E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) was a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror as well as a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. His stories were highly influential during the 19th century, and he is one of the major authors of the Romantic movement.
'The Mines of Falun' tells the story of Elis Fröbom, a sailor who returns from the East Indies to Gothenburg in Sweden, only to discover that his mother has died and he is alone in the world. He tells his story to an old miner who befriends him on the quay, and the miner tells him about the magical mines of Falun and urges him to become a miner. Soon after this, he sets out on a journey and constantly sees the mysterious old miner ahead of him, showing him the way, and he realises that he is on the way to Falun.
Once there he is taken into the house of the mine owner, Pehrson Dahlsjö, and falls in love with his lovely daughter, Ulla Dahlsjö. But the ghostly old miner will not permit Elis to be distracted from mining by his love for an earthly woman, and Elis is torn between his love for Ulla and his obsession with the underground world of fires and minerals. It is this obsession, and the pull of the ghost of the miner, which leads to his destruction.
'Gambler's Luck' tells the story of a young German baron who is enjoying a streak of beginner's luck at the gambling tables. As his winnings mount up, the young man is gradually becoming sucked into the addictive habit of gambling. One night a stranger appears at the gambling table and watches the baron intently. The stranger appears night after night, until the baron is infuriated and challenges the man. A later chance meeting between the two results in the stranger relating a most unusual and gripping tale...
'The Cremona Violin' is the story of Councillor Krespel, an eccentric violin maker who lives with a mysterious woman, Antonia, who has the most beautiful singing voice ever heard by anyone in the town, but she was only ever heard to sing once. Krespel makes the best violins in the world but never sells any and plays each violin only once. There is a strange secret behind this odd behaviour...but it is only years later that the strange truth comes out.