Hoffman was a follower of Cervantes and Sterne, a pioneering 'magic realist', fascinated by Gothic horror, extreme mental states and supernatural events occuring within sharply rendered social settings. A talented composer and painter, he portrayed himself in the guise of Johannes Kreisler - the hypochondriac, antisocial and moody but brilliant musician. In this astonishing book, a vain and very bourgeois tomcat sets out to write his memoirs, using a biography of Kreisler as a blotting pad. By a printer's error, the two lives get spliced together into a bizarre double narrative. A supreme example of literary bravado, this is also shot through with the warmth, humanity, and almost uncanny ability to captivate his readers which make Hoffman the greatest of German story-tellers.