Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

$3.50 Jane B. Greene and M. D. Herter NortonNORTON
THE career of Rainer Maria Rilke, one of modern Germany’s foremost lyric poets, was at once a struggle and a mission, as his letters testify. The letters in this volume, which supplements the already published Letters to a Young Poet and Wartime Letters, run from 1892 to 1910 and take the writer from his seventeenth to his thirty-fifth year. They are addressed to his wife Clara and to many friends, including the sculptor Auguste Rodin, whose imperturbable creative absorption Rilke strove to emulate.
Separated from his wife and baby daughter by the poverty that prevented even the purchase of copies of his own published poems, Rilke became a pilgrim; he roved from the artists’ colony at Worpswede to Paris, to Rome, where the Italian spring made him long for the subtler northern climate, and so onward, seeking and seldom finding the place and mood wherein to create through his poems “that being, which only the deepest art is able to produce in deep hours, . . . that one thing which is not chance, that moment of eternity about which everything we think and do circles like birds about clock towers. . . .
His letters, in this edition finely translated and expertly annotated, are a record of his quest; they foreshadow and illumine his poetry. Yet a reader need not know Rilke’s poems to enjoy and to value the letters for their eloquence, their universal application, and their narrative.