"Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser is as powerful a short story as I have yet read.
"He wants to abandon himself to the entire catastrophe of being a poet: the best thing for me is to be destroyed as quickly as possible"
"Kleist wants a brutal war, to fight in a battle, to himself he seems a miserable superfluous person"
There are still several days left in German Literature Month IV. Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.
The schedule and guidelines for participation are on the event webpage. Just reading the posts of all the other participants is tremendously informative. There is an interesting contest or two and some prizes to be won. One of the tasks participants are charged with is reading a work first published in 2014 and this collection qualifies.
I am very happy to be once again participating in German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy's Literary Life. Events like this are one of the great things about being part of the international book blog community. I know there is a lot of work that goes into a month long event and I offer my thanks to Lizzy and Caroline
Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014
1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
2. Gertrude by Hermann Hesse
3. "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)
4. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
5. Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925
6. Life Goes On by Hans Keilson
7. Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson
8. "The Wall" by Jurek Becker
9. "Romeo" by Jurek Becker
10. "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.
11. Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard
12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser
13. "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler
14. Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker
15. The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,
16. "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke 1894
17. "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950
18. "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924
19. "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810
20. Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923
21. Concrete 1982
22. "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913
"The last paragraph with its excruciating modulation seals an account of mental ruin as good as anything I know in literature". - Susan Sontag
I have read Robert Walser's "Kleist in Thun" five times. I will continue to read it over and over for the rest of my life. It is high art, in the Sontagian categories, fully on a par with Middleton, the dramas of Aesylcus, Proust, and "The Dead". I accept this sounds hyperbolic but I do not think many who have read it deeply will disagree.
The story weaves in and out of the consciousness of Heinrich von Kleist, the narrator and the evident persona of Walser. Kleist has gone in retreat to a small hotel on an island in the River Aare in Thun located in the canon of Bern in Zwitgerland to write, to have peace, to be alone, to think, to be Kleist.