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In April 1898 Rainer Maria Rilke, not yet twenty-three, began a diary of his Florence visit. It was to record, in the form of an imaginary dialogue with his mentor and then-lover, Lou Andreas-Salome, his firsthand experiences of early Renaissance art. The project quickly expanded to include not only thoughts on life, history, and artistic genius, but also unguarded moments of revulsion, self-doubt, and manic expectation. The result is an intimate glimpse into the young Rilke, already experimenting brilliantly with language and metaphor. "For the lover of Rilke, this superb translation of the poet's early diaries will be a watershed. Through Edward Snow's and Michael Winkler's brilliantly supple and faithful translation ...a new and more balanced picture of Rilke will emerge."-Ralph Freedman

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780393318500
ISBN-10: 0393318508
Format: Paperback
(211mm x 140mm x 22mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Publish Date: 13-Jan-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » The musings of a writer during his apprenticeship. Rilke (1875-1926) spent two and a half years, from 1898 to 1900, keeping a diary at the suggestion of his lover, Lou Andreas-Salome. This intrinsically private work takes shape as an impassioned miscellany, including drafts of poems, gossip about Rilke's friends and acquaintances, direct observations of place, his reflections on art and architecture from the Renaissance to Rodin, and fictional tales. Mixed in with this stimulating hodgepodge is some blather. "Every day is the beginning of life," exulted Rilke in 1900. "Every life is the beginning of eternity." But the youthful Romantic could be witty as well as narcotically lyric. One of the diary's climactic moments comes as he commits to paper his adventure of trying to visit and impress Count Leo Tolstoy at the great man's country estate with Lou: "A dog comes right up to us, trusting and friendly, as we stand there in front of the small glass door. I bend down to the white dog and as I straighten up again I see behind the glass, vague and distorted by the flaws of the pane, a pair of searching eyes in a small grizzled face. The door opens, lets You [Lou] in and slams sharply against me, so that I, only after the Count has already greeted You, come in and now also stand before him, feeling awkwardly large." Rilke's actual visual sense takes the measure of Florence evocatively: "The ornamentation that nestles up against the columns is in the best instances unobtrusive and straightforward, a beautiful thought or a tender feeling elicited by the column." The poems included are languorously unfinished reveries, brimming with girls, flowers, and boyish, transcendent emotion. But Rilke was not always sacramentally poetic; even "a dachsund with the demeanor of a sphinx" could catch his eye and spur his sentences. Platitudes, poetry, and revelations for Rilke's many American admirers - translated for the first time into English. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Rainer Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is considered one of the greatest poets who ever wrote in the German language. His most famous works are Sonnets to Orpheus, The Duino Elegies, Letters to a Young Poet, and The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. His collected work is comprised of hundreds of other poems, essays, plays, and stories. Edward Snow is an award-winning translator of the poetry and prose of Rilke. He is a professor at Rice University and lives in Houston, Texas. Michael Winkler has written extensively on modern poetry and fiction. He is a professor at Rice University and lives in Houston, Texas.

Books By Author Rainer Rilke

Duino Elegies by Rainer Rilke

Duino Elegies

Paperback, May 2013
Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Rilke

Sonnets to Orpheus

Paperback, October 2012
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Rilke

Letters to a Young Poet

Paperback, April 2012