‘On the Marionette Theatre’ by Heinrich von Kleist, translated by Idris Parry

Two friends meet in the park, and, because it’s early 19th Century Germany, they immediately launch into philosophical chat. The conversation, which is really a sequence of anecdotes, is about the idea of grace: a condition found, according to one protagonist, not in humans per se but in human surrogates – statues, animals, puppets. What emerges is a kind of horror story about human consciousness, which is of course not about early 19th century Germany at all, but about right now, whenever you happen to be reading it.

First published in German in The Berliner Abendblätter, December 1810 and available online here. Collected in Selected Writings, Hackett, 2004, in a translation by David Constantine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s