Summer Shorts: 10 Novellas Perfect for Literary Lounging

The Duel, Heinrich von Kleist

Length: 51 pages

Summary: A duke is murdered, his brother the Count is charged, a noblewoman’s reputation is besmirched, and a knight proposes a duel to defend her honor. The novella was originally published in German in 1810 and was considered one of the great works of German literature.

Author: Heinrich Von Kleist (1777–1811) is best known for his revolutionary plays and stories embracing realism and rejecting the ideals of eminent German humanists such as Goethe.

First line: “Toward the end of the fourteenth century, as night was falling on the feastday of St. Remigius, Duke Wilhelm von Breysach — who had been living in enmity with his half-brother, count Jakob Rotbart, ever since the Duke’s clandestine marriage to a countess reputedly below his social rank, Katharina von Heersbruck of the family Alt-Huningen — returned home from a meeting with the German Kaiser in Worms, at which the Duke had persuaded the Kaiser to legitimize as his one natural son, Count Philip von Huningen, who had been conceived before marriage, the Duke’s other children born in wedlock having died.”

Our Twitter-length review: A rousing, cinematic read — and a fine sample of Melville House’s new HybridBook series, which offers electronic bonus material (such as illustrated dueling instructions).