Seeing Things Anew: Hoffmann’s Don Juan: A Fabulous Incident Which Befell a Travelling Enthusiast and Gogol’s The Portrait

  •  Val Scullion    
  •  Marion Treby    


Established criticism argues that the influence of the German fantastic stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) on Nikolai Gogol’s Russian supernatural tales was short-lived. This article disagrees. Gogol (1809-1852) achieved literary success in the late 1830s, when the future course of Russian literature was strongly indebted to late German Romantic literary concepts. We trace the relationship of Hoffmann’s short story Don Juan: a Fabulous Incident which Befell a Travelling Enthusiast with the early and late versions of Gogol’s short story The Portrait, showing that Hoffmannesque elements are stronger in the later publication. Our close analysis uses two critical theories: Shlovsky’s concept of defamiliarisation, or ostranienie (Note 1), and Todorov’s theories of the fantastic, the one being apposite on account of its Russian perspective, and the other because of its insights into Gothic literature. We also support our argument by historical and biographical evidence, with the overarching aim of bringing new critical perspectives to the study of the short fiction of Hoffmann and Gogol.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

Journal Metrics

h-index (July 2022): 26

i10-index (July 2022): 61

Learn more