Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th century

poets. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety — themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets. He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. His two most famous verse sequences are the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.

Contents
[hide]
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

1 Life 1.1 1875-1896 1.2 1897-1902 1.3 1902-1910 1.4 1910-1919 1.5 1919-1926 2 Rilke's literary style 3 Rilke's influence 3.1 Literature 3.2 Television 3.3 Film 3.4 Music 3.5 Art 3.6 Religion 4 Selection of works 4.1 Complete works 4.2 Volumes of poetry 4.3 Prose 4.4 Letters 4.4.1 Collected letters 4.4.2 Other volumes of letters 4.5 Translations 4.5.1 Selections 4.5.2 Duino Elegies 4.5.3 Sonnets to Orpheus 4.5.4 Other works 4.6 Books on Rilke 4.6.1 Biographies 4.6.2 Studies 5 References 6 External links

[edit] Life
[edit] 1875-1896
He was born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke in Prague, Bohemia (then within AustriaHungary, now the Czech Republic). His childhood and youth in Prague were sorrowful. His father, Josef Rilke (1838-1906), became a railway official after an unsuccessful military career. His mother, Sophie ("Phia") Entz (1851-1931), came from a well-to-do Prague family, the Entz-Kinzelbergers, who lived in a palace on the Herrengasse (Panská) 8, where René also spent much of his early years. Despite his mother's 1/8th Jewish background, Rilke was raised Roman Catholic[citation needed]. The relationship between Phia and her only son was encumbered by her prolonged mourning for her elder daughter who was lost after only a week of life. In fact, during Rilke's early years Phia acted as if

she sought to recover the lost girl through the boy by dressing him in girl's clothing when he was young, and making him act like a girl, etc..[1] The parents' marriage fell apart in 1884. His parents pressured the poetically and artistically gifted youth into entering a military academy, which he attended from 1886 until 1891, when he left due to illness. From 1892 to 1895 he was tutored for the university entrance exam, which he passed in 1895. In 1895 and 1896, he studied literature, art history, and philosophy in Prague and Munich.

[edit] 1897-1902
In 1897 in Munich, Rainer Maria Rilke met and fell in love with the widely traveled intellectual and lady of letters Lou Andreas-Salome (1861-1937). (Rilke changed his first name from "René" to the more masculine Rainer at Lou's urging.) His intense relationship with this married woman, with whom he undertook two extensive trips to Russia, lasted until 1900. But even after their separation, Lou continued to be Rilke's most important confidante until the end of his life. Having trained from 1912 to 1913 as a psychoanalyst with Sigmund Freud, she shared her knowledge of psychoanalysis with Rilke. In 1898, Rilke undertook a journey lasting several weeks to Italy. In 1899, he traveled with Lou and her husband, Friedrich Andreas, to Moscow where he met the novelist Leo Tolstoy. Between May and August 1900, a second journey to Russia, accompanied only by Lou, again took him to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, where he met the family of Boris Pasternak and Spiridon Drozhzhin, a peasant poet. Later, "Rilke called two places his home: Bohemia and Russia".[1] In autumn 1900, Rilke stayed at the artists' colony at Worpswede, where his portrait was painted by the proto-expressionist Paula Modersohn-Becker (illus. above). It was here that he got to know the sculptress Clara Westhoff (1878-1954), whom he married the following spring. Their daughter Ruth (1901-1972) was born in December 1901. However, Rilke was not one for a middle-class family life; in the summer of 1902, Rilke left home and traveled to Paris to write a monograph on the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Still, the relationship between Rilke and Clara Westhoff continued for the rest of his life.

[edit] 1902-1910
At first, Rilke had a difficult time in Paris, an experience that he called on in the first part of his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. At the same time, his encounter with modernism was very stimulating: Rilke became deeply involved in the sculpture of Rodin, and then with the work of Paul Cézanne. For a time he acted as Rodin's amanuensis, eventually writing a long essay on Rodin and his work. Rodin taught him the value of objective observation, which led to Rilke's Dinggedichten ("thing-poems"), a famous example of which is "Der Panther" ("The Panther"). During these years, Paris increasingly became the writer's main residence. The most important works of the Paris period were Neue Gedichte (New Poems) (1907), Der Neuen Gedichte Anderer Teil (Another Part of the New Poems) (1908), the two "Requiem" poems (1909), and the novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, started in 1904 and completed in January 1910.

[edit] 1910-1919
Between October 1911 and May 1912, Rilke stayed at the Castle Duino, near Trieste, home of Countess Marie of Thurn and Taxis. There, in 1912, he began the poem cycle called the Duino Elegies, which would remain unfinished for a decade due to a long-lasting creativity crisis. The outbreak of World War I surprised Rilke during a stay in Germany. He was unable to return to

Paris, where his property was confiscated and auctioned. He spent the greater part of the war in Munich. From 1914 to 1916 he had a turbulent affair with the painter Lou Albert-Lasard. Rilke was called up at the beginning of 1916, and he had to undertake basic training in Vienna. Influential friends interceded on his behalf, and he was transferred to the War Records Office and discharged from the military on 9 June 1916. He spent the subsequent time once again in Munich, interrupted by a stay on Hertha Koenig's Gut Bockel in Westphalia. The traumatic experience of military service, a reminder of the horrors of the military academy, almost completely silenced him as a poet.

[edit] 1919-1926
On 11 June 1919, Rilke traveled from Munich to Switzerland. The outward motive was an invitation to lecture in Zürich, but the real reason was the wish to escape the post-war chaos and take up once again his work on the Duino Elegies. The search for a suitable and affordable place to live proved to be very difficult. Among other places, Rilke lived in Soglio, Locarno, and Berg am Irchel. Only in the summer of 1921 was he able to find a permanent residence in the Chateau de Muzot in the commune of Veyras, close to Sierre in Valais. In May 1922, Rilke's patron Werner Reinhart purchased the building so that Rilke could live there rent-free. In an intense creative period, Rilke completed the Duino Elegies within several weeks in February 1922. Before and after, he wrote both parts of the poem cycle Sonnets to Orpheus containing 55 entire sonnets. Rilke afterwards called it "the great giving."[citation needed] Both works together constitute the high points of Rilke's work. From 1923 on, Rilke increasingly had to struggle with health problems that necessitated many long stays at a sanatorium in Territet, near Montreux, on Lake Geneva. His long stay in Paris between January and August 1925 was an attempt to escape his illness through a change in location and living conditions. Despite this, numerous important individual poems appeared in the years 1923-1926 (including Gong and Mausoleum), as well as a comprehensive lyrical work in French. Only shortly before his death was Rilke's illness diagnosed as leukemia. The poet died on 29 December 1926 in the Valmont Sanatorium in Switzerland, and was laid to rest on 2 January 1927 in the Raron cemetery to the west of Visp. Rilke had believed that his death would be from blood poisoning as the result of having been pricked by a rose thorn. He chose his own epitaph as: Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust, Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel Lidern. Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy of being No-one's sleep, under so many lids.

[edit] Rilke's literary style
Rilke's work was highly influenced by his education and knowledge of classic authors. Ancient gods Apollo, Hermes and hero Orpheus can be found often as motifs in his poems and are depicted in new ways and original interpretations (e. g. story of Eurydice, apathetic and dazed by death, not even recognising her lover Orpheus, who descended to hell for her, in the poem Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes). Other characteristic figures in Rilke's poems are angels, roses and a character of a poet and

his creative work. Rilke often worked with metaphors, metonymy and contradictions (e. g. as in his epitaph, rose is represented as a symbol of sleep - rose petals remind of closed eye lids, and of awakened senses colour, scent and fragility of a rose). Rilke's 1898 poem, "Visions of Christ" depicted Mary Magdalene as the mother to Jesus' child.[2][3] Quoting Susan Haskins: It was Rilke's explicit belief that Christ was not divine, was entirely human, and deified only on Calvary, expressed in an unpublished poem of 1893, and referred to in other poems of the same period, which allowed him to portray Christ's love for Mary Magdalene, though remarkable, as entirely human.[4]

[edit] Rilke's influence

German philosopher Martin Heidegger cites Rilke as an example of the highest form of thinker in his essay "What Are Poets For?" The essay's theme is largely explored through the examination of an "improvised verse" (short poem) Rilke wrote in 1924. Heidegger, sometimes considered the most influential German thinker of the 20th century, ranks Rilke in the German poetic tradition as second only to Friedrich Hölderlin. Erie Chapman cites Rilke frequently in his essays on caregiving. The Rilke Project involves contemporary pop artists and actors (including Xavier Naidoo, BAP, Jürgen Prochnow, and Katja Riemann) interpreting Rilke's texts to make Rilke accessible to new generations. The Rainer Maria Rilke Foundation in Sierre, was established in 1986 to promote the work of the poet.

• •

[edit] Literature

Rilke has also been celebrated in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, William Gaddis' voluminous novel The Recognitions, and William H. Gass' epic, controversial novel The Tunnel, in which the main character makes repeated reference to his interest in Rilke's poetry and to his long-ago love affair with a woman known only as "Lou." Rilke is also referred to in Julia Alvarez's novel How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. J.D. Salinger alludes to Rilke in various works, including the novel Franny and Zooey and the short story A Perfect Day for Bananafish. Audrey Niffenegger mentions and quotes from Rilke frequently in The Time Traveler's Wife. Douglas Coupland quotes Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet in Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. A Rilke translation inspired Lost in Translation, a celebrated 1974 poem by James Merrill. Jo Shapcott's collection of poems, Tender Taxes, is based on a series of Rilke's poems written in French. Rilke's poetry highly influenced the life and writings of Etty Hillesum. The Iranian modernist writer Sadegh Hedayat was deeply moved by Rilke's meditations on

• • • • • • •

death.
• • • •

Chilean novelist Germán Marín's trilogy Un animal mudo levanta la vista is named for a verse in the eighth Duino Elegy. Rilke's "Sonnets to Orpheus" was inspiration for W. H. Auden's Journey to a War, published in 1939. Rilke was mentioned in Tennessee William's "The Two-Character Play" The relationship of Rilke and Clara Westhoff and her early death is the subject Adrienne Rich's poem, 'Paula Becker to Clara Westhoff'. As the epigraph states, 'Paula Becker 1876-1907 Clara Westhoff 1878-1954 became friends at Worpswede, an artist's colony near Bremen, Germany, summer 1899. In January 1900, spent a half-year together in Paris, where Paula painted and Clara studied sculpture with Rodin. In August they returned to Worpswede, and spent the next winter together in Berlin. In 1901, Clara married the poet Rainer Maria Rilke; soon after, Paula married the painted Otto Modersohn. She died in a hemorrhage after childbirth, murmuring, What a shame!: Dream of a Common Language, Norton The title of Laying out the Body by Lucien Jenkins Seren Books, 1989 is taken from Rilke's 'Leichen-Wäsche', and that poem is translated within the collection, which also contains other work by Rilke. The title of Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books by Canadian author and academic Ted Bishop is in reference to Rilke, who is mentoned briefly in the book. Jane Fonda quotes Rilke numerous times in her autobiography 'My Life So Far.' In Milan Kundera's novel "Immortality" Rilke is called to the Eternal Trial of Goethe, relating to Goethe's treatment of Bettina, and Kundera quotes a passage from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge as Rilke's testimony. Mexican composer, Sergio Cardenas wrote "Un Rap para Mozart" (A Rap to Mozart). A book about musical anecdotes with a deep and personal point of view on some compositions of his own as well as Bach’s, Bruckner’s, and Mozart’s of course. Rilke’s poetry is quoted in translations made by the composer himself. In a chapter called "El Aplauso" (The Ovation), fragments from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge are quoted and discussed. The whole book, as the composer declared himself, is haunted by Rilke’s spiritual influence. Maxine Hong Kingston refers to Rilke several times in her book Tripmaster Monkey. The novel Lost Son by M. Allen Cunningham (2007) tells the story of Rilke's life from birth to age 42. A Rose for Ecclesiastes, a 1963 story by Roger Zelazny, features the main character quoting Rilke's poem "Spanish Dancer." The title and basic idea of Predrag Matvejevic's "The Other Venice" (2002, English translation 2007) was taken from Rilke's "Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge." The Triestine main character in Susanna Tamaro's "Anima Mundi" (1997, English translation 2007) refers to the fundamental influence of "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge" and "The Duino Elegies" in his life. In Amitav Ghosh's "The Hungry Tide", a major character (Nirmal) is a fan of Rilke's verses, and excerpts feature prominently in the text. Philip Roth's 1972 novella The Breast concludes with Rilke's poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo."

• • •

• • • • •

• •

The main character, an English professor, believes that his story will "illuminate these great lines for those of you new to the poem."

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful