In a fascinating short essay in James Knowlson and John Pilling's Frescoes of the Skull: the later prose and drama of Samuel Beckett (1979), Pilling writes:

Beckett's admiration for Heinrich von Kleist's Über das Marionettentheater, written in 1810 [Kleist shot himself a year later], emerged clearly in October 1976 during rehearsals of the first production on BBC television of his recent television play Ghost Trio...

It is not at all surprising, of course, that Beckett should have been so strongly attracted to Kleist's essay. For trapped as he is by his own consciousness of self, Beckett's man yearns to escape from the limitations of his mortal state ... his sense of the disaster of self-consciousness in man (and the inadequacy of the human intellect to arrive at any form of salvation) finds an unusually faithful echo in Kleist's remarkable essay.

If you want to read Kleist's essay for yourself, Idris Parry's translation is online at the Southern Cross Review.

Readers Comments

  1. Thanks for this Mark. Very interesting.

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