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I racconti

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,940 ratings  ·  104 reviews
From 'The Marquis of O--', in which a woman is made pregnant without her knowledge, to the vivid and inexplicable suffering portrayed in 'The Earthquake in Chile', his stories are those of a man swimming against the tide of the German Enlightenment, unable to believe in the idealistic humanism of his day, and who sees human nature as irrational, ambiguous and baffling. It ...more
Paperback, 247 pages
Published 2004 by Garzanti (first published 1808)
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Jonathan Scheuer No, it's not a clean book. There is no pornography whatsoever, and the depictions of violence are not extensive or grotesque. However, these stories…moreNo, it's not a clean book. There is no pornography whatsoever, and the depictions of violence are not extensive or grotesque. However, these stories feature protagonists who commit acts of murder, terrorism and rape, while behaving according to strict codes of morality. The reader is forced to reexamine their assumptions about good and evil, right and wrong. It is not for children or those disturbed by moral complexity.(less)
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3.95  · 
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 ·  1,940 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Heinrich von Kleist (1777– 1811) was a true romantic, a literary genius on fire with poetic inspiration all throughout his twenties and early thirties, dedicating himself to writing plays, poems, essays, novellas and short stories before ending his life at age thirty-four via a suicide pact with a beautiful young woman suffering from terminal illness. I dearly love each of these dramatic von Kleist tales, however, for the purposes of my review, I will focus on one story from this Penguin collect
In this volume the editors have all eight of von Kleist's canonical stories: (which leaves me wondering about the uncanonical stories) The Duel, The Earthquake in Chili, The beggarwoman of Lacorno, The Foundling, The Betrothal in Santo Domingo, St Cecilia or the power of Music, Michael Kohlhaas, and The Marquise of O. The last two of which I had read and reviewed previously.

All of this stories were the same and all of them were different. They are the same in striving to drag the reader into ex
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2012
Von Kleist is groszartig. Is it a coincidence that these shocking stories stem from the pen of what was quite likely a manic depressive who eventually committed suicide? There have been numerous studies confirming positive correlation between displays of genius and people with an overactive mental stasis.

What is shocking these days? Are there any wonders left us to marvel at? The only film that shocked me in the last ten years was ‘the Others’: for inverting the Ghost story on its head by a sim
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: put-down-for-now
The Earthquake in Chile sets a standard the other stories maybe don't totally live up to? It also sets the precedent for a sort of narrative insurrection in which the author seems to have it in for his characters in an angry God/terroristic way. The random violence really jumps off these early-1800s pages. The title story started tremendously with sacking of a castle and bashing in of brains but devolved to hysterics. "Michael Kohlhass" kicks total Kafka precursor ass for its first third or so b ...more
Aug 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Francine Prose
I originally gave The Marquise of O - three stars (“I liked it”) but upon reflection I feel I have to round it up to four. There are no clunkers in the collection of Heinrich von Kleist’s short prose work (he was also a poet, playwright, and wrote operas) and the translations are excellent, retaining the robust, Teutonic sentences of the original German without sacrificing readability.

Von Kleist is another one of those fortuitous discoveries that I wish I had made before entering my twilight yea
Some of the stories were interesting, some others made no sense at all, but then Kleist had to go all White Supremacy and I couldn't deal with him anymore.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Separately I've written a review of "Michael Kohlhaas", the principal work in this collection, so I'll pass it by now and comment on some of the other stories and Kleist himself.

Famous for his striking first paragraphs, Kleist begins "The Marquise of O" with the marquise placing an ad in the local paper asking that the man who fathered the child she is carrying to identify himself. The absurdity of this proposition might be something out of Kafka or Beckett or a contemporary writer, but of cours
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading Kleist is an exhilarating experience that can be very unpleasant. I don’t think any stories have ever moved me the way Kleist’s do, but I’m having a hard time describing this effect in words. I’d like to say that his sentences manage to capture the beauty and anxiety of a single moment, but that makes absolutely no sense. Maybe I can get to it by thinking about something else.
Do expectations ruin our experience of the future, or do they help us tolerate it? The answer is both. Moreover,
Having already read Michael Kohlhaas, The Duel and The Marquise of O, I skipped straight to these:

The Earthquake in Chile - an eartquate taken place on the eve of an execution of an unmarried woman with a child (2 stars)

The Beggarwoman of Locarno - a ghost terrifies the count's castle (3 stars)

St Cecilia or The Power of Music - a mother is searching for her four sons only to find them in a madhouse (2 stars)

The Betrothal in Santo Domingo - a slave revolt unleashes havoc on the former masters; th
Where this not German literature I would say this book very much falls into the Gothic category. The stories were full of evil catholics, unwed mothers and unspeakable activities by the church. The style (in translation) seems half way between a William Morris style re-creation of medivael stories and the gothic novels of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the short stories are a little odd in places, the timing seemed strange, stories seemed to end abruptly or go on too long in places. Michae ...more
Not much to enjoy here. The longest story, Michael Kohlhaas, is essentially a boring shaggy dog story about a legal dispute involving horses... snooze....

Apparently, Franz Kafka liked von Kleist's work, which is probably why penguin bothered to publish this collection.

On the other hand, if you're a fan of German literature, I'm sure von Kleist will hold your interest.
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 app
Quinn Slobodian
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like workers who bring the factory to a standstill by following every rule, Kleist's heroes stick so stubbornly to some kind of code, whether positive--of law, love, filial piety--or negative--of dogma, self-love, filial disgust--that they bring structures down around them. The outcomes of his stories are always perverse. Through the characters' belief in the law, they become outlaws, through the ferocity of their love, they sacrifice those they love, through the depth of their faith, they submi ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
at their best these stories remind me of Poe and Kafka

not all of them are that good, unfortunately. Still worth a read, especially michael kolhaus and the power of music
Francine Prose raved about The Marquise of O in Reading Like a Writer and I was on the hunt for a copy for months, until I finally found a weathered paperback in a Southern Pines, NC, book store. These stories are unlike any I have ever read. They are suspenseful and simultaneously understated. He'll leave your mind reeling.
Nick Kinsella
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My block was recently bestowed with one of those "little free libraries" by some kind hearted soul. For the uninitiated, a little free library is a tiny shed- like house someone makes that you can put books in, with the idea becoming"take a book, leave a book". I recently walked over to see what I could find and found this book in there.

No doubt an unwanted item from someone's obscure college literature class, the Penguin Classics cover caught my eye and I decided to give it a look. The descrip
I've never been too big into romanticism, but (my boy forever) Gilles Deleuze was a big Kleist fan. And there's definitely a reward here. Some of it is really boring-- and I don't give a fuck about threatened female virtue-- but the seeping horror and absurdity of some of the stories is remarkably prescient, with tocuhes of Kafka, Camus, Brautigan, and others appearing to the modern reader. "The Earthquake in Chile" is especially powerful.
M. Sarki
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this story as well as many others. A master storyteller of immense integrity.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dan by: Stanton de v. H.
Shelves: short-fictions
Representing events that can be explained equally well as natural or as supernatural, some of Kleist’s stories are instances of fantastic literature. Moreover, while Kleist’s employment of the uncanny and the unexpected may reflect a Romantic interest in gothic conventions, it can be argued that in these stories he was not so much attempting to exploit the sensationalism of such devices as bizarre coincidences and pathological obsession (as writers like Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft would l ...more
Stephen Bird
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for the first time about 10 years ago; I remember having liked it, but not much else about it. However, Heinrich von Kleist's "The Marquise of O and Other Stories" impressed me enough for me to hold onto my paperback copy. Now having read this collection for the second time, I found all of these stories to be engaging and absorbing; consequentially, I have such renewed respect for this author -- Particularly for the compelling characters that people his work. Regarding Kleist's ...more
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Guys. Guys. I have a confession.
I think I suck at pre-20th century literature.

Once upon a time, not that very long ago, in an ivory tower, I got it. You know? GOT. IT. Could whip you out an essay about an obscure Elizabethan play, no problem. Could participate in class discussions about religion and, you know, religion, because apparently that's all anyone ever wrote about before 1900.

Context is everything. While reading these "short" stories, I tried to put myself in the time period (brutal inf
May 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hesper calls this something along the lines of a German anti-Enlightenment smackdown, and I'm not sure what that means but it's definitely awesome.

I've only read the title story so far. I'll put this in spoilers but it's always pretty clear what's happened: (view spoiler)
Susan Mills
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Written in 1806, and therefore in a style less familiar to the contemporary reader, I found The Marquise of O- (I didn't read the other stories) a breath of fresh air. The first paragraph is, famously, wonderful, containing a wealth of information about character, plot and tone, which are played out in the rest of the book. The author clearly pays close attention to every word he writes. I couldn't put it down.
Czarny Pies
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
Everyone should read this dazzling set of stories. I agree wholeheartedly with Germaine de Stael who argued that from 1780 to 1820, Germany's literature was the foremost in the world. Unfortunately the greatest works were either poems or versified drama. Kleist's stories then offer one of the best introductions to someone wishing to learn more about German Romanticism as translations of prose are always more successful than translations of verse.

Dylan Alford
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plots in the stories are really complicated, and involve coincidences...kind of like Cohen brothers movies, and the characters are usually doomed. Kleist spends a lot of time giving concrete examples explaining what makes a character act a certain way...lots of back history. There's a subtle, morbid humor...the narrative is a little awkward because of translation issues, but the prose is very easy to understand.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Actually, I've read only the novella "Michael Kohlhaas," about a landowner who pursues justice to get restitution from nobleman who mistreated some of his horses. In the process, he ends up fomenting a violent rebellion that wreaks havoc across the land, pulling in Martin Luther to mediate. It becomes unpredictably and weirdly fantastical towards the end, but still a great work for exploring questions of ends justifying means in the name of justice. The model for Doctorow's Ragtime.
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
An indispensible book for people who like good writing. These stories are rollercoaster rides from the moment you start reading to the breathless ending. It stunned me that I could be so captured by writing from nearly 200 years ago! When I think of classics, I think of Dickens and other such dusty tomes that require significant effort to wade through! This Author recalibrated my sense of good writing.
This rating is a compromise. The Marquise of O is one of those stories that, despite one's effort to suspend modern sensibilities, is horrible and incomprehensible -I hated it and found its assumptions upsetting. The Earthquake in Chile, on the other hand, is horrible and completely comprehensible - it shows both the highs and the lows of how people behave in the face of catastrophe.
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
read it for Michael Kohlhaas alone: the ultimate terrorist? the ultimate badass? the ultimate proof of the futility of bureaucracy. A story of natural law, human law, alienation and reconciliation.

the rest of the stories are okay, but Kolhaas remains my hero forever

Terry Tsurugi
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite story in here was "The Foundling," a really eerie, uncanny tale. I wish some of the stories, like "Michael Kohlhaas" and "The Duel" weren't so bogged down with details and characters though.
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The dramatist, writer, lyricist, and publicist Heinrich von Kleist was born in Frankfurt an der Oder in 1777. Upon his father's early death in 1788 when he was ten, he was sent to the house of the preacher S. Cartel and attended the French Gymnasium. In 1792, Kleist entered the guard regiment in Potsdam and took part in the Rhein campaign against France in 1796. Kleist voluntarily resigned from ar ...more
“In M---, an important town in northern Italy, the widowed Marquise of O---, a lady of unblemished reputation and the mother of several well-brought-up children, inserted the following announcement in the newspapers: that she had, without knowledge of the cause, come to find herself in a certain situation; that she would like the father of the child she was expecting to disclose his identity to her; that she was resolved, out of consideration to her family, to marry him.” 5 likes
“In M…, einer bedeutenden Stadt im oberen Italien, ließ die verwitwete Marquise von O…, eine Dame von vortrefflichem Ruf, und Mutter von mehreren wohlerzogenen Kindern, durch die Zeitungen bekannt machen: daß sie, ohne ihr Wissen, in andre Umstände gekommen sei, daß der Vater zu dem Kinde, das sie gebären würde, sich melden solle; und daß sie, aus Familienrücksichten, entschlossen wäre, ihn zu heiraten.” 1 likes
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