A Companion to the Works of Heinrich von Kleist

A Companion to the Works of Heinrich von Kleist

Edited by Bernd Fischer

New essays on the most prominent German dramatist and short-story writer of the early 19th century.
For over 150 years, Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) has been one of the most widely read and performed German authors. His status in the literary canon is firmly established, but he has always been one of Germany's most contentiously discussed authors. Today's critical debate on his unique prose narratives and dramas is as heated as ever. Many critics regard Kleist as a lone presager of the aesthetics and philosophies of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century modernism. Yet there can be no question that he responds in his works and letters to the philosophical, aesthetic, and political debates of his time. During the last thirty years, the scholarship on Kleist's work and life has departed from the existentialist wave of the 1950s and early 1960s and opened up new avenues for coming to terms with his unusual talent. The present volume brings together the most important and innovative of these newer scholarly approaches: the essays include critically informed, up-to-date interpretations of Kleist's most-discussed stories and dramas. Other contributions analyze Kleist's literary means and styles and their theoretical underpinnings. They include articles on Kleist's narrative and theatrical technique, poetic and aesthetic theory, philosophical and political thought, and insights from new biographical research.

Contributors: Jeffrey L. Sammons, Jost Hermand, Anthony Stephens, Bianca Theisen, Hinrich C. Seeba, Bernhard Greiner, Helmut J. Schneider, Tim Mehigan, Susanne Zantop, Hilda M. Brown, and Seán Allan.

Bernd Fischer is Professor of German and Head of the Department of German at Ohio State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Heinrich von Kleist's Life and Work - Bernd Fischer
Jupiterists and Alkemists: Amphitryon as an Example of How Kleist's Texts Read Interpreters - Jeffery L. Sammons
Kleist's Penthesilea: Battleground of Gendered Discourses - Jost Hermand
On Structures in Kleist - Anthony Stephens--til 7/03
Strange News: Kleist's Novellas - Bianca Theisen
The Eye of the Beholder: Kleist's Visual Poetics of Knowledge - Hinrich C. Seeba
The Performative Turn of the Beautiful: "Free Play" of Language and the "Unspeakable Person" - Bernhard Greiner
The Facts of Life: Kleist's Challenge to Enlightenment Humanism (Lessing) - Helmut J. Schneider
"Betwixt a false reason and none at all": Kleist, Hume, Kant, and the "Thing in Itself" - Tim Mehigan
Changing Color: Kleist's "Die Verlobung in St. Domingo" and the Discourses of Miscegenation - Susanne Zantop-Deceased
Ripe Moments and False Climaxes: Thematic and Dramatic Configurations of the Theme of Death in Kleist's Works -
"Mein ist die Rache spricht der Herr": Violence and Revenge in the Works of Heinrich von Kleist - Sean Allan


This volume... succeeds in providing insight into the rich complexity of Kleist's writings and ... bears testimony to the continued relevance of his oeuvre today. GERMAN QUARTERLY

This volume is a stimulating study that contains much that will arouse the reader's interest and that promises to pave the way for further exciting probes into Kleist's remarkable contemporary oeuvre. SEMINAR

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