Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany Death Wannsee, Germany German poet, dramatist, novelist and short story writer. It is presented as a simulated dialogue between a fictional dancer and a narrator. In the essay, Kleist has one of the interlocutors comment that marionettes possess a grace humans do not. Kleist was part of the Romantic tradition. Indeed, other artists of Romanticism, such as E. Hoffmann, J.

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Despairing of reason, he decided to place his trust in emotion. The unresolved conflict between them lies at the heart of his work. After Kleist had abandoned his studies, he went first to Paris and then to Switzerland. At this time he was also working on the play Robert Guiskard, an ambitious work in which he attempted to unite ancient Sophoclean tragedy and the Shakespearean drama of character, but it would remain a fragment.

He set out on a new journey and in Paris, overcome by despair, burned his manuscript of Guiskard though he partially rewrote it later and tried to volunteer for the French army. He resigned during training, however, and left for Dresden , where he hoped to continue writing, but was arrested by the French and imprisoned for six months as a spy.

The play employs vividly portrayed rustic characters, skillful dialogue , earthy humour, and subtle realism in its depiction of the fallibility of human feeling and the flaws inherent in human justice. It ranks among the masterpieces of German dramatic comedy. But the Berlin stage remained closed to him.

Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. They are all characterized by an extraordinary economy, power, and vividness and by a tragic subject matter in which men are driven to the limits of their endurance by the violence of other men or of nature.

Disappointed in life and embittered by the lack of recognition accorded him by his contemporaries, particularly Goethe, he came to know an incurably sick woman, Henriette Vogel, who begged him to kill her. This gave Kleist the final incentive to end his life, and on November 21, , he shot Henriette and himself on the shore of the Wannsee. This article was most recently revised and updated by J. Luebering , Executive Editorial Director.

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On a Theatre of Marionettes

After a scanty education, he entered the Prussian Army in , served in the Rhine campaign of , and retired from the service in with the rank of lieutenant. He studied law and philosophy at the Viadrina University and in received a subordinate post in the Ministry of Finance at Berlin. On a journey to Dresden in , Kleist was arrested by the French as a spy; he remained a close prisoner of France in the Fort de Joux. Captivated by the intellectual and musical accomplishments of the terminally ill Henriette Vogel de , Kleist, who was himself more disheartened and embittered than ever, agreed to do her bidding and die with her, carrying out this resolution by first shooting Vogel and then himself on the shore of the Kleiner Wannsee Little Wannsee near Potsdam , on 21 November


Heinrich von Kleist

He had recently been appointed principal dancer at the local theatre and was enjoying immense popularity with the audiences. I told him I had been surprised to see him more than once at the marionette theatre which had been put up in the market-place to entertain the public with dramatic burlesques interspersed with song and dance. He assured me that the mute gestures of these puppets gave him much satisfaction and told me bluntly that any dancer who wished to perfect his art could learn a lot from them. I inquired about the mechanism of these figures. His answer was that I must not imagine each limb as being individually positioned and moved by the operator in the various phases of the dance. Each movement, he told me, has its centre of gravity; it is enough to control this within the puppet.

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