Michael Kohlhaas

Michael Kohlhaas

Newly translated by Michael Hofmann


'I finished it in one sitting. Probably for the tenth time... it carries me along waves of wonder' Franz Kafka


Based on the real life of an ordinary horse-dealer cheated by a government official, Michael Kohlhaas is the darkly comical and magnificently weird story of one man's alienation from a corrupt legal system. When his attempts to claim his rights are thwarted by bureaucracy and nepotism, Kohlhaas vows to take justice into his own - increasingly bloody - hands. Will he be remembered as a dangerous enemy of the peace, or a vigilante hero?

Praised by Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Susan Sontag, Roberto Bolaño, Werner Herzog, and J. M. Coetzee, this is one of the most influential tales in German literature. In this vital new translation by the renowned poet Michael Hofmann, Kleist's bizarre, brutal and maddening story is urgent today.


  • This sparkling new translation from Michael Hofmann makes for a fine entry point into Kleist's passionate, grotesque, hysterical, and deeply strange body of work
    The New Yorker

About the author

Heinrich Von Kleist

Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) was a German poet, dramatist, novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. Along with his older contemporaries Goethe and Schiller, he was one of the great innovative forces in the early Romantic movement. After serving in the Prussian Army during the Rhine campaign of 1796, Kleist enrolled in Viadrina University, where he studied law and philosophy. Eventually, after much travel, he settled in Berlin. He committed double suicide with a terminally ill woman.
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