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In a Northern Italian town during the Napoleonic Wars, Julietta, a young widow and mother of impeccable reputation, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. This follows an attack on the town’s citadel, in which several Russian soldiers tried to assault her before she was rescued by Count F-, at which point she fell unconscious. Thrown out of her father’s house, Julietta publishes an announcement in the local newspaper stating that she is pregnant and would like the father of her child to make himself known so that she can marry him.
What follows is an ambiguously comic drama of sexuality and family respectability. One of Kleist’s best-loved works, The Marquise of O- is an ingenious and timeless story of the mystery of human desire, and Nicholas Jacobs’s new translation captures the full richness of its irony.