The Confusions of Young Master Törless

    By Robert Musil

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    Musil’s limpid, psychological evocation of adolescent sexuality and its often sadistic eroticism which anticipates the carnage of both World Wars. As the nineteenth century draws to an end, young Törless is sent to a military boarding school for the sons of the nobility on the eastern outreaches of…

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    Wilhelm Meister

    By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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    Seduced by the chimerical world of the theatre and taking upon himself the grand ambition of becoming a successful performer and dramatist, the merchant’s son Wilhelm Meister embarks on a tumultuous quest of self-discovery. Along his path he finds himself having to negotiate love, desire and the nee…

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    The Sandman

    By E.T.A. Hoffmann

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    Nathanael remains haunted by his childhood fear that the lawyer Coppelius, a strange night-time visitor who used to come to his house to conduct alchemical experiments with his father – the latter dying as a consequence of one of these sessions – was none other than the Sandman, a mythical figure wh…

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    The King’s Bride

    By E.T.A. Hoffmann

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    Happily engaged to the poet Amandus, Fräulein Anna is horrified to discover that a beautiful ring, mysteriously deposited upon her finger whilst tending her kitchen garden, forces her into marriage with the gnome Corduanspitz. Can Anna find any way of removing the ring? Will her poet lover shake off…

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    Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing

    By Joseph von Eichendorff

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    Eichendorff’s prose masterpiece – a picaresque account of the wanderings of a young man who leaves home after a row with his father, and who eventually finds love with the girl of his dreams – is one of the best-known classics of German literature. Deeply imbued with the style and sentiment of Germa…

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    Peter Schlemihl

    By Adelbert von Chamisso

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    Unsuccessful in his endeavours, the young and naive Peter Schlemihl seals a pact with the Devil in which he exchanges his shadow for the purse of Fortunatus, thereby gaining everlasting riches. But when he is ridiculed, persecuted and hated for being different from other men, he realizes that povert…

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    The Sorrows of Young Werther

    By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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    Presented as a collection of confessional letters written by the eponymous protagonist, The Sorrows of Young Werther charts the emotional journey of a young man who, during a stay in a picturesque German village, falls in love with Lotte, a local woman engaged to another man. As he realizes that his…

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    The Black Spider

    By Jeremias Gotthelf

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    After one of their own people repeatedly fails to live up to a pact with the Devil, a petty and morally bankrupt village community is plagued by a swarm of deadly black spiders. Using a complex narrative structure, Gotthelf ’s cautionary novella shrewdly dissects the iniquitous social dynamics of ru…

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    Elective Affinities

    By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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    Baron Eduard and his second wife Charlotte enjoy a quiet, humdrum existence in their opulent castle, but when he invites his friend the Captain and she invites her niece Ottilie to stay with them, their lives are turned inside out as both hosts begin to feel attracted to their guests. Using one of t…

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    Lenz

    By Georg Buchner

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    Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Vosges mountains, Lenz tells the tale of the real-life writer J.M.R. Lenz’s nineteen-day stay in Waldersbach in 1778, describing his wanderings around the mountainous surroundings and his worsening fits of madness, eventually culminating in his removal, unde…

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    The Lulu Plays

    By Frank Wedekind

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    Two of Wedekind’s most seminal plays, Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box both focus on the actions of the young heroine Lulu, who embodies both animal sensuality and waif-like innocence, as she escapes a life on the streets, receives a society education, marries, takes on various lovers, becomes a dance…

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    Mozart’s Journey to Prague

    By Eduard Morike

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    While on a journey with his wife to Prague for the opening night of Don Giovanni, Mozart is caught picking an orange on the grounds of a stately home. But when the resident family find out who they are dealing with, they are delighted to be in the presence of the celebrated composer and invite him t…

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