The Shunned Artistic Mind:
An analysis of artistic misunderstanding in E.T.A Hoffman’s Councillor Krespel.

Ill, foolish, mad, stupid, idiotic, senseless and absurd are often some of the names that those who differ from societal norms get called on a daily basis. We often debase those whom we do not understand, especially if they are different from us in a highly recognizable way. In 1819, E.T.A. Hoffman wrote Councillor Krespel, which is the story of a man who is often judged, ridiculed and admired, by those around him, for his abnormal and frequently indecent behavior. Instead of being rewarded for his unique and thought provoking ideals, he is not respected and often only looked at for entertainment. It is often argued by scholars that Krespel is a controlling, manipulative man who strives for total dominance over his daughter. In my interpretation of the novel, I shall argue that Krespel is not a controlling solipsist, but rather a misconceived artist who comes to a redefining self-revelation through the loss of his daughter.
Krespel is often seen as odd because he makes the familiar unfamiliar, he takes things that are socially acceptable and reinvents them in his own fashion. A reader’s introduction to Krespel begins when he starts the job of building a new home for himself, but instead of this home being constructed like a normal home, he makes it to where the doors and windows are in abstract places and the house does not have an organized structure. “The builder, of course, asked to see the plan, and was not a little astonished when Krespel said there was no plan and no occasion for one; everything would go on all right without one”(160). When building a house, there is often a need for a definite plan because there needs to be organization in the creation of a home. Without a specific direction on how to move forward, there will be chaos. Krespel’s clear disregard for order is a way of thinking that an organized mind does not understand, especially in the building of something as complex as a house. It does not mean he is wrong to go about building his house in this manner, but it is conceivable why most would consider him unorthodox because he is tearing down the ideal behavioral constraint that there always needs to be organization and certain ways of doing things, in order to make something, such as a home, beautiful. When someone goes against behavioral constraints, others make an excuse for that persons actions by calling them sick or crazy in order for them to not have to question their own conformed way of thinking, which is why the narrator often considers Krespel “mad” and is never able to see eye to eye with him. His process of remodeling brings many to his door step in fascination, his way of doing this is enjoyment for others to watch, his rash actions come as a surprise to most, and he is their entertainment, in many ways, instead of their equal. “…particularly Krespel\'s liberality, which, by the way, cost him nothing, kept everybody in the best of humor”(161). He was generous and free hearted in his way of building his house and this kept everyone in good standings, but this only meant everyone enjoyed their time watching Krespel do weird things in a joyful manner. Everyone was excited for a finished product but still no one understood the meaning behind any of it, everyone just sees it as Krespel being himself and doing strange, eccentric things. People awe at his house in just the same fashion they awe at him “which prevented over-familiarity” (166). Which is why he invited no one but the workers to his house warming party because they were the only ones who helped in his building of the house instead of just being astounded by his way of creating the unaccepted. Which gives reason to interpret that Krespel, at length, did understand how people thought of him, which is why he did not invite any townspeople to the house-warming because he did not want a room full of people only amused by his creation who would never understand, but rather only the people who had seen the creation through from the