiseur.” In the first two stories, the reader discovers the empirical scientist as a recurring type, for whom Romantic values (such as love, respect for life and for nature, and an empathetic way to acquiring knowledge) are relatively unimportant, and who, as a result, perform monstrous deeds. However, the Romantic scientist, such as Alban in “Der Magnetiseur,” also runs the risk of perverse actions, in that (s)he could employ imagination merely to gain power over others. Through their manipulation of nature and their instrumentalization of other human beings, the scientist-characters in all three tales transgress boundaries to acquire new knowledge, but do so monstrously.

Keywords:   science, scientist, nature, aberration, monstrosity

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