Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is an ominous image of the dark vision of humanity. A man sleeps, apparently peacefully, even though he is besieged by creatures associated in Spanish folk tradition with mystery and evil. There is an ‘unhomely’ feeling of darkness as the brutes seem to move in closer towards to the man that accomplishes a scary environment in the aquatint (a method of etching that creates a rough sketch). A mysterious creature sits at the center of the frame, staring not at the sleeping figure, but at us, the viewer. Goya forces the viewer to become an active participant in the painting — the monsters of his dreams even threaten us. This creates a blur between the dream and the real world; an obscure boundary between fantasy and reality. As Freud would claim, “we are faced with the reality of something that we have until now considered imaginary.” This negative quality of feeling, filled with dread and horror, repulsion and anxiety, where the supernatural becomes a part of common reality, is one of the uncanny. It is a frightening feeling which leads back to something forgotten and lost. Similar to The Sleep of Reason, there is a sense of ambivalence in what is real in Hoffman’s tale The Sandman. The uncanniness attaches directly to the figure of the Sandman, which a boy believed to be true in his childhood. Hoffman exploits disturbances of the ego that involve regression to times when the ego had not yet clearly set itself off against the world outside and from others. Freud writes that the “uncanny [unheimlich] is something which is secretly familiar [heimlich], which has undergone repression and then returned from it.”
The music of Schubert’s Erlkönig dramatizes Goethe’s haunting poem in an uncann...
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.... It contained works (from 1800s and 1900s) that were dominated by themes of the uncanny, the inexplicable and the incomprehensible from the 1800 1900s. A spokesperson at the exhibition said, “things that are mysterious or inexplicable will always evoke curiosity and interest.”
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828) Etching
Freud, Sigmund, David McLintock, and Hugh Haughton. The Uncanny. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print.
Hoffmann, E. T. A., and Christopher Moncrieff. The Sandman, Surrey. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Kerman, Joseph, and Vivian Kerman. Listen. New York, NY: Worth, 1980. Print.
Gibbs, Christopher H. ""Komm, Geh' Mit Mir": Schubert's Uncanny "Erlkönig"" 19th-Century Music 19.2 (1995): 115-35. Print.
Stein, Deborah. "Schubert's "Erlkönig:" Motivic Parallelism and Motivic Transformation." 19th-Century Music 13.2 (1989): 145-58. Print.