Book Review: The Duel by Heinrich von Kleist


This is the second of the five duel novellas published in the Melville series. I must admit when I ordered the whole set of 42 books I was thinking that it was “duals” not “duels”. I didn’t bother to look into what they were. I assumed they were five books that had two novellas in each volume–that is a book with dual novellas.  Imagine my surprise and embarassment when they show up and they are actually five novellas all with the same title The Duel.

Live and learn.

I found von Kleist’s duel particularly interesting. Frankly it doesn’t even matter what the plot is–although it is interesting. For me the fascinating thing about this duel is that although the book was written in 1810, the action takes place in the fourteenth century, when duels were actually treated as Divine judgement. In other words the loser of a duel was guilty because god let him lose. How can you argue with logic like that?

The Verdict: I was fascinated by this one because of its depiction of a duel being “indicative of God’s judgement.”


2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Duel by Heinrich von Kleist

  1. Laura August 29, 2011 / 6:57 pm

    On my way home tonight I listened to the latest Books on the Nightstand podcast where they discuss how Melville House is making “hybrid books” available through this series. I was reminded of your earlier review and realized you were reading this collection. Interesting!


  2. Thomas at My Porch August 30, 2011 / 2:05 pm

    Laura: It is always fun when those coincidences pop up. I don't have the equipment to scan the code thingy.


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