Wednesdays are wunderbar – Kleist Novellas Giveaway

As Lizzy already announced last week, you should get used to our “Wednesdays are wunderbar” series that will take place on a fairly regular basis until the end of November. They are an integral part of our German Literature Month in November.

This week’s giveaway has been kindly provided by Melville House Press. We have two of Heinrich von Kleist’s novellas to give away, The Duel (aka Der Zweikapmpf) and Michael Kholhaas (Michael Kohlhaas deutsch).

Heinrich von Kleist died 200 years ago, on November 21 1811. Kleist was 34 years old when he died or – to be more precise – killed himself together with his friend, Henriette Vogel. As much as we appreciate his work now, that was not the case during his life. He got little recognition at the time. His plays and novellas that are considered to be among the finest in German literature had to wait until the 20th century to be discovered and treasured.

Like Jean Paul, or the equally tragic Friedrich Hölderlin, Kleist didn’t belong to any specific movement. He was neither a classic nor a romantic, but somewhere in between and quite unique. He certainly was a troubled man who was too sensitive for his time. Not being understood and the fear of losing his livelihood made matters worse.

He may be more famous for his plays but he has written some extremely impressive novellas. The stories are often violent and somewhat stretching believability but the accuracy of the descriptions and his use of language are what make him one of the very great German writers. He has a voice entirely his own.

Below you can see the two novellas we are giving away. As I haven’t read these two, I added the blurbs.

Based on actual historic events, this thrilling saga of violence and retribution bridged the gap between medieval and modern literature, and speaks so profoundly to the contemporary spirit that it has been the basis of numerous plays, movies, and novels. It has become, in fact, a classic tale: that of the honorable man forced to take the law into his own hands. In this incendiary prototype, a minor tax dispute intensifies explosively, until the eponymous hero finds the forces of an entire kingdom, and even the great Martin Luther, gathered against him.

One of the few novellas written by the master German playwright, The Duel was considered by Thomas Mann and others to be one of the great works of German literature. The story of a virtuous woman slandered by a nobleman, it is a precise study of a subject that fascinated von Kleist: that people are sometimes seemingly punished for their very innocence. This new translation reinvigorates a key work by this revolutionary German writer

If you are interested in reading these two novellas, please leave a comment. The only condition is that you read and review them during the Kleist and Other German Classics week of our German Literature Month in November (week 4).

The giveaway is open internationally, the books will be shipped by the editor. The winner will be announced on Sunday 16 October 20.00 – European – (Zürich) time.