Book Review: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann

If you’ve heard of The Nutcracker at all, it’s probably via Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. Centered around the Christmas Eve of one little child, Clara, the ballet takes on a whirlwind of musical and visual delights in another land of candy and toys.

The original source material by Hoffmann follows pretty much the same story as in the famous ballet. Marie (called Clara in the ballet)’s godfather Drosselmeyer gifts her a beautiful precious nutcracker which her brother accidentally breaks when he tries to get it to crack a nut too big. During the night, she ends up encountering the Mouse King who is battling the toys with the mice. The story that follows is far longer that the one in the play. More characters come into play, such as Madam Mouserinks the Queen of Mice and Princess Pirlipat. Drosselmeyer also has a more expanded backstory, which detracts a little from Marie’s initial story but still retains the fantastical element which is retained throughout the whole story.

The original Hoffmann story is no less delightful than the adapted storyline for the ballet, but it’s easy to understand why the story of Marie does not have the same extent of Holiday legend as otherwise. As we finally wind out of 2014, give the original Nutcracker a try. The complications of the story are well and better suited to adults, but the delights of the world of toys and talking animals will be able to connect to children. On this beautiful high note I hope this will be a beautiful Christmassy end to your 2014.

Have a Happy New Year, one and all, and I hope you enjoyed the last of this year’s book series. See you next year folks!

(And please enjoy this beautiful adaptation of The Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet)

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