The Sandman [...]

"The Sandman" is a short story (Der Sandmann in German) written by E. T. A. Hoffmann in 1816 that draws on the folklore character of the same name who throws sand in children's eyes to make them fall asleep.

Themes in "The Sandman" include eyes, laughter, automatons, and childhood fears.

It is the inspiration for Sigmund Freud's essay "The Uncanny" (PDF) -- "Das Unheimlich." It's also the inspiration for Neil Gaiman's series of graphic novels,  Sandman.

Full text of Hoffmann's story