The Marquise of O—— Additional Summary

Heinrich von Kleist


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Fischer, Bernd, ed. A Companion to the Works of Heinrich von Kleist. Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2003. This useful overview places Kleist in the history of the novella and offers a fine general reading of this particular story. It includes chapters on theme as well as chapters centered on specific works.

Gelus, Marjorie. “Patriarchy’s Fragile Boundaries Under Siege: Three Stories of Heinrich von Kleist.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature and Culture 10 (1995): 59-82. Gelus offers a balanced feminist approach to The Marquise of O—— with special attention to the symbolic nature of the count’s dream about the white swan.

McAllister, Grant Profant, Jr. Kleist’s Female Leading Characters and the Subversion of Idealist Discourse. New York: Peter Lang, 2005. This book approaches Kleist from a philosophical perspective and reads female characters such as the marquise in terms of their power to contest the dominant ideological frame of the works in which they appear.

McGlathery, James M. Desire’s Sway: The Plays and Stories of Heinrich von Kleist. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1983. McGlathery offers a compelling reading of the centrality of human desire—which may issue in love or death—in Kleist’s novellas and plays.

Weineck, Silke-Maria. “Kleist and the Resurrection of the Father.” Eighteenth Century Studies 37, no. 1 (Fall, 2003): 69-89. This article carries out a nuanced psychoanalytical reading of The Marquise of O—— in relation to other works by Kleist that treat the role of the father figure.

Winnett, Susan. “The Marquise’s ’O’ and the Mad Dash of Narrative.” In Rape and Representation, edited by Lynn A. Higgins and Brenda R. Silver. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. Winnett offers a feminist reading of the novella replete with the most current theoretical thinking, in particular that of critic-novelist Monique Wittig. Winnett’s reading helps explain the ongoing interest in this early nineteenth century tale.