Facebook iconTwitter icon

Oxford German Network banner image

German Classics Prize

A German Classic 2021: 
Heinrich von Kleist, Die Verlobung in St. Domingo

Foto © H.-P.Haack


We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2021 edition of 'A German Classic' – Oxford's essay competition for sixth-form students. This year we would like to invite you to read with us one of the most influential German novellas of all time, Heinrich von Kleist's Die Verlobung in St. Domingo (1811). The story is set in the Caribbean, in what is today the Republic of Haiti, at the time of the insurrection of self-liberated slaves against French colonial rule that led to the country’s independence in 1804. Against this dramatic historical background develops an ill-fated love story between Toni, a mixed-race teenage girl, and Gustav, a white traveller from Europe. Kleist's take on race relations, civil unrest, and the power imbalance inherent in both colonial structures and gender dynamics has clear resonances in the twenty-first century. Told in Kleist's signature narrative style, which has influenced countless writers since the nineteenth century, Die Verlobung in St. Domingo is an excellent introduction to German literature. We hope you will want to study it with us!


For information on study packs that students can request for free by 12 noon, Friday, 25 June 2021, eligibility, prizes, essay questions, submission process, and judging criteria, see the participation guidelines. The deadline for essay submissions is at 12 noon, Wednesday, 15 September 2021. If you have any questions, please email the Prize Coordinator, Dr Karolina Watroba, at germanclassic@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk