Cynthia Chalupa


During the nineteenth century, the mirror, revered as an object of fascination for centuries, assumed a distinct role as an icon of bourgeois self-consciousness. Not surprisingly, given its function as a class symbol, the mirror serves as the centerpiece of Hoffmann’s “Story of the Lost Reflection” (1815), which addresses the interplay between the artistic realm and the bourgeois world in aesthetic production. While most interpretations of the story suggest that the liberation of the artist figure’s reflection from the mirror’s surface signifies his surrendered soul and fall from grace, this seemingly uncanny element, in fact, reveals the intricate connection between the fantastic and the everyday that forms the foundation of Hoffmann’s poetics.