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Overview

“The Sandman,” a short story by German writer E. T. A. Hoffmann about a young man named Nathaniel who is traumatized by a childhood experience, explores themes of mental illness. It was included in Hoffmann’s 1814 story collection Nachtstücke. As a boy, Nathaniel conflates the Sandman, a character in a children’s story, with the regular visits of a family friend to his home. His fascination with the Sandman continues into adulthood, much to the concern of his friends. “The Sandman” served as the inspiration for the 1870 ballet Coppélia as well as Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera The Tales of Hoffmann.

Read the full story summary, an in-depth character analysis of Nathaniel, and descriptions of the main ideas in "The Sandman."

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