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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, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 03 June 2020

“Real Humor Cannot Be Captured in a Novel”

“Real Humor Cannot Be Captured in a Novel”

Kierkegaard Reading E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr

Chapter:
(p.212) Chapter Eleven “Real Humor Cannot Be Captured in a Novel”
Source:
E. T. A. Hoffman
Author(s):

James Rasmussen

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781786941213.003.0012

The final essay essay addresses not only Kierkegaard’s reception of Hoffmann, but also the humor at work in Hoffmann’s Kater Murr. From a Kierkegaardian point of view, Kater Murr transgresses its own generic limitations in a way that points to something like genuine humor. Kierkegaard sees subtle deviations in the kind of humor generated in this novel from that which Hoffmann produces in numerous other works, and suggests that, uniquely in this novel, Hoffmann transgresses the distinctions between irony and humor, on which Kierkegaard insists. In Kater Murr Hoffmann does not seek to place the ironic self above the world, but rather strategizes to see oneself “in the midst” of that world, therefore inhabiting it more fully. This suggestion transgresses the customary view that the Romantic ironist, especially Kreisler, must occupy a sovereign position. The relationship between the cat and Kreisler thus forces the latter to become more grounded in the life which he has rejected up to this point, and simultaneously fixes the humor within the text, as an element fundamental to the lives that the novel recounts

Keywords:   novel, humor, Kierkegaard, Kater Murr, irony

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