This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.
The object of the translators of the following tales was to present the English public with a collection, which should combine effectiveness with variety, and at the same time should contain specimens of the most celebrated writers of prose fiction whom Germany has produced. The names of the authors will, they think, be a sufficient guarantee that they have not failed in this last respect, and if the reader finds himself amused or interested by the series, they will have succeeded entirely. It will be remembered that the collection is a collection of tales only, and that it was absolutely necessary, according to the plan of the book, that these tales should be numerous. Any thing like a lengthened novel was therefore excluded, as it would have exceeded the prescribed limits, or rendered impossible that variety which the translators considered an essential of their work. That short tales, from their very nature, cannot often promote any very high purpose, and that amusement for a leisure hour is their principal purpose, the translators are perfectly aware, admitting that their collection, generally speaking, does not convey that amount of instruction in life and thought, which might be obtained from more elaborate works, such as, for example, the Wilhelm Meister of Gšthe. At the same time they trust that Kleist's Michael Koldhaas, Zschokke's Alamontade, Schiller's Criminal from Lost Honour and even Hauff's fanciful Cold Heart, will be acceptable to those who look for something beyond mere amusement, and that some readers will be found to appreciate the psychological truth and profundity of Hoffmann's tales beneath their fantastic exterior. In their versions of the tales the translators have endeavoured, to the utmost of their power, to be correct, preferring even hardness of language to liberties with the original text. The initials in the table of contents will show who was the translator of each particular tale; but it must not be supposed that they worked so separately that the printer and the binder have alone connected the results of their labours. Every tale when finished by the translator was carefully revised by his colleague. In those instances alone have the translators deviated from the original, where they found passages and phrases that they conceived would not accord with English notions of propriety. That in such instances they have softened or omitted, needs no apology.