Heinrich Von Kleist: The Major Works
by Robert Helbling Heinrich von Kleist
Heinrich von Kleist, along with his older contemporaries Goethe and Schiller, was one of the great innovative forces in the early Romantic movement. By the time of his death in 1811 at the age of thirty-four — he made a suicide pact with a woman he barely knew — his modest output of seven complete plays and eight Novellen, or chronicle narratives, together with such critical essays as “About the Marionette Theater,” had profoundly transformed German drama and, indeed, the very scope of European literature. Kleist’s influence has continued strongly to this day, and in recent years such tales as “Michael Kohlhaas,” or masterful plays like The Prince of Homburg, have been viewed as forerunners of the literature of the “grotesque” and “absurd,” or existential, even Kafkaesque statements a century ahead of their time. Yet sadly, Kleist is too little known in this country beyond literary and academic circles, a situation which prompted Professor Robert E. Helbling of The University of Utah to write Heinrich von Kleist: The Major Works, the first comprehensive study of its kind in English. Taking a middle stance between contemporary psychological tendency of German criticism. Helbling’s trenchant insights are aimed at making Kleist more accessible to the student of German literature and the general reader alike. To this end, all his analyses contain synopses of the dramas and Novellen under discussion, while the book begins with a brief biographical sketch. Thoroughly indexed, Helbling’s groundbreaking work also includes notes and an exhaustive bibliography.