Heinrich von Kleist: Penthesilea (2019 words)

Elystan Griffiths (University of Birmingham)
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Heinrich von Kleist’s emotional investment in his tragedy Penthesilea was considerable. His friend Ernst von Pfuel claimed that Kleist announced to him the death of his heroine with tears in his eyes. Kleist claimed that it was Pfuel himself who wept, but the story of Kleist’s lachrymosity is consistent with other evidence. In the autumn of 1807 he told Marie von Kleist: “my innermost being is in it […] all the filth and radiance of my soul”. The high degree of self-expression that was involved in the composition of the play in part explains some of its extraordinary features, such as its forceful, often tortuous linguistic construction and the uncommon violence of the action. The psychologically extreme states …

Citation: Griffiths, Elystan. "Penthesilea". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 December 2004 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=13126, accessed 07 August 2022.]

13126 Penthesilea 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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