Rethinking the Uncanny in Hoffmann and Tieck

by Marc Falkenberg (Author)
©2005 Monographs 264 Pages


This stimulating new book challenges Freud’s definition of the uncanny, prevalent in the study of Gothic and Romantic fiction, by reviving the importance of uncertainty in the uncanny. Literary criticism views the uncanny as an expression of the return of the repressed. Falkenberg’s expanded definition includes, but is not limited to, the psychoanalytic and instead redefines the uncanny as a cognitive and aesthetic phenomenon.
Beyond offering a survey of what David Punter has called «The Theory of the Uncanny», this study places the uncanny in the context of the poetological and philosophical background of the Romantic period. In close readings of two stories that have stood at the center of the debate about the uncanny – E.T.A. Hoffmann’s «Sandman» and Ludwig Tieck’s «Blond Eckbert» – the author shows how these texts are constructed as uncanny phenomena in themselves. The study traces fairytale elements, framing techniques, and interdependencies between the fictional productions of the protagonists and their «dark fates» to expose how these texts confront the reader with paradoxical decoding instructions.
This expanded and revised uncanny not only yields new readings of two classic German short stories, it also leads to a better understanding of the cultural soil that nourished the Romantic Movement.


ISBN (Softcover)
Hoffmann, Ernst T. A. Der Sandmann Freud Uncanniness /Indifferent Fate Paranoiac Structure Uncanny Romantic movement fairy tale element Das Unheimliche aesthetic phenomenon
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2005. 264 pp.

Biographical notes

Marc Falkenberg (Author)

The Author: Marc Falkenberg was born in Germany and studied history and literature at Trinity College Dublin and the Universities of Konstanz, Berlin, and Chicago. He received his doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Chicago in 2001. He currently teaches German and English in the International Baccalaureate programme at Chicago’s Lincoln Park High School.


Title: Rethinking the Uncanny in Hoffmann and Tieck