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Von Kleist: Selected Writings [Paperback]

Kleist Heinrich Von
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback, 12 July 1999 --  

Book Description

12 July 1999

This selection contains all Kleist's stories, including the notorious `Marquise von O' and the almost novel-length 'Michael Kohlaas', as well as three of his plays (The Broken Jug, Amphitryon and Prince Friedrich of Homburg) and a selection of anecdotes and letters. Much of Kleist's effect is produced by his highly idiosyncratic and expressive syntax and language. David Constantine's translation brilliantly reproduces his strangeness in English.

Kleist grew up in the optimistic faith of the Enlightenment but moved as a writer into a much less comfortable world. He is both deadly serious and grotesquely comic. In his radical scepticism and longing for love, he reaches beyond his time into ours.

Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (12 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0460879510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0460879514
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 771,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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If ever a literary work was a sleep of reason, bruised by menacing shapes, it is Kleist's. He was one of the first of a line of German writers whose inwardness is so intense it seems to dissolve the weak bonds of his society... Even as order and paternalism struggled to assert themselves in the private and public life of the nineteenth century, Kleist was introducing scenes of mob violence, cannibalism, and less than benevolent fathers... David Constantine, a distinguished poet and Germanist, and a translator of Holderlin, has taken pains to give us a literary Kleist, 'a writer we cannot do without.' ... This book, containing all the stories and three key plays, provides a compelling view of a misfit genius who, in one of his last notes, remarked 'the world is a strange set-up.' --Iain Bamforth, The Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Brilliant new translation of the work of one of Germany's greatest dramatists and poets

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Note: This comedy may well have a basis in a real occurrence; but if so, I have not been able to find out more about it. Read the first page
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit expensive - but not a bad read 15 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this because I was going to a Berlin production of Der zerbrochne Krug and I wanted to read the text in English beforehand. This collection was the only place I could find it - so it was quite an expensive way to get the text. However it served the purpose - and I have read a few of the other plays and stories. I won't say that Kleist is now my fave author but I quirte enjoyed filling a gap in my experience.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good translation and collection 28 July 2012
By Nikto - Published on
Despite an earlier review claiming that some of David Constantine's translations here are "almost incomprehensible", there is much good here. The wonderful stories are handled well, especially "Michael Kohlhaas", and the translator's attempt to translate the plays into English verse does leave him open to the above charge in places, at least in "The Broken Jug", but his work in "Amphitryon" is lively and engaging. I personally enjoyed the rationale offered in his "Note on the Translation" and the results, particularly in the stories, in which he attempts to reproduce the involved syntax of Kleist's original as well as some of its strangeness.

If you are looking for a "smooth read" do not get this volume. Overall, I prefer the translations of Kleist's prose offered here to those of David Luke in the Penguin edition.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably modern, dark and at times very funny 11 Jun 2013
By J. Tarpley - Published on
I was taken by Francine Prose's discussion of Kleist in "Reading Like a Writer" and picked up this edition of Kleist's selected works. This was my first encounter with Kleist. I do not read German and cannot comment on the translation as it relates to the original. However, I found "The Broken Jug" to be laugh-out-loud funny. I was prepared to hate the play on the basis of the names alone (Adam and Eve?), but reading Adam's increasingly desperate judicial improvisations is very pleasurable.

"The Broken Jug" and "The Marquise of O." are two of the best works I've read this year. Kleist is good at sudden twists that make perfect sense of the preceding material when revealed. Some of the short pieces, such as "The Beggarwoman of Locarno," are also interesting and evocative.
3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not von Kleist, the translation! 9 Mar 2011
By DabblerArts - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Heinrich von Kleist was a personal discovery for me last year - I think his stories, novellas, and plays (at least "The Prince of Homburg" and "The Broken Jug" - I haven't read the others) are amazing. "The Earthquake in Chile" has got to be one of the most awful stories written.

These translations are very difficult to read, however. I bought this and ended up having to go to the library for alternate editions - I don't have those books with me right now, and I haven't bought another edition, so I can't recommend which translators to get. This is just a warning. "The Broken Jug" in particular is almost incomprehensible. I suspect the problem is that the translator has translated German idioms too literally, at the expense of naturalness, and even readability.

So, von Kleist, great, great, great! But beware, buyers of this particular translation.
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