Heinrich Von Kleist

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kleist, Heinrich Von


Born Oct. 18, 1777, in Frankfurt an der Oder; died Nov. 21, 1811, in Wansee, near Potsdam. German writer.

In the tragedies The Schroffenstein Family (published in 1803), Robert Guiskard (a fragment was preserved), and Penthesilea (1805–07; published in 1808) and in the drama Käthchen of Heilbronn, or Trial by Fire (1807; published in 1810), Kleist sought to combine elements of verisimilitude with the irrational and pathological in the actions of his protagonists. The comedy The Broken Pitcher (published in 1811) contains elements of social satire.

On the eve of the movement of liberation against Napoleon’s France, Kleist turned to national problems in verse, drama (The Warrior’s Battle, 1808; published in 1821), and the pamphlet (The German Catechism, 1809). At the same time, Kleist remained faithful to the Prussia of the Junkers, whose past he glorified in the drama Prince Friedrich of Homburg (1810; published in 1821). Kleist’s Short Stories (1810–11) are tensely dramatic and avoid any romantic idealization of the characters. The most important of the short stories is “Michael Kohlhaas” (1810).

Kleist’s legacy is the focus of pointed ideological debate. Marxist literary scholarship attempts to elucidate the humanistic tendencies characterizing his best works.


Werke, vols. 1–2. Weimar, 1961.
In Russian translation:
P’esy. Moscow, 1962.
Dramy, Novelly. Moscow, 1969.


Mering, F. “Kleist.” In his book Literaturno-kriticheskie stat’i, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
Berkovskii, N. Ia. “Kleist.” In the book Nemetskaia romanticheskaia povest’, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935.
Heinrich von Kleist. Darmstadt, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
God's Gift: a version of Amphitryon by Heinrich von Kleist. Oldcastle: Gallery Books, 2000.
"'Eine Tragodie von der Brust heruntergehustet:' Darstellung von Katharsis in Kleists Penthesilea." Heinrich von Kleist und die Aufklarung.
To the southwest, on the bank of the Lesser Wannsee between Berlin and Potsdam, we sometimes pay our respects at the grave of Germany's greatest dramatist, Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811), at the spot where, on November 21, 1811, driven by despair, he committed suicide along with his acquaintance Henriette Vogel, who was dying from cancer.
(13.) Heinrich von Kleist, The Marquise of O--, and other stories.
(4) Heinrich von Kleist, "On the Puppet Theater" in An Abyss Deep Enough, trans, and ed., Phillip B.
Desire's Sway: The Plays and Stories of Heinrich von Kleist. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1983.
Heinrich von Kleist's oeuvre is a sustained exploration of the limits of literature's transformative powers.
By contrast, in Wright's last years, the theater featured a more eclectic slate, including Heinrich Von Kleist's "The Broken Jug" and JoAnne Akalaitis' production of Aphra Behn's "The Rover" in '94, for example, or Max Frisch's "The Firebugs" and Wright's adaptation of Kafka's "The Trial" in '95.
One of the first modern poets to treat nature as a principal subject, he was the forerunner of the new poetic attitude toward nature in German literature that culminated in the works of Heinrich von Kleist and the Swiss anatomist and physiologist Albrecht von Haller.
The first rehearsal for Heinrich von Kleist's The Broken Jug at the Guthrie Theater served as a reunion of sorts.