Josephe

Heinrich von Kleist’s famous story “The Earthquake in Chile” is set in Santiago in 1647. A young Carmelite nun named Josephe, condemned to death for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, is about to be beheaded. Across town, her lover, Jeronimo Rugera, is preparing to hang himself in the prison where he has been incarcerated. Just as the bells announcing Josephe’s imminent execution begin to toll, a gigantic earthquake strikes: We now know that it measured around 8.5 on the Richter scale, just a little less than the recent 8.8 quake.

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