Monday, December 19, 2016

Unsung Literary Hero of Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

I have begun my holiday vacation, so I'll keep this post short. I'm taking this opportunity to let my brain rest so I can write all the better in the new year.

So, I want to ask you, faithful readers, if you know this man:

This is E.T.A. Hoffmann. Know the name? If not, don't be ashamed. A lot of people don't; I wouldn't have if I didn't study this guy in college. But we owe this guy for one of the most iconic traditions of our modern Christmas.

The Nutcracker.

E.T.A. Hoffmann was a Prussian Romantic writer. He wrote the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King in 1816. It was adapted into a ballet by the famous composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky  and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov and premiered on December 18, 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

We know the ballet today, and it's performed by many ballet troupes across the world every Christmas. We know the movie adaptations, and the references in other holiday works. But it all started with E.T.A. Hoffmann's novella.

The story itself is darker and more fairy tale-like than even the ballet. It answers questions about the prince and how this whole story is set up before Marie (or Clara, in the ballet) even gets the nutcracker doll. Here's a link to the whole story, if you'd like to read it for yourselves:

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann

So, this holiday, I just wanted to pay homage to one of the great names of Christmas tradition, who may often be overlooked. E.T.A. Hoffmann, we raise our mugs of cocoa to you.

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