Item description for The Devil's Elixirs by Ian Sumter E.T.A Hoffmann...
The charismatic monk Medardus becomes implicated in a deadly mystery against his will. As he travels towards Rome he wrestles with the enigma of his own identity while pursued by his murderous doppelganger. The monk's only hope for salvation lies with the beautiful Aurelie; but in order to escape the curse which lies over his family, he must evade the sinister powers of the living and the dead. In this lively and disturbing gothic tale, Hoffmann combines elements of the fantastic and the sublime to analyse the seductive ambiguities of art and the deeply divided nature of the human imagination.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.8" Width: 5" Height: 0.8" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 2007
Publisher Grosvenor House Publishing Limited
ISBN 1906210187 ISBN13 9781906210182
Availability 113 units. Availability accurate as of Mar 24, 2017 08:05.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Devil's Elixirs?
Great story, so-so translation Dec 30, 2007
It's great that this novel (only one of two by Hoffmann) is again available to readers of English. The story -- the adventures of an utterly bonkers, casually homicidal monk with a mysterious and somewhat sinister pedigree -- itself is great macabre fun with a hint of satire.
Unfortunately, the translation is not particularly good. At times the prose comes across as clunky and ill-thought-out. In fact, it often reads as if the translator simply typed each sentence into a translation program, e.g. "Karl der Grosse" is translated at one point as "Karl of Grossen" rather than the more accurate name of "Charlemagne."
The Best Translation of Hoffmann in English Sep 17, 2007
It's a shame that only a handful of Hoffmann's work is available in English, and much of what we do have consists of 19th century renderings mired in the mannered, stilted phrasings and irritatingly turgid sentence structure which, in Victorian times proved that an author was "good." Ian Sumter has produced the best book-length edition of Hoffmann in English. His prose is clear, concise, and never muddled, so that the author's oftentimes ambiguous and deceptive scenarios are not confusing, as other translators have made them.
The Devil's Elixirs is some of Hoffmann's best writing. It is a swift-moving , engaging story that boasts many complex psychological themes, and, of course, countless overlapping motifs, double identities, and confusions between reality and the interpretation of reality. It is at once witty and nightmarishly frightening, and easily overshadows the tame and shapeless Tomcat Muir in both style and substance.
A great novel that has been out of print in English for nearly a century. Grab it while it's available.
The Monk with a happier ending Sep 16, 2007
I give this only three stars because as far as Hoffmann goes The Golden Pot and Master Flea were better and tighter novels, in my opinion. However, The Devil's Elixirs makes for a fascinating read.
I had been a great fan of Hoffmann for many years but had never found this book in English - seems to have been out of print for ages.
The story has a real air of mystery and suspense as you have to try and work out what is happening to Medardus and who is committing the crimes.
There are some good comedy moments too - particularly with an insane hairdresser and a drunken Irishman!
Well worth the wait!
An absolute must have in your home library Oct 28, 2001
It is a shame that the book is out of print and extremely hard to find. I read it long time ago in Russian, and cannot wait to find a copy in English. A mindblowing outlook on human excistance and moral dillemas.