Through a close reading the essay deals with some central aspects of the function of the incipit as an epistolary novel of the story Der Sandmann (1816) by E.T. A. Hoffmann. In particular, in the three paragraphs of the essay, the narratological, communicative and metaliterary aspects are analysed. In the first paragraph the originality of the story was highlighted with respect to the tradition of the epistolary novel: the three letters act as an authenticating element. In the second one analyses the pathological communication relations between the actors of the epistolary discourse. The third paragraph focuses on the aesthetic aporias of the protagonist Nathanael, a writer of letters and an aspiring writer.