Heinrich von Kleist

Author: Heinrich von Kleist

Profile: Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm is better known as Heinrich von Kleist. Heinrich von Kleist was a German poet, novelist, journalist, dramatist and short story writer. He was born in Frankfurt (Oder), Margraviate of Brandenburg, Holy Roman Empire and died in Kleiner Wannsee, Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia. He has been the pioneer of the Romanticism literary movement. Some of his most notable works are The Broken Jug, The Marquise of O, Michael Kohlhaas, Penthesilea and The Prince of Homburg. Heinrich had committed suicide along with his close terminally ill female friend.

Kleist was born in the von Kleist family and after scanty education he made an entry in the Prussian Army in 1792 after which he served in the 1796 Rhine campaign. He retired in 1799 from service with the rank of lieutenant. He studied law at the Viadrina University and received a subordinate post in the Ministry of Finance at Berlin in 1800. Soon in the year that followed his restless, roving spirit got the better of him after which he applied for a lengthy leave, went to Paris and then settled in Switzerland. He met congenial friends in Heinrich Zschokke and Ludwig Wieland, the son of poet Christoph Martin Wieland and read out to them his first gloomy tragedy and drama, The Schroffenstein Family (1803). He stayed for a while in Germany in 1802 then proceeded to Paris and returned to Berlin in 1804 to join back in the department for the administration of crown lands. In 1807 he was arrested as spy by the French, imprisoned in France and after his release proceeded to Dresden after which he published the journal Phobus in 1808 in conjunction with Adam Heinrich Muller.

Writing style: Heinrich von Kliest’s Explorations of Literary Dissonance The Impact of Heinrich von Kleist unfolds between moral extremes and precise depictions. His characters appear as paradigms of human fallibility, crystallized in his words.

Published Texts:

Literary works

The Schroffenstein Family

1808 – Penthesilea

1808 Kathchen of Heilbronn (romantic play)

1808 – The Broken Jug

1808 – Amphitryon

1809 – Die Hermannsschlacht

The Prince of Homburg

1810 – 1811 – Gesammelte Erzahlungen (Collected Short Stories)

Michael Kholhaas

The Earthquake in Chile

St. Cecilia, or the Power of Music

The Marquise of O

On the Gradual Production of Thoughts Whilst Speaking (Essay)

Gesammelte Schriften

Ausgewahlte Dramen

Opera Adaptations

1910 – Der Prinz von Homburg

1968/69 – Der zerbrochne Krug

1927 – Penthesilea

2015 – Penthesilea


1969 – Like Two Merry Aeronauts

1969 – Michael Kholhaas – der Rebell

1970 – San Domingo

1975 – Earthquake in Chile

1976 – The Marquise of O

1977 – Heinrich

1981 – Ragtime

1983 – Heinrich Penthesilea von Kleist

1984 – Die Familie oder Schroffenstein

1997 – II principle di Homburg

1999 – The Jack Bull

2008 – II seme della discordia

2012 – Kohlhaasoder die VerhaltnismaBigkeit de Mittel

2014 – Amour Fou

2014 – Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

Awards and Acknowledgements:

A prestigious prize for German literature, called The Kleist Prize is named after Heinrich von Kleist.

The Kleist Theatre has also been named after him in his birthplace Frankfurt an der Oder.