There is none of Poe's objectivity in Hoffmann, but he uses his subjectivity in a peculiarly Romantic fashion. It is his idea to raise the reader above the every-day point of view, to flee from this to a magic world where the unusual shall take the place of the real and where wonder shall rule. So there are in Hoffmann's stories a series of characters who are really doubles.
In the upper story of the same house lived a poor boy with his mother, who was so far crazed as to believe herself to be the Virgin Mary, and her son the Saviour of the world. Wild fancies, likewise, were to sweep through the brain of that child. He was to meet Hoffmann elsewhere and be his friend in after years, though as yet they knew nothing of each other.
She lay awake a long time, watching the fire-glow brighten and darken on the ceiling, tunes from "The Tales of Hoffmann" running in her head; thoughts and fancies crisscrossing in her excited brain. Falling asleep at last, she dreamed she was feeding doves out of her hand, and one of them was Daphne Wing. She woke with a start.
The portrait was hung on the left of the entrance door and only separated by it from his great-grandfather of 1247, whom he might have assisted, had these venerable portraits taken some night a fancy to descend from their frames to execute a dance such as Hoffmann dreamed.
To the uninitiated they seem every-day creatures; to those who know, they are fairies or beings from the supernatural world. Such characters are found at their best in The Golden Pot. Hoffmann has influenced both French and English literatures more than any other Romantic poet. Hawthorne and Poe read him, and he was felt by the French to be one of the first Germans whom they understood.
A much more successful attempt was the “Sentimental Journey, Intended as a Sequel to Mr. Sterne’s, Through Italy, Switzerland and France, by Mr. Shandy,” two volumes, 12mo, 1793. This was evidently the original of Schink’s work; “Empfindsame Reisen durch Italien, die Schweiz und Frankreich, ein Nachtrag zu den Yorikschen. Aus und nach dem Englischen,” Hamburg, Hoffmann, 1794, pp. 272,
Beyond the persistent rumors that the city, cut off from the fields, would starve in another two days and that the legendary armies of Hoffmann were within a stone's throw of the Hofbrau House, there was little excitement. "My employers," von Stinnes had explained on the fourth day, "are waiting to see if the Soviet can stand against the Noske armies from Prussia.
In "The Portrait," which is partly written in the minute manner of Balzac, and partly with the imaginative fantastic horror of Poe and Hoffmann, we have the two sides of Gogol's nature clearly reflected. Into this strange story he has also indicated two of the great guiding principles of his life: his intense democratic sympathies, and his devotion to the highest ideals in Art.
He published, among other things, a Life of Schiller, a translation of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, and two volumes of translations from the German romancers Tieck, Hoffmann, Richter, and Fouqué and contributed to the Edinburgh and Foreign Review articles on Goethe, Werner, Novalis, Richter, German playwrights, the Nibelungen Lied, etc. His own diction became more and more tinctured with Germanisms.
I must give J. Hoffmann, who from this time forward was the manager of the Riga theatre, the credit of having felt the treachery practised upon me very deeply indeed. He told me that his contract with Dorn bound him only for one year, and that the moment the twelve months had elapsed he wished to come to a fresh agreement with me.