Books: Spelled Out in Blood

THE MARQUISE OF O—AND OTHER STORIES (318 pp.)—Heinrich von Kleist —Criterion ($5).

The Marquise was clearly pregnant, but she didn't know how she had gotten that way. Hers was not the usual fault of having been too generous to too many men. She was a virtuous Italian lady of noble birth, a gentle widow and devoted mother. Her father, mother and doctor were not amused when she denied having entertained any man, and a midwife sternly reminded her that only the Virgin Mary had been raised above the law of nature. Whereupon the baffled Marquise put an ad in the paper, described...

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