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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 393

Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffman (E.T.A. Hoffman) wrote The Life and Opinions of Kater Murr in the early 1800s. The story is satirically written as the autobiography of a cat.

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Master Abraham Liscov: Master Abraham is a multi-talented man who finds himself the owner of Kater Murr. Among other specialties, he is a magician, and many of his adventures are associated with that fact. He works for Fürst Irenäus as his “Master of Pleasures.”

Kater Murr: Our titular character, Kater Murr, is a tomcat who belongs to Master Abraham. He is incredibly smart and able to complete tasks unusual for felines, such as writing and reading. In fact, he wrote his autobiography. He is very confident about both his life and the legacy he expects to leave behind. Sadly, he dies before he is able to complete all the volumes of his memoirs.

Fürst Irenäus: Once a prince, Irenäus has fallen to being merely a rich noble who continues to behave as a prince, treating his home of Sieghartsof as a court.

Johannes Kreisler: He serves as the composer for Irenäus’ court. Master Abraham taught Kreisler piano as a boy, an experience which stuck with him into adulthood. He is in love with Julia Benzon, but is forced to flee the court when he stabs a military officer in self-defense. Master Abraham keeps in touch with Kreisler and ultimately convinces him to return to court, where he sadly learns that Julia is betrothed.

Julia Benzon: She is the daughter of Rätin Benzon, beloved by Johannes Kreisler, and engaged to Prince Ignaz. She is mostly characterized in the novel by the ways in which she belongs to other people.

Rätin Benzon: She is Julia’s mother and was once a lover of Fürst Irenäus. She does not want Julia to marry Johannes Kreisler and acts in opposition, instead forcing her to marry Prince Ignaz.

Prince Ignaz: He is engaged to Julia Benzon and the brother of Princess Hedwiga. He is seen as emotionally immature.

Pricess Hedwiga: She is Fürst Irenäus’s daughter and has had a traumatic life. She was attacked by Leonard Ettlinger, a man who was hopelessly in love with her mother. Princess Hedwiga is uncomfortable with Kreisler because he reminds her of Ettlinger, though they eventually make peace.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 763

Kater Murr

Kater Murr (KAH-tehr mewr), a literary tomcat. After being adopted by Master Abraham, he uses his extraordinary intelligence to learn to read and write. His literary masterpiece is his autobiography, written on the back of discarded leaves that happen to contain Kreisler’s biography. His death brings a premature end to his memoirs after two volumes. In his egotistical view of himself, Murr is a genius. He feels no embarrassment at expecting future generations of cats to idolize him, and he holds nothing back about the follies of his adolescence, including outbreaks of lovesickness and a brief fling at membership in a cat fraternity.

Johannes Kreisler

Johannes Kreisler (yoh-HAHN-nehs KRIZ -lehr), the Kapellmeister (resident composer) of Prince Irenäus’ unofficial court at Sieghartshof. About thirty years old, he has dark hair and eyes that give him a soulful look. Kreisler is an eccentric, extremely changeable person with contradictory emotions: At any moment, extreme melancholy may give way to extreme sarcasm. His character was formed by a childhood made desolate by the deaths, a few years apart, of his mother and aunt, and desertion by his father. Kept out of school by the musician uncle who reared him, he learned from various tutors, the most capricious of whom was his piano teacher, Abraham Liscov. Kreisler pursues music until his late teens, with brief interruptions for a diplomatic career. He has become Kapellmeister to the grand duke...

(The entire section contains 1673 words.)

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Critical Essays