The Deserted House by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1909)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror March 31, 2015
The subject of this story is the mysterious. Are facts more mysterious than the imagination? Or is the power of the imagination the reality?
Our narrator Theodore is a clairvoyant. Or so his friends believe. Theodore tells of an adventure with the mysterious. Imagine you are walking in old Germany on an avenue lined with aristocratic homes and fashionable shops. Tucked among the rich and gay architectures is a deserted old house. Theodore becomes entranced by this closed up and unoccupied home. He wonders what may be hidden within it. One day, in the upper window he sees the hand of a young woman. Later he hears her mad laughs and scratchy old voice.
Fatal magic. A haunted mirror. A gypsy woman in a red shawl. This is a wonderfully creepy story with counts and countesses, betrayals, and of course, the mysterious.
I discovered author E.T.A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann) when I was researching occult music for my current WIP novel Greylock. Hoffmann is most popularly known as a composer, but he’s written novels and over fifty short stories in horror, fantasy, and the supernatural. His tales are full of magic, occult powers of the subconscious, and psychology. He writes in a rich narrative style that carries vintage storytelling atmospherics. Many know his name as the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was the basis for Tchaikovsky’s ballet.
Read the short story online at UNZ.org at German Mysteries, From The Lock and Key Library by Julian Hawthorne.
Listen to the audio at Librivox, Parts 1 and 2 on Youtube.
Another Hoffman favorite short is The Sandman, featured here at Tales of Terror on July 9, 2013.
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