Book

Heinrich von Kleist

Hilda Meldrum Brown

Published in print June 1998 | ISBN: 9780198158950
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191673436 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198158950.001.0001
Heinrich von Kleist

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This book presents an integrated approach to the literary and non-literary writings of the major German author, Heinrich von Kleist. Analysis of Kleist's early letters, in particular, illuminates the oblique and unique processes by which he became aware of his vocation; simultaneously offering new perspectives from which to approach the works themselves. The discipline of recording observations based on visits to art galleries and travels through landscapes and towns in Prussia, Saxony, and Franconia stimulated Kleist's imagination, providing sets and scenarios which brought him gradually to an awareness of his innate dramatic talents. On a more theoretical level, he was led to speculate about the problem of illusion in art at the same time as he was wrestling with the epistemological implications of Kantian philosophy. The negative aspects of illusion which he drew from the latter were complemented by a new-found confidence in his ability as an artist to impart to the ‘fragility’ of the human condition a degree of fixity through form and structure and the coherence and control associated with verbal devices such as paradox and irony. These principles are shown to operate to varying degrees in all Kleist's works, and to gain in subtlety and depth, nowhere more than in his final masterpiece, Prinz Friedrich von Homburg.

Keywords: Heinrich von Kleist; illusion in art; Kantian philosophy; human condition; paradox; irony

Book.  420 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Heinrich von Kleist

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The Letters in Heinrich von Kleist

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The Occasional Writings in Heinrich von Kleist

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The <i>Erzählungen</i> in Heinrich von Kleist

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The Dramas in Heinrich von Kleist

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Conclusion in Heinrich von Kleist

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