This is a collection of very curious and powerful tales by a German writer of the 1800's- in a modern translation. According to the preface by Thomas Mann, Kelist's work mirrored his tormented, sick genius and shocked his contemporaries. He committed suicide at 35 but left a life-view which Kafka and later writers recognized; it is in fact a modern view of a world full of arbitrary horrors. Many of its grotesque aspects are heightened by the use of stock, legendary characters- knights-Marquises- etc., but their fairyland has subtly changed. The Marquise of O..., a respectable widow, discovers she is pregnant but has no idea how it happened. A duel fought for the honor of another innocent, Lady Littegarde, apparently proves her guilty. A pair of lovers, condemned to die, are rescued by an earthquake-but going to Mass to give thanks are torn to pieces by the mob..... This sense of cruel, capricious fate, of the ordinary suddenly bereft of rules, of the bizarre- the terrible and the unanswerable, give these stories their hauntin quality. Possibly because they contain a real ghost- a terror hidden in all minds? Or perhaps a different one for different readers.