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Michael Kohlhaas is an 1811 novella by Heinrich von Kleist, based on a 16th-century story of Hans Kohlhase. Both the theme (a fanatical quest for justice) and the style (existentialist detachment posing as a chronicle) are surprisingly modern. They resonated with other writers more than a century after it was written. Kafka devoted one of only two public appearances in his whole life to reading passages from Michael Kohlhaas. Kafka said that he "could not even think of" this work "without being moved to tears and enthusiasm." (Introduction by Wikipedia)