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.

37 thoughts on “Wednesdays are wunderbar – Kleist Novellas Giveaway

  1. I’ve read both of these and they really are quite wonderful: entertaining and amazingly relevant to today.

    I reviewed Michael Kohlhaas here:

    My review of The Duel will follow during Kleist week. It may be only 57 pages long but there’s an awful lot to say about it.

    The books are part of the Melville House Art of the Novella Series: classy and wonderful objects in their own right. I’m busy collecting the series ….


    P.S Don’t consider this comment as an entry.

  2. Pingback: Wednesdays are wunderbar: Heinrich von Kleist giveaway « Lizzy’s Literary Life

  3. I have all of Kleist’s shorter prose in Kindle form, so I’ll be trying to squeeze one in if possible (although my schedule is already bursting at the seams!).

  4. I’m up for this giveaway – I love Kleist and it’s been years since I read any. Alas, back then I could do it in German, but I’ve forgotten too much vocab now! (oddly enough, can recall much of the grammar – clearly the structures stick.)

    • I think the German grammar is what makes it a challenging language to learn. The structure of the sentences. I’m sure you would get back into it easily but maybe not with Kleist.

  5. Hi Caroline
    I have popped over from reading Lizzy’s blog and would love to try these as I have only ever read one German book! (Comedy in a Minor Key). Many thanks

  6. Please consider me for the giveaway. I’ve read a couple from the Melville House’s Art of the Novella series and enjoyed them. However, in case I was lucky to get them, I’m not sure if the books will arrive in time for me to read and review them in Week 4. I live halfway around the world and the mail usually arrives late.

    • I think it is a wonderful series and they have a lot of great choices.
      I have no idea how long it would take to be shipped to you from the US but that does not exclude you.

  7. Thanks for the giveaway! I’ve really been wanting to read some of Kleist’s works, but my only household copies of Kleist are my parents and are in German (which is great, but only if you can read German, and I can’t).

  8. Thanks for hosting this giveaway, Caroline! Please consider me for the giveaway. I haven’t read a von Kleist novella before and so it will be wonderful to start now. Both ‘Michael Kohlhaas’ and ‘The Duel’ have interesting plots. I have read two other stories called ‘The Duel’ – one by Giacomo Casanova and another by Georgette Heyer and they are both quite different and von Kleist’s book seems to be quite different when compared to them.

    • Gald you are interested in the books.
      I have read three or four of his novellas, I think, just not these two but I have never heard anyone mention that the one or the other wasn’t good.
      Melville House issued five different books called The Duel. One is Kleist, the other Casanova, Conrad and two others. I thought that was a great idea. The y all sound different. I didn’t know Georgette Heyer alos wrote one. This reminds me I’ve never read her and should do so.
      I read Lizzy’s Michael Kohlhaas review today and think I will read it during Kleist week.

      • Interesting to know that Melville House issued five different books called ‘The Duel’ 🙂 Melville House is a really interesting publisher! I didn’t know that Conrad also wrote a book with the same name. Georgette Heyer’s story was a short story and not a novel / novella. I read it in a romance story collection and it is quite nice. Georgette Heyer is a nice writer – she wrote regency romance novels and cosy murder mysteries. Hope you get to try her works sometime.

        • I agree, Melville House is very interesting. They have many books I would like to read or have read. I looked up the Heyer and didn’t find it. That’s why.
          I know so many people who love her work. One day…

          • I wrote about Georgette Heyer’s story, when I reviewed the collection in which I discovered it. If you are interested, you can find my post about it here. You can find this short story in Georgette Heyer’s short story collection ‘Pistols for Two’. If you would like to read it, but are not able to find it, I can send you an e-copy.

            • Thank you so much, Vishy. I will try to find it and read your review. It would be great to start with a short story first. I’ll take you up on the offer, if I cannot find it. 🙂

  9. I haven’t heard let known read this author but the books sure seem interesting. I’d love to be entered for the giveaway and the German Literature Reading Challenge. But even if I win the giveway, I wonder whether I’ll receive the books in time.

    Howver this challenge is very intersting and I’d love to be a part of it.

    • Welcome to German Literature Month.
      I don’t know where you live but the editor ships from the US. Kleist week is towards the end of November,Ii think that should work, should you win.

  10. I have never heard of Kleist, reading how he died is really tragic. Died at young age and never knew that his novel will be treasured.

    I would love to join the giveaway to know his writing.

  11. I’ll need to try and make time to blog read during the week or I’ll miss out on all the possible goodies! 😉 I am lucky though as I do have a copy of Von Kleist’s short stories. He came recommended by another blogger a few years ago. Perhaps I can squeeze in a short story or two by him next month!

    • It’s every Wedenesday until the end of November, with the exception of the October 26, I think. Now you know. And there are some titles you would like a lot that are still to come. Either on this or Lizzy’s blog.
      Kleist’s novellas are not long. I would suggest Die Marquise von O.

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