In this extraordinary and unpredictable cross-section of the work of one of the most influential free spirits of German letters, Peter Wortsman captures the breathlessness and power of Heinrich von Kleist’s transcendent prose. From “The Earthquake in Chile,” his damning invective against moral tyranny; to “Michael Kohlhaas,” an exploration of the extreme price of justice; to “The Marquise of O . . . ,” his twist on the mythic triumph-of-love story; to his essay “On the Gradual Formation of Thoughts While Speaking,” which tracks the movements of the unconscious decades before Freud; these tales, essays, and fragments confront the dangers of self-deception and the ultimate impossibility of existence in a world of absolutes.