I wrote quite a bit on this, but then deleted it all. It was ok. I liked the mad Schiller-like bits. But it would have been nice if Kleist had worked on it a bit more. I wonder if what scholars find so astonishing and remarkable about Kleist isn’t that he’s actually not very good at stories so they always end up an incomprehensible mess.
We see this occasionally in films: a film of weird complexity comes out, and everyone argues about what it means, what the explanation of it is – critics create theories; ordinary people in the street create theories; they argue amongst themselves and yes, it is a great pleasure to argue – and yet, nobody wants to stand up and say, but perhaps it just doesn’t make any sense, perhaps it’s just badly written rubbish and they couldn’t be bothered to think it through. (It’s very easy to do; it’s not a mark of profundity).
Josipovici mentions somewhere (here are perhaps the most thorough quotations available on the non-pay internet) that Kleist in his writings eschews “common explanations” as, say, you’ll find in the midrash (explanations by scholars of the stranger passages in the Bible). Thus he opens himself up (like, say, Kafka) to the exegesis of literary critics, who are just modern-day religious men (religious men without religion) – to create a midrash of their own (an infinite midrash, which will keep them in work) – and, since they are religious, since they believe in God (who is – ironically, considering their stance on such things – equated with the Author), the last conclusion their exegesis is ever likely to come to is that – well, perhaps it was just badly thought-out in the first place.