Hi everyone! 🙂 I’m back with another Christmas Review, this time of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann. It’s such a classic and I’ve always felt so happy just thinking about it. ❤
If you decide to read it I would highly suggest Tchaikovsky’s soundtrack playing in the background. It really completes the whole experience and you can easily find it on YouTube!
It’s Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum household. Seven-year-old Marie and her brother Fritz eagerly await the arrival of their Godfather, Drosselheimer, and whichever gifts he may bring them this time. Yet it’s the little Nutcracker by the corner that ends up taking her on a marvelous journey…
This was such a sweet short story! I love these old-timey tales as they always feel so magical, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was no exception. Yet I was also surprised by how dark it could be, especially for a children’s story. Which I shouldn’t have been, considering Hoffmann is known to be a horror/fantasy big-shot and I’d previously read his other piece “The Sandman” (very, very creepy).
This is the perfect Christmas story, not only because it takes place during Christmastime but also because it brings out the childish wonder and imagination inside each of us – much like this time of year. Everyone is familiar with The Nutcracker in one way or another, seeing as it’s been so wildly adapted. So it’s quite the comforting tale to read curled up by the fire late at night.
Like I said, though, it can get a bit morbid, which didn’t bother me but I really wouldn’t recommend it to little kids. The villains were actually quite scary and Dosselheimer’s stories, specially, were not all that cheerful either. I believe Alexandre Dumas’s version is a bit tamer and nearly identical to the original, but I guess any Brothers Grimm fan would be more than fine with this.
I really enjoyed Hoffmann’s writing. It was so lively and enthusiastic, and again had that old-timey feeling to it that I love (it was written in 1816, after all). It was descriptive enough without being tedious, and even if it took a while to get used to the dialogues in particular, which could get incredibly formal, it was well worth it. Plus, his ability to come up with such fantastical ideas, all the while keeping the reader perpetually confused as to whether what is happening is reality or not, was just brilliant.
The characters felt very realistic, especially because most of them were a bit unlikable. Marie was such a lovely protagonist, though, and I really liked seeing everything through her eyes. The fact that she’s not called Clara in this original version, however, threw me a bit off-guard.
My only complaint was that some things didn’t make much sense to me and it felt like I was missing some passages at times. Maybe a case of being lost in translation? Who knows. I also wish Marie had been a more active participant in the story.
Overall, this was a really enchanting read and I just felt like going on adventures or start dancing while reading it. Plus, having Tchaikovsky’s amazing soundtrack playing along really made everything come together.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time!