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.
Heinrich von Kleist, born in 1777, came of an old Prussian military family, but disliked military life and resigned his commission in 1799 to devote himself to studious pursuits. He turned to creative writing in 1801, and during the next ten years created some of the most remarkable plays in German literature. Kleist had an unstable and almost schizophrenic personality and his works relect his passionately uncompromising nature and his periodic fits of wild enthusiasm and morose melancholia. He committed suicide in 1811. David Luke is an Emeritus Fellow of Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Tutor in German until 1988. He has published articles and essays on German literature. His translation of Faust Part One was awarded the European Poetry Translation Prize in 1989. Nigel Reeves was Alexander von Humbolt Fellow at the University of Tubingen and from 1975 to 1990 was Professor of German at the University of Surrey. He is currently Professor of German at Aston University.
"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"