NABOKV-L post 0024146, Fri, 3 May 2013 22:19:43 -0700

Kater Murr
Murli-kat'! (to purr in Russian, n'est-ce-pas?)

Well, I don't know if E T A Hoffmann (one n or two?) knew Russian or not, but
his pussy is indeed a learned Tom -- and not unNabokovian, you may agree -
perhaps even a bit Pale Fireish:

The Life And Opinions Of the Tomcat Murr together with a fragmentary Biography
of Kappelmeister Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Waste Paper is a complex
satirical novel by Prussian Romantic-era author E.T.A. Hoffmann. It was first
published in 1819-1821 as Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr nebst
fragmentarischer Biographie des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler in zufälligen
Makulaturblättern, in two volumes. A planned third volume was never
completed.[1] It was Hoffmann's final novel and is considered his masterpiece.
It reflected his concepts of aesthetics, and predated post-modern literary
techniques in its unusual structure. Critic Alex Ross writes of the novel, "If
the phantasmagoric 'Kater Murr' were published tomorrow as the work of a young
Brooklyn hipster, it might be hailed as a tour de force of postmodern
An English translation by Anthea Bell was published in 1999 by Penguin Classics.
From the cover sleeve: "Tomcat Murr is a loveable, self-taught animal who has
written his own autobiography. But a printer's error causes his story to be
accidentally mixed and spliced with a book about the composer Johannes Kreisler.
As the two versions break off and alternate at dramatic moments, two wildly
different characters emerge from the confusion - Murr, the confident scholar,
lover, carouser and brawler, and the moody, hypochondriac genius Kreisler. In
his exuberant and bizarre novel, Hoffmann brilliantly evokes the fantastic, the
ridiculous and the sublime within the humdrum bustle of daily life, making "The
Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr" (1820–22) one of the funniest and
strangest novels of the nineteenth century."
Jeffrey Ford described the novel as a "complex, truly wild fiction" where
Hoffman "pieced together the fragments of his own shattered psyche and commented
on the relationship of art and artists to society."[3]


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