The Earthquake in Chile is a novella written by German writer Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist, known as Heinrich von Kleist. Kleist was born in 1777 and lived until 1811, when he committed suicide along with Henriette Vogel, a female companion of his who was dying. Kleist shot Vogel and then himself by the side of the Kleiner Wannsee. Although he was not successful when he was alive, Kleist became posthumously successful and is now considered to be one of the greatest German novelists, playwrights, and philosophers. The Earthquake in Chile was published in 1807.
The novella tells the story of Spaniard Jeronimo Rugera and Josephe Asteron, a young couple who live in Santiago, Chile, in 1647. Josephe is the daughter of Don Henrico Asteron, the richest man in the city, and is a novice in a convent. The lovers are sentenced to death for falling in love and for Josephe becoming pregnant with Jeronimo’s child. Josephe gives birth to a son named Philip on the Cathedral steps. Jeronimo is about to commit suicide, and Josephe is about to be beheaded when Chile is hit by an earthquake. The couple manages to escape the city separately and are reacquainted in a remote valley. Despite their plans to head for Spain, Jeronimo and Josephe instead return to Santiago, where they are attacked and killed in a church there.