The Sandman

The Sandman Study Guide

The Sandman, written in in 1817, is one of Hoffmann's most well known stories.

Sigmund Freud gave an interpretation of the story in his essay "The Uncanny," written almost 100 years later in 1919. The essay uses the story to help define a literary genre of "the uncanny," using the German words "heimlich" and "unheimlich" which roughly translates to "homelike" and "un-homelike." This homelike-ness and un-homelike-ness mixed is what Freud believes creates the uncanny effect of the story on the reader.

The story has also been adapted and referenced widely. La poupée de Nuremberg, La poupée, and Les contes d'Hoffmann, three operas written in the mid-1800s, are all based in part on the story. Another opera based on the story, also called The Sandman, was written and produced in 2002. In film, a stop-motion animation film, The Sandman, was produced in 1997, and the story will be part of an upcoming Russian animated film called Hoffmaniada. Finally, Neil Gaiman's popular Sandman series of graphic novels feature a character created by Morpheus ("the Sandman") called "the Corinthian," who steals the eyes of his victims.