E. T. A. Hoffmann spoke with the conviction of one who thought to reveal the essence of music. However, the bold and emphatic character of his words masked the subtleties and the variations of his positions. This article examines their nuances from two perspectives. It first examines the literary techniques he used to present his ideas and to give them substance. He presented his ideas in alternately enthusiastic and satirical tones. He used words connotatively, and he dealt different positions to different narrators and characters. Second, the article discusses the course of his career and the cast of his writings. After he received critiques of his high-handed attitudes in the Fantasiestucke (1814) and after he rejoined the Prussian bureaucracy, he changed the tenor if not the foundations of his positions. In its appendix, the article offers the first English translation of the most striking of the critiques: Jean Paul's preface to the Fantasiestucke.

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