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The Marquise of O and Other Stories (Penguin…
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The Marquise of O and Other Stories (Penguin Classics) (1956 original; edició 1978)

de Heinrich von Kleist (Autor)

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In The Marquise of O-, a virtuous widow finds herself unaccountably pregnant. And although the baffled Marquise has no idea when this happened, she must prove her innocence to her doubting family and discover whether the perpetrator is an assailant or lover. Michael Kohlhaas depicts an honourable man who feels compelled to violate the law in his search for justice, while other tales explore the singular realm of the uncanny, such as The Beggarwoman of Locarno, in which an old woman's ghost drives a heartless nobleman to madness, and St Cecilia, which portrays four brothers possessed by an uncontrollable religious mania. The stories collected in this volume reflect the preoccupations of Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) with the deceptiveness of human nature and the unpredictability of the physical world.… (més)
Membre:mknapil
Títol:The Marquise of O and Other Stories (Penguin Classics)
Autors:Heinrich von Kleist (Autor)
Informació:Penguin Classics (1978), 320 pages
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The Marquise of O and Other Stories de Heinrich von Kleist (Author) (1956)

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Kleist's tale tells the story of a widowed marquise.

It begins with a very unusual newspaper advertisement in which "a lady of excellent reputation [...] let it be known that, without her knowledge, she had come into other circumstances, that her father [...] should report;" and that she [...] would be determined to marry him. "

Then it is told in retrospect how this situation came about: The citadel near M ..., of which the marquise's father is in command, is stormed by Russian troops. The marquise, who moved to live with her family after the death of her husband, falls into the hands of Russian soldiers and is mistreated, but "rescued" by a Russian officer. The supposed savior later turns out to be the rapist of the Marquise.

Be it because she knows what's going to happen, be it because of the shock - the marquise faints and doesn't remember the rape afterwards. Later in the text (quote: “I don't want to know anything.”) The reader realizes that the injured party is trying to suppress the truth. In her memories, Count F ... is only the "noble savior".

After the family-owned citadel was stormed and subsequently seized by a Russian commander, the residents of the fortress had to move to a house in the city. Although the family is doing well considering the current circumstances, the otherwise perfectly healthy Marquise suffers from an inexplicable malaise.

Since the family knows nothing about the rape of the marquise and still feels in the guilt of the count, they are very upset when they learn that he was shot in combat on the day of departure.

But contrary to the reports, the count survives seriously injured. After his healing, he returned to the commandant's family and asked for the marquise's hand with a passionate declaration of love. The members of her family are not averse to the Count, but ask for a period to think so that they and the Marquise can get to know the Count better. However, since the count is being called away by important orders, the request cannot be granted.

The marquise found out about her pregnancy when she was examined by a doctor and a midwife for her chronic malaise. The marquise cannot explain this pregnancy because the rape has disappeared from her mind. Her father attributes the pregnancy to "immoral behavior" and throws her out of the house. He no longer wants his grandchildren to be in the care of the marquise, so he has his son, the forest master of G ..., snatch them away from her. This angered the marquise and deepened the rift between her and her father. With a heavy heart, the marquise leaves the apartment with her children and moves back into her old house. She publishes an advertisement in the newspapers in which she announces that she ignorantly became pregnant and that the child's father should contact her. For “family reasons” she would be determined to marry the child's father.

Meanwhile, Count F ... is returning from Naples. He learns what has happened and that the marquise is no longer in her father's house. The count is determined to propose to her again. The marquise is surprised and is anything but enthusiastic about the proposal. She rejects the count in an extremely harsh manner.

In the meantime, the commandant's wife, who is also called the Colonel in the work, rebukes her husband for his brutal behavior. In the meantime another advertisement has appeared in which the alleged father of the child announces that he will throw himself at the feet of the marquise in her father's house. The Colonel now asks herself whether the marquise might have been raped while she was sleeping and decides on a ruse.

She drives to the marquise and tells her that she knows the father of the unborn child and that it is the hunter Leopardo. When the Colonel realizes from the marquise's reaction that she actually doesn't know anything, she is convinced of her innocence. In tears she apologizes to the marquise and takes her back to town. After the colonel had reported everything to the commandant, he also apologized tearfully to the marquise and took her back.

In the Colonel's house one waits with extreme excitement for the father of the unborn child to appear. But the one who arrives is Count F ... Confused, the marquise wants to retreat to her apartment, but is held back by her mother. Indeed, the earl who shows sincere repentance is the one sought. The pregnant woman withdraws howling and screaming and, unlike her parents, is not ready to forgive the Count for his deed, as she has always viewed him as her savior.

Her parents interpret this reaction as a temporary overstimulation of their nerves and arrange everything for the upcoming marriage. A marriage contract is drawn up in which the count, as a husband, waives all rights, but declares himself ready to fulfill all of such obligations.

After the wedding, the count moves into an apartment nearby, but does not set foot in the colonel's house, where the marquise continues to live. His polite behavior at occasional encounters calms the marquise's family so much that he can attend his son's baptism. Among the gifts that the guests made to his son was a donation of a large sum of money by the count and his will, in which he appointed the marquise as his sole heir.

From this day on he is allowed to go to the Colonel. Soon afterwards the count begins again to woo the marquise. This time she doesn't reject him because she has grown fond of him.

The Marquise von O .... has a dash at a crucial point, which is generally regarded as the most famous dash in German literature. After the Russian count had brought the completely exhausted marquise to safety in front of a group of soldiers, the sentence was written: “Here - when her frightened wives appeared soon afterwards, he made arrangements to call a doctor; assured, putting on his hat, that she would soon recover; and returned to the fight.” Only at the end of the story, when the marquise has given birth to a son to whom the count confesses as father, it turns out that this indent marks the moment the marquise was impregnated by the count marked. The finesse of the narrative is that the dash only reveals the time, not the circumstances, so that the question of how exactly the impregnation came about and whether it was possibly a rape ultimately remains unanswered. Kleist achieved this indeterminacy by avoiding a concrete narrative description of the events with the mere dash.

Heinrich von Kleist describes how war can change a person, as in this case Count F ... who becomes a rapist. Basically, however, he is a moral person, since he sincerely loves the marquise and feels obliged to marry her; but the instincts overcome Count F ... several times in the novella. His real morality takes a back seat in these situations.

The brutality and ruthlessness with which mothers of illegitimate children are treated in society also play a role in Kleist's work. The author pointedly and precisely parodies the brutality of the bourgeois social order and its failure. The family is not the place of retreat where one is loved and accepted, but is subject to strict rules - respect for custom is more important than the needs of the individual. Even the marquise cannot change that. Ultimately, she has to fit in with the order and accept it, even if she doesn't seem to be getting along with it.

In addition to the emancipatory perspective of the novella, a further, anthropological aspect can be seen in the figure of Count F ... Count F ... shows himself to be a moral and conscientious person during and after the conquest of the fortress. The marquise herself says that he appears to her like a saving "angel" - a false image, because the rape of the marquise shows that even the count is not immune to instinct in his morality. This is also evident during his visit to the marquise at her country estate. Here the count takes no account of the marquise's sensitivities and is only anxious to present his request (the application). In doing so, he again physically harasses the marquise, forcing her to tear herself away from him and flee from him. A parallel to the previous rape is unmistakable.

The father, who represents the patriarch and protector, fails in the novella. He cannot save his daughter from being raped. As for the social norm, protection from sexuality, desires, and even unchaste thoughts is an important task that largely rests with the father. However, this is not a role model when it comes to chastity, as he himself maintains a way of dealing with his daughter that is more reminiscent of a love affair.

Its name aptly parodies its pathetic failure. Lorenzo's career “crowned with victory” is doomed when he loses the fortress he was supposed to protect. His private life is also upset when the same thing happens to his daughter. His dismissive reaction to her pregnancy drove his reputation with readers even further. Whether out of jealousy or to protect his family, his actions damage his reputation further.

The behavior of the citizens is very close to the stereotype of the nobility they despise. Because of the numerous marriages of reason and the resulting mistresses, sexuality is relatively unrestrained in its circles. The failed resumption of the marquise in society could, however, be interpreted as a call for more independence for women. ( )
1 vota Marcos_Augusto | Feb 19, 2021 |


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 collection that has remained with me for years: St. Cecilia, or The Power of Music.

A synopsis of the mysterious events at the heart von Kleist’s tale runs as follows: four Protestant brothers from the Netherlands, in the spirit of iconoclasm, plan the destruction of a Catholic nunnery. Weapons in hand and supported by armed followers, they attend mass held in the convent’s cathedral on a day of Corpus Christi.

During the playing of Gloria in excelsis, the four brothers take off their hats, fall to their knees and touch their foreheads reverently to the ground; all four held in a kind of mystical bliss. The effect of the music is so strong the brothers do not emerge from their ecstatic state; rather, they continue to be held in rapture and thus lose their ability to sense and experience the outside world.

They are eventually taken to the city’s madhouse, where, dressed in the hooded robes of monks, they spend their remaining years in unbroken sublime devotion, sitting around a crucifix positioned on a small table, interrupted only at midnight when they rise to sing Gloria in excelsis. The four brothers live to be very old men, dying in peace and joy.

I have a deep, personal connection with this story I first read when a college student in my twenties, the age of the four brothers at the beginning of the tale. At that time I had one of the most powerful experiences of my life – a vivid dream where I was held in ecstasy by music from angelic trumpets while beholding a glorious vision of heaven. Of course, my experience was much different than the four brothers since my being held in ecstasy lasted minutes not years. But our respective experiences touch on two important points: 1) the brothers and I are not of the Catholic faith, and 2) the unmistakable power of music.

On the topic of music’s power, here is a quote from the nineteenth century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, “The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain. Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”

Schopenhauer judges music to be the highest of the arts since it expresses the very core of life. And it is no accident the world’s mystical traditions emphasize the importance of music. Ironically, Schopenhauer was an atheist, however his view of music has much in common with many religious philosophers, theologians and mystics, a common ground speaking volumes about how our experience of music can transcend the differences created by various religions and theologies.

But the phenomenon of the four brothers differs sharply from the traditional religious/spiritual/mystical life in one critical way: the mystical experience of the brothers was so powerful that all four were held in its grip every moment for the rest of their lives; indeed, since they were never released, in a very real sense, their blissful devotion was not a matter of their own choosing. This difference cannot be overemphasized.

John Cassian writes about the Abbas and hermits who, following the example of Anthony of the Desert, retreated to the wilderness to live in silence and solitude, devoting themselves to communing with God. Cassian relates the numerous unending challenges these hermits faced, including the noonday demon – depression. But none of the noonday demon nor any of the many other challenges on the spiritual path for the tale’s four brothers.

The second quality of the brothers’ experience worth noting is its communal nature. If such a profound, life-transforming experience happened to one man, well, that could possibly be explained as an individual defect or specific medical crisis. But to have the exact on-the-spot spiritual transformation taking place in four brothers deepens the mystery of von Kleist’s story. And, at least for me, makes this tale unforgettable.


“The kiss and the bite are such close cousins that in the heat of love they are too readily confounded.”
― Heinrich von Kleist ( )
1 vota Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
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 vota 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 vota 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 |
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Kleist, Heinrich vonAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
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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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In The Marquise of O-, a virtuous widow finds herself unaccountably pregnant. And although the baffled Marquise has no idea when this happened, she must prove her innocence to her doubting family and discover whether the perpetrator is an assailant or lover. Michael Kohlhaas depicts an honourable man who feels compelled to violate the law in his search for justice, while other tales explore the singular realm of the uncanny, such as The Beggarwoman of Locarno, in which an old woman's ghost drives a heartless nobleman to madness, and St Cecilia, which portrays four brothers possessed by an uncontrollable religious mania. The stories collected in this volume reflect the preoccupations of Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) with the deceptiveness of human nature and the unpredictability of the physical world.

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