Anecdote from the Last Prussian War: Heinrich von Kleist

German 2015

For German Literature Month 2015, hosted by Caroline and Lizzy, I decided to pick a range of works–even though I was sorely tempted to concentrate on crime. Here’s a very brief short story from Heinrich von Kleist: Anecdote from the Last Prussian War–literally an anecdote as the title suggests. It’s not quite 5 pages for the kindle, thoroughly enjoyable, very cinematic, and although brief, it was well worth the 99c asking price.

This tale is told by an innkeeper to a traveler passing through. The inn is located in a village near Jena, and the innkeeper recalls that the village, which had been occupied by the Prussians, was subsequently “completely abandoned by the army of Prince von Hohenlohe.”  When the Prussians leave, the village is “surrounded by the French,” when suddenly a reckless “single Prussian cavalryman” rides up to the inn, says he hasn’t “had a drop all day,”  and asks for brandy….

The story concludes this way: “I haven’t seen such a fellow, said the innkeeper, my entire life long.” Lord Cardigan, famous or infamous for promoting dash and daring behaviour (and a lot of other things) amongst his men, would have approved of this Prussian officer.

For German Literature Month 2014, one of my choices was Heinrich Mann’s short story, A Crime, available only for the kindle, from the same translator, Juan LePuen. Here we have two short stories written originally in German and available via the kindle for those of us who can’t read German, so the post not only celebrates German Literature Month and Heinrich von Kleist, but also the entrepreneurial enthusiastic efforts of translators who utilize the kindle.

For those interested, at the end of this short story, there’s a list of other translations available for the kindle from Fario Books.

Translated by Juan LePuen


Filed under Fiction, Von Kleist Heinrich

13 responses to “Anecdote from the Last Prussian War: Heinrich von Kleist

  1. I had to read Kleist in school and, understandably, haven’t read much of him since. But a short story like this sounds more digestible.

  2. I’m not sure I’ve read this but I’ll hunt for it among my books. Either as a reread or first time. His longer works are a bit daunting in German. Very complex sentences.

  3. Caroline & Marina: The story was short and very enjoyable. I read longer von Kleist works in the past but I wanted to promote this for the reasons stated. I think you’d both like this. It’s just fun.

  4. Kleist’s most famous anecdote; another author we read extensively in school, so I haven’t re-read him since a long time. But maybe I should give it a try again…

  5. Nice thought to show what e-readers can bring.
    I see that your German Lit month starts right away.

  6. Great to get a good short story in so few pages, it does indicate the calibre of this writer.

  7. These kindle short stories are a great way of sampling an author’s work. I bought Mann’s A Crime off the back of your review last year, and it’s a great little story. This one sounds interesting too.

  8. That sounds rather fun. Thanks for flagging it.

  9. And, bought. I don’t think a five page short story really counts as a breach of #tbr20.

  10. I read this. Quite fun but very slight. An anecdote is a fair way of describing it. Still, I’d happily have read something longer so that makes it a successful taster.

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