“I enjoyed nothing better than reading or hearing horrible stories of goblins, witches, pygmies, etc., but most horrible of all was the Sandman, whom I was always drawing with chalk or charcoal, on the tables, cupboards, and walls, in the oddest and most frightful shapes.”
-Nathaniel in The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffman
It would be really traumatic that at such a young age you were told that there is one person in this world that exists only to steal eyes in children who wouldn’t go to sleep, only to feed them on his own.I think every child (that includes me, when I was once), had their shares of frightful experiences.When I was young, I used to imagine scenes in my mind from the sounds that I heard, and sometimes, those mental images that I created haunted me in my dreams.Or maybe there might be some instances when your parents (or anyone older) would scare you off with something (or someone) just to make you do something you wouldn’t want to do, like sleeping in the afternoons or eating your vegetables.I, for once, have been told that the old man living three blocks away from our house kidnaps children who wouldn’t sleep in the afternoons.I’ve believed that with all of my heart, and that old man (who happened to be a noble retired soldier) became my object of fear for quite a long time.
At some point we find it hard to distinguish the thin line between reality and fantasy.Sometimes, the reality-illusion dichotomy fascinates us.At some instances, we became victims of illusion’s occasional tendency to become more genuine than the actual reality.Such is the tragic story of Nathaniel in E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Sandman.
This novella, which is the first in the book of stories of the author’s Die Nachtstucke (The Night Pieces), is one of the best stories that I have read.Maybe because of the fact that we can understand a little bit of human psychology after reading it.In fact, Sigmund Freud, the notable psychoanalyst, interpreted it in his essay The Uncanny.
So what’s good about it? For me, it’s everything.It’s a package.