Kleist in Thun | Robert Walser (1913)


Heinrich von Kleist lived in Thun twice in his life, in 1802 and 1803. Initially, it was his
intention to become a farmer in the spirit of Rousseau. He lived on the small island Delosea,
which is known as Kleist Island today.

“At times on ordinary weekdays the whole small town seems to him bewitched by sun and stillness. He stands motionless before the strange old town hall, with the sharp-edged numerals of its date cut in the gleaming white wall. It is all so irretrievable, like the form of a folk song the people have forgotten. Hardly alive, no, not alive at all. He mounts the enclosed wooden stair to the castle where the old earls lived, the wood gives off the odor of age and of vanished human destinies. Up here he sits on a broad, curved, green bench to enjoy the view, but closes his eyes. It all looks so terrible, as if asleep, buried under dust, with the life gone out of it. The nearest thing lies in a faraway veil-like dreaming distance. Everything is sheathed in a hot cloud. Summer, but what sort of a summer? “

Robert Walser, Kleist in Thun (1913)

Robert Walser, Kleist in Thun
Robert Walser lived in Thun for a few months in spring 1899, working in the brewery here,
if we can believe the narrator of his 1913 story “Kleist in Thun,” who makes this claim.

Kleist’s Cottage on Delosea Island in Lake Thun, 1802-1803
 Different Feelings about a Seascape | Heinrich von Kleist (1810)

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