Mysteries and lovers

»His writings exhibit in fact the single-minded intensity of the sadomasochist: in his finest play Penthesilea the heroine tears her lover Achilles limb from limb with her teeth and bare hands, and in several short stories he describes in graphic detail how the hero blows out his own brains after first killing the heroine. Kleist threatened to kill himself on several occasions, inexplicably broke off an engagement to be married, and loved secrecy and disguise and mysterious trips with male friends. At the age of thirty-four, Kleist entered into a suicide pact with Henriette Vogel – not as doomed lovers, simply as doomed individuals, she doomed by terminal cancer, he by poverty and disillusion – and one day in November 1811 on the shore of the Wannsee he shot her and then himself. […] The early psychoanalysts were fascinated by his bizarre life and monomaniacal characters. A homosexual conflict is obviously the key to unlocking his inner life, but his biographers tend to refer vaguely to ›the mysteries‹ of his emotional and sexual life. An astonishing letter survives to Ernst von Pfuel, written while Napoleon was ravaging the country and separating the two men who were obviously lovers; Pfuel was destined to become the Prussian War Minister. Most of Kleist’s letters are addressed to his close friend Rühle von Lilienstern, his confidant rather than his lover, but that relationship also seems to have begun in similarly intense circumstances.« (aus: Rictor Norton [Hrsg.]: My Dear Boy. Gay Love Letters through the Centuries [Übers. von Alexandra Trone]. San Francisco: Leyland Publications, 1998)

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