3676 In his study of the ‘uncanny’ Jentsch quite rightly lays stress on the obstacle presented by the fact that people vary so very greatly in their sensitivity to this quality of feeling. One cannot walk over it without always having the feeling that water might come up there again." "Oh, we call it ‘unheimlich’; you call it ‘heimlich’. We may suppose that it was his approach, seen through the spy-glass, which threw Nathaniel into his fit of madness. While he lies on the paving-stones with a shattered skull the Sand-Man vanishes in the throng.The writer of the present contribution, indeed, must himself plead guilty to a special obtuseness in the matter, where extreme delicacy of perception would be more in place. Well, what makes you think that there is something secret and untrustworthy about this family? (d) Especially in Silesia: gay, cheerful; also of the weather. Concealed, kept from sight, so that others do not get to know of or about it, withheld from others. behind someone’s back; to steal away heimlich; heimlich meetings and appointments; to look on with heimlich pleasure at someone’s discomfiture; to sigh or weep heimlich; to behave heimlich, as though there was something to conceal; heimlich love-affair, love, sin; heimlich places (which good manners oblige us to conceal) (1 Sam. As the onlookers prepare to go up and overpower the madman, Coppelius laughs and says: ‘Wait a bit; he’ll come down of himself.’ Nathaniel suddenly stands still, catches sight of Coppelius, and with a wild shriek ‘Yes! 3683 This short summary leaves no doubt, I think, that the feeling of something uncanny is directly attached to the figure of the Sand-Man, that is, to the idea of being robbed of one’s eyes, and that Jentsch’s point of an intellectual uncertainty has nothing to do with the effect.
Those who decide in favour of the rationalistic interpretation of the Sand-Man will not fail to recognize in the child’s phantasy the persisting influence of his nurse’s story.
The little eavesdropper hears Coppelius call out: ‘Eyes here! After this the boy falls into a deep swoon; and a long illness brings his experience to an end.
3681 Although little Nathaniel was sensible and old enough not to credit the figure of the Sand-Man with such gruesome attributes, yet the dread of him became fixed in his heart.
They sit up there in their nest, and their beaks are hooked like owls’ beaks, and they use them to peck up naughty boys’ and girls’ eyes with.’ ¹ Hoffmann’s Sämtliche Werke, Grisebach Edition, 3.
It is long since he has experienced or heard of anything which has given him an uncanny impression, and he must start by translating himself into that state of feeling, by awakening in himself the possibility of experiencing it. Uncertainty whether an object is living or inanimate, which admittedly applied to the doll Olympia, is quite irrelevant in connection with this other, more striking instance of uncanniness.
Still, such difficulties make themselves powerfully felt in many other branches of aesthetics; we need not on that account despair of finding instances in which the quality in question will be unhesitatingly recognized by most people. Either we can find out what meaning has come to be attached to the word ‘uncanny’ in the course of its history; or we can collect all those properties of persons, things, sense-impressions, experiences and situations which arouse in us the feeling of uncanniness, and then infer the unknown nature of the uncanny from what all these examples have in common. It is true that the writer creates a kind of uncertainty in us in the beginning by not letting us know, no doubt purposely, whether he is taking us into the real world or into a purely fantastic one of his own creation.
But it does occasionally happen that he has to interest himself in some particular province of that subject; and this province usually proves to be a rather remote one, and one which has been neglected in the specialist literature of aesthetics. Sanders tells us nothing concerning a possible genetic connection between these two meanings of heimlich. 3682 Nathaniel, now a student, believes that he has recognized this phantom of horror from his childhood in an itinerant optician, an Italian called Giuseppe Coppola, who at his university town, offers him weather-glasses for sale. ’ The student’s terror is allayed when he finds that the proffered eyes are only harmless spectacles, and he buys a pocket spy-glass from Coppola.
He works in other strata of mental life and has little to do with the subdued emotional impulses which, inhibited in their aims and dependent on a host of concurrent factors, usually furnish the material for the study of aesthetics. Note especially the negative ‘un-’: eerie, weird, arousing gruesome fear: ‘Seeming quite unheimlich and ghostly to him.’ ‘The unheimlich, fearful hours of night.’ ‘I had already long since felt an unheimlich, even gruesome feeling.’ ‘Now I am beginning to have an unheimlich feeling.’ . 3679 What interests us most in this long extract is to find that among its different shades of meaning the word ‘heimlich’ exhibits one which is identical with its opposite, ‘unheimlich’. ‘Unheimlich’ is customarily used, we are told, as the contrary only of the first signification of heimlich’, and not of the second. 874.) In a slightly different sense: ‘I feel heimlich, well, free from fear.’ . The lawyer Coppelius disappears from the place without leaving a trace behind.
He recognized the visitor as the lawyer Coppelius, a repulsive person whom the children were frightened of when he occasionally came to a meal; and he now identified this Coppelius with the dreaded Sand Man.
876.) ‘On the left bank of the lake there lies a meadow heimlich in the wood.’ (Schiller, Wilhelm Tell, I. He determined to find out what the Sand-Man looked like; and one evening, when the Sand-Man was expected again, he hid in his father’s study.