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References to ‘The Sandman’ Date Back to 1816 and German Gothic Horror

August 6, 2022

As Netflix’s new series continues to expand around the world, the earliest references to The Sandman in folklore actually date back to 1816.

If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman, you’ll know he’s one of the best world-building and lore-building authors in the world.

Yesterday, August 5, Netflix finally released its live-action adaptation of one of Gaiman’s most beloved series, The Sandman.

As millions of viewers from all corners of the kingdom tune in to The Sandman, many may not realize the legendary character has deep roots in European mythology and folklore – dating back to 1816 and Gothic horror. German.

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The Sandman | Official trailer | netflix

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Who is The Sandman in the new Netflix series?

Netflix just released their 10-episode live-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series and if you haven’t watched the show yet, here’s a quick rundown of who this character is.

The Sandman (played by Tom Sturridge) is the ruler of dreams and the realm of nightmares, a powerful and omnipotent being of enormous power, also known as Lord Morpheus or more simply “Dream”. He is one of the Seven Endless Beings, manifestations of great abilities including Fate, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction – each who rules his own realm.

He has three tools which are used to maintain and develop his power; a helmet, a leather bag filled with magical sand, and a ruby, known as the Dreamstone. While the new Netflix series is indeed fantastic, author Neil Gaiman didn’t actually come up with the concept of The Sandman as he’s been a character in European folklore and mythology for centuries – see below.

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The first reference to The Sandman dates back to 1816

The Sandman is a well-known figure in European folklore and mythology, who puts people to sleep by pouring magical sand into their eyes while encouraging them to have sweet dreams.

The first reference to The Sandman in literature dates back to 1816 and a short story by German author ETA Hoffman titled Der Sandmann.

In the story, The Sandman is known as a legendary creature who steals the eyes of children who refuse to go to bed, so he can feed them to his own children who live on the moon.

Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776 – 1822) was a German romantic author of fantasy and gothic horror, scholar of modern law, composer, music critic and artist.

Interestingly, you might know Hoffmann from his most famous novel, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which would be the basis for Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker.

The legend of The Sandman would then be reinforced a few decades later in 1841 when Hans Christian Andersen released his folk tale called Ole Lukøje.

In this story, The Sandman puts children to sleep using his magical sand, then shows them happy dreams or nightmares, depending on whether they have been good or bad.

“One of them is so marvelously beautiful, that no one in the world can imagine anything like it; but the other is equally ugly and dreadful, so that it would be impossible to describe it. – Excerpt from Ole Lukøje, via Wikipedia.

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The sandman in popular culture

The Sandman has featured in countless works of popular culture, from music and literature to television and comic books.

There is a Dutch musical called De sprookjesmusical Klaas Vaak which features the character, which goes by the name Klaas Vaak in the Netherlands, Belgium and South Africa.

The Sandman also featured in an East German stop motion TV show titled Unser-sanDmännchena Canadian television series called Nilus the Sandman and a French television series known as Bonne nuit les petits.

Both Marvel Mystery Comics and DC Comics had The Sandman as characters, with the latter including Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic book series that ultimately served as the basis for Netflix’s recent live-action adaptation.

Mr Sandman is also a well-known 1950s song by The Chordettes, but the character has also featured in music by Roy Orbison, Metallica, The Seekers, Rammstein, Lordi, America, Fall Out Boy and Ed Sheeran.

By Tom Llewellyn – tom.llewellyn@grv.media

References to “The Sandman” date back to 1816 and German gothic horror first appeared on Juicee News.

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