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The Marquise of O and Other Stories by…
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The Marquise of O and Other Stories

by Heinrich von Kleist

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Irreligious, perverse, and shocking even to this day. Von Kleist's discontent with the social structures of his time—most especially the church, the law, and the vagaries of community life—makes his tales perhaps more politically rich than his contemporary Hoffmann, although both are equally skillful in plumbing the depths of the human psyche when it comes to matters of love, survival, family, and even gender.

Von Kleist's style is very proto-modernist: his paragraphs run on for pages with no apparent reason for when they begin and when they end; his pacing is subjectively approached rather than objectively obsessed; and he often begins his stories by telling his reader the endings.

Absurdism runs rampant through these pieces. The title story involves a widowed Marquise who takes out an advertisement in the newspaper, searching for the man who apparently—although she has no memory of this—impregnated her. This kind of illogical and paradoxical situation is at the heart of most of von Kleist's work: "The Earthquake in Chile" turns an exiled pair of lovers into heroic figures in an apocalyptic setting ruled by no seeming authority; however, von Kleist seems to suggest that the imposing orders of the church and the law are so pervasive in their hold on mankind that mankind wreaks the same violence if left with no punitive action from high above.

This is also the case in "Michael Kohlhaas" where the protagonist takes the law into his own hands after repeated attempts to bring legal action against a man who is terrorizing the community. This kind of Kafkaesque critique of the law is also carried out to the extreme limits of surrealism, rendering reality as nightmarish in much the same way Kafka would do later. Of the shorter pieces collected here, "The Foundling" is the strongest and seems to speak to the same examination of reality versus fantasy in Hoffmann's "The Sandman." However, it is in the longer tales that von Kleist is able to enlarge his canvas and allow his oddly distorted syntax and phrasing to loop in and out of sense and nonsense most elegantly. ( )
2 vote proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
Irreligious, perverse, and shocking even to this day. Von Kleist's discontent with the social structures of his time—most especially the church, the law, and the vagaries of community life—makes his tales perhaps more politically rich than his contemporary Hoffmann, although both are equally skillful in plumbing the depths of the human psyche when it comes to matters of love, survival, family, and even gender.

Von Kleist's style is very proto-modernist: his paragraphs run on for pages with no apparent reason for when they begin and when they end; his pacing is subjectively approached rather than objectively obsessed; and he often begins his stories by telling his reader the endings.

Absurdism runs rampant through these pieces. The title story involves a widowed Marquise who takes out an advertisement in the newspaper, searching for the man who apparently—although she has no memory of this—impregnated her. This kind of illogical and paradoxical situation is at the heart of most of von Kleist's work: "The Earthquake in Chile" turns an exiled pair of lovers into heroic figures in an apocalyptic setting ruled by no seeming authority; however, von Kleist seems to suggest that the imposing orders of the church and the law are so pervasive in their hold on mankind that mankind wreaks the same violence if left with no punitive action from high above.

This is also the case in "Michael Kohlhaas" where the protagonist takes the law into his own hands after repeated attempts to bring legal action against a man who is terrorizing the community. This kind of Kafkaesque critique of the law is also carried out to the extreme limits of surrealism, rendering reality as nightmarish in much the same way Kafka would do later. Of the shorter pieces collected here, "The Foundling" is the strongest and seems to speak to the same examination of reality versus fantasy in Hoffmann's "The Sandman." However, it is in the longer tales that von Kleist is able to enlarge his canvas and allow his oddly distorted syntax and phrasing to loop in and out of sense and nonsense most elegantly. ( )
2 vote proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
Kleist never really had the chance to become a great, great novelist; this collection shows what might have been had he lived longer, but in each story there is something that doesn't work. In some the idea is not fleshed out, in others, realising that his readers might be growing bored, Kleist inserts elements that are stubbornly incongruous. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Mar 21, 2014 |
I loved this story as well as many others. A master storyteller of immense integrity. ( )
  MSarki | Aug 3, 2013 |
Suggested by Hesper. German anti-Enlightenment smackdown. So that's an interesting point of view.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Heinrich von Kleistprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fonyi, AntoniaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Formosa, FeliuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This work collects the following stories: The earthquake in Chile. -- The Marquise of O -- -- Michael Kohlhaas. -- The beggarwoman of Locarno. -- St. Cecilia or the power of music. -- The betrothal in Santo Domingo. -- The foundling. -- The duel. Please do not combine this work with works that contain a different selection of stories.
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The world of all these stories is an unpredictable one - a world of dislocated causality on which inexplicable factors intrude and in which sanity is poised on the brink of destruction.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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