The Marquise of O— and Other Stories

Registered by Vasha of Ithaca, New York USA on 10/23/2010
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Vasha from Ithaca, New York USA on Saturday, October 23, 2010
The only one of these stories I've read is "The Marquise of O". Strange stuff... did Kleist and his readers really believe anyone would (or could) behave like the Marquise does? A disturbing story, because of the depths of ignorance about female sexuality that produced it. And "The Beggarwoman of Locarno", a short fantastic story that never made much impression on me.

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Having now read more stories by Kleist, I radically revise my opinion for the better.

"The Chilean Earthquake" is a grim and bitter story of human intolerance. The society depicted is eager to kill the sinners in its midst; in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, a moment of fellowship, mutual aid, and dissolution of social barriers happens, but hatred quickly reasserts itself.

This story and "Michael Kohlhaas" are good examples of Kleist's extremely skeptical attitude toward his society and government institutions, and moral ambiguity is ever-present. (Even his famous comedy "The Broken Jug" has a definitely dark view, often overlooked because it is a fast and funny play.)

In "Michael Kohlhaas", set in the 16th century, the title character, a horse dealer, is baldly robbed of some horses by a local squire; his complaint to the courts is dismissed without hearing because some court officials are kin to the squire. Kohlhaas is an extremely honorable man and decides that justice must be done, at any price. After further attempts to take his case to high officials fail, he gathers a large band of local people and begins burning manors and towns, describing this as acts of war, not banditry. When challenged by Martin Luther (himself) on what right he has to take up arms against his sovereign, Kohlhaas says that he considers himself to have been expelled from the community of the land because he cannot get justice from the courts -- justice is a foundation of society and whoever is refused it is not part of that community; thus he has been placed in the position of a foreigner and is waging war. (I hope I'm representing this argument correctly). Luther is somewhat impressed by this.

This is half the story; it is already clear that things cannot end very well for Kohlhaas, but will he rescue some victory from it?

It is certainly evident that Kohlhaas is acting out of an extreme sense of rightness rather than personal profit. On the contrary, Kleist's depictions of most of the officials and noblemen involved are decidedly unfavorable. It is a complex story, full of debates about means and ends, different policy suggestions from different people; and moral ambiguity is maintained right up to the end.

This story is both exciting and thought-provoking, and well deserves its classic status.

Journal Entry 2 by 1001-library at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanks so much for your donation Vasha!

This book is now part of the 1001-library. If you want to take this book from the library but don't know how to proceed, please refer to the 1001-library bookshelf.

Journal Entry 3 by wingbooklady331wing at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Friday, April 22, 2011
arrived at my house today. Thank you, Vasha, for the surprise.

Journal Entry 4 by wingbooklady331wing at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Wednesday, May 22, 2024
This book is a collection of 8 short stories. No sure why it is a 1001 book. My rating is probably influenced by the fact that I am not a short story lover.

Journal Entry 5 by wingbooklady331wing at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (6/20/2024 UTC) at Cape Coral, Florida USA

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Enjoy KTM RABCK to Chicvolley99 for Allergic to A release challenge 2024 - author

Journal Entry 6 by Chicvolley99 at Denver, Colorado USA on Monday, June 24, 2024
Received from booklady331. Thank you so much!

Journal Entry 7 by Chicvolley99 at LFL - Humboldt St (1632) #93574 in Denver, Colorado USA on Saturday, July 6, 2024

Released 2 wks ago (7/6/2024 UTC) at LFL - Humboldt St (1632) #93574 in Denver, Colorado USA

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Released at the Little Free Library on Humboldt. Please enjoy!

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