Analysis

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 395

Kater Murr represents Hoffmann’s fanciful autobiography, intended by virtue of its fantastic and satirical elements no doubt as a romantic counterpart to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Confessions of J.-J. Rousseau (1783-1790), which Kreisler is depicted as having read enthusiastically in early adolescence, and as a contrast to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s somewhat self-glorifying autobiography Dichtung und Wahrheit (3 vols., 1811-1814; The Autobiography of Goethe, 1824), published only several years before the first volume of Kater Murr. Unlike Rousseau and Goethe, Hoffmann makes his confession through veiled, ironic, humorous depiction. He takes his pet tomcat as the vehicle for portraying the more prosaic aspects of his life experiences and his realistic existence as a writer. To depict his other life as a romantic dreamer, he uses as poetic alter ego the musician Johannes Kreisler, whom he had created earlier in contributions to the leading music periodical Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung. He confesses a third self-image in the figure Master Abraham, that of the older, married man as a romantic dreamer vicariously reliving the transcendent yearnings of his younger years.

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Hoffmann was forty-three years old when the first volume of Kater Murr appeared, some dozen years older than its romantic hero Kreisler, who is thirtyish, the age at which Hoffmann first met the Julia—his voice pupil Julia Marc—who became the object of a rather romantic passion over which Hoffmann felt some guilt and embarrassment. Unlike Kreisler, Hoffmann was already a married man.

Given that Kater Murr is an...

(The entire section contains 395 words.)

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Critical Context