As I told you here, I got this book for free in exchange of an honest review. I read it myself, and yesterday I started to read it to the girls, well, to my oldest since little critter disappeared upstairs, and she was quite enchanted by the story with rich language.
The introduction troubled me a bit. Maurice Sendak writes,
Kent and I were drawn to Clara in different ways. I endowed her with the wisdom and strength I conjure up to endow all my children and then surrounded her with a minefield of problems. Kent saw her as a child older than Hoffmann's seven year old Marie. Together we created a prepubescent twelve year old, all nerves and curiosity devouring the world with her eyes and imagination, just awaking to her first wonderful, fearful, erotic sensations.
But Sendak is talking about the ballet. The book is Ralph Mainheim's translation, which I deem of the highest quality, not because I know German and I have been able to read the original, but because it has richness and elegance, and it transports you to the scenes it paints with language.
As a matter of fact, I do not know if I am very fond of Sendak's picture for this book. The format, a squarish book of 10 inches x 10 inches, and the fact that it is spanking new it is not very appealing to me either. I am spoiled, used to used books with that cozy vintage feel to them. I have looked for a different edition with Mainheim as translator but I do not see any. I am now searching other E.T.A Hoffmann nutcrackers that are good in lenght and qualitative in translation, in a smaller book format too.
We have these two other Nutcrakers, but they are more in the picture book group, the text is shorter but fine too. Though we have a few other books for the holidays and I am always getting a few new titles as I see them for sale, I believe a few excellent books are worth much more than a ton of twaddle.Back to Sendak's illustrated Nutcracker, my verdict would be, still an excellent book.