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Buildings of England

T.J. Clark, 19 March 2015

... time and again we go out two together,under the old trees … Rainer MariaRilke Not time and again, but – this being Ruby, my daughter aged six – just once. One typical Norfolk afternoon, as I recall it, In early summer, so that the oaks creaking in the hedgerows Were still ...


J.P. Stern, 3 November 1983

The Sacred Threshold: A Life of Rainer MariaRilke 
by J.F. Hendry.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 85635 369 8
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Rilkesein Leben, seine Welt, sein Werk 
by Wolfgang Leppmann.
Scherz Verlag, 483 pp., £11, May 1981, 3 502 18407 0
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Rainer MariaRilkeLeben und Werk im Bild 
edited by Ingeborg Schnack.
Insel Verlag, 270 pp., £2.55, May 1977, 3 458 01735 6
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... whose lives were so single-mindedly dedicated to the pursuit of poetry as was the life of Rainer MariaRilke. Poetry was the centre and margin, ‘the field and hedgerows’, of his existence. The men whose friendships he cherished, the host of women admirers and aristocratic protectors he met and corresponded ...

Poetry Inc.

Christopher Reid, 18 September 1986

A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer MariaRilke 
by Donald Prater.
Oxford, 472 pp., £25, March 1986, 9780198157557
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Letters: Summer 1926 
by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva and Rainer MariaRilke, edited by Yevgeny Pasternak and Yelena Pasternak.
Cape, 251 pp., £15, May 1986, 0 224 02376 4
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... To read Donald Prater’s biography of Rilke in the hope of getting to know the poet in depth would be a tantalising exercise. Lack of information is not the problem. There is no shortage of documentary evidence available to the investigator and Prater has made full use of it. Rilke himself supplied his large share in letters of a princely egocentricity, upon which he appears to have lavished a formidable outlay of time and creative energy ...
Life of a Poet: Rainer MariaRilke 
by Ralph Freedman.
Farrar, Straus, 640 pp., $35, March 1996, 0 374 18690 1
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Uncollected Poems 
by Rainer MariaRilke and Edward Snow.
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus, 266 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 86547 482 6
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Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’: Cambridge Readings 
edited by Roger Paulin and Peter Hutchinson.
Duckworth/Ariadne, 237 pp., £30, March 1996, 1 57241 032 9
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... wonderfully hard-headed. But there can’t be a weirder or more unmanageable image than that of Rilke, the social and emotional butterfly, dreamy, hysterical, devoted to angels and children and the lure of death, perpetually stranded, it seems, in some angular Art Nouveau twilight, and yet capable of the sternest, strongest lines, mingling drastic common ...


Tariq Ali: In Cochabamba, 21 June 2007

... adored The Thousand and One Nights. ‘I got off lightly, she added. ‘My brother is called Rainer MariaRilke.’ I left on an early morning flight. An Indian, his back bent, a brush in each hand, was cleaning the streets. Waiting in Caracas for another plane I flicked through the guest book in the VIP ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney, 4 June 2015

New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... truth. When you think of Yeats’s ‘Cast a cold Eye/On Life, on Death./Horseman, pass by!’ or Rilke’s (translated) ‘Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy/of being no one’s sleep under so many/lids’, the sheer peevishness, the withdrawal, the implicit self-adulation, the up-yours-even-unto-the-elbow-and-from-beyond-the-grave of these great ...

Bad Faith

J.P. Stern, 21 July 1983

Franz Kafka’s Loneliness 
by Marthe Robert, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 251 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780571119455
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Kafka’s Narrators 
by Roy Pascal.
Cambridge, 251 pp., £22.50, March 1982, 0 521 24365 3
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The Trial 
by Franz Kafka, translated by Willa Muir and Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 255 pp., £1.75, October 1983, 0 14 000907 8
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Letters to Milena 
by Franz Kafka and Willy Haas, translated by Tania Stern and James Stern.
Penguin, 188 pp., £2.50, June 1983, 0 14 006380 3
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The Penguin Complete Novels of Franz Kafka: ‘The Trial’, ‘The Castle’, ‘America’ 
translated by Willa Muir, illustrated by Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 638 pp., £4.95, June 1983, 0 14 009009 6
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The Penguin Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka 
edited by Nahum Glatzer.
Penguin, 486 pp., £3.95, June 1983, 0 14 009008 8
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... of modern German literature generally. Similar qualms are voiced, a good deal more strongly, by Rainer MariaRilke, Kafka’s contemporary and fellow Prague German. In a letter of 11 January 1914 Rilke bitterly complains that the linguistic heritage to which he was born is ‘no ...

Je suis bizarre

Sarah LeFanu: Gwen John, 6 September 2001

Gwen John: A Life 
by Sue Roe.
Chatto, 364 pp., £25, June 2001, 0 7011 6695 9
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... sculptor Clara Westhoff, who studied with Rodin before Gwen met him, and married his secretary, Rainer MariaRilke. Modersohn-Becker died in 1907, aged 31, of complications after childbirth. Like John, she painted many portraits of women and many self-portraits; her subjects share with John’s a melancholy ...

Coruscating on Thin Ice

Terry Eagleton: The Divine Spark, 24 January 2008

Creation: Artists, Gods and Origins 
by Peter Conrad.
Thames and Hudson, 529 pp., £24.95, September 2007, 978 0 500 51356 9
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... turn to Browning or Hopkins instead. It was, to be sure, easier to make these claims of, say, Rainer MariaRilke than of Anthony Trollope, not to speak of Shopping and Fucking. Like most theories of art, Romanticism and its heirs privileged one particular form of it – in this case, poetry, which had taken up ...

Women are nicer

John Bayley, 20 March 1986

Marina Tsvetaeva: The Woman, her World and her Poetry 
by Simon Karlinsky.
Cambridge, 289 pp., £27.50, February 1986, 0 521 25582 1
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The Women’s Decameron 
by Julia Woznesenskaya, translated by W.B. Linton.
Quartet, 330 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 7043 2555 1
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... a passionate admiration for things German. In one of her explosively brilliant love letters to Rainer MariaRilke she was to proclaim that, like all true poets, she wrote her own language, which was neither French, German nor Russian. Be that as it may, in her 1919 essay ‘O Germanii’ (‘On Germany’) she wrote ...

Slashed, Red and Dead

Michael Hofmann: Rilke, To Me, 21 January 2021

... One​ doesn’t think of Rainer MariaRilke writing poems on subjects that might otherwise appear in newspapers and books of social history – on anything like emigration or poverty or unemployment. Even by the standard of unworldly poets, he is like one of those cabinet ministers who doesn’t know the price of milk ...

Bogey’s Clean Sweep

Michael Holroyd, 22 May 1980

The Life of Katherine Mansfield 
by Antony Alpers.
Cape, 466 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01625 3
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... marriage. He had brought with him a long poem... A mile or so upstream from Sierre, at Muzot, was Rainer MariaRilke, whose Duino Elegies, held in suspension throughout the war, would soon miraculously complete themselves within a space of eight days. In Paris James Joyce awaited the publication of his Odyssey composed ...

Caricature Time

Clair Wills: Ali Smith calls it a year, 8 October 2020

by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 384 pp., £16.99, August, 978 0 241 20706 2
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... past, and people without much time left – the very old or the sick, like Katherine Mansfield and Rainer MariaRilke in Spring – are so often the bearers of enlightenment. They aren’t interested in sequence and story. Enlightenment happens only when now meets then, so arguably the crisis that has made next-door ...

Vermicular Dither

Michael Hofmann, 28 January 2010

The World of Yesterday 
by Stefan Zweig, translated by Anthea Bell.
Pushkin Press, 474 pp., £20, 1 906548 12 9
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... striking about his features’ (just as it does, incidentally, and with more justice, about Rainer MariaRilke: ‘features, not in themselves striking’) isn’t going to raise the bar for perspicacity or boldness. Accordingly, the human portraits are not among the best things here: the pages on Vienna, Paris ...

Homer Inc

Edward Luttwak, 23 February 2012

The Iliad by Homer 
translated by Stephen Mitchell.
Weidenfeld, 463 pp., £25, October 2011, 978 0 297 85973 4
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... the Tao Te Ching (now Dao De Jing), less well known than its supposed author Lao Tzu (now Laozi), Rainer MariaRilke (from German, French, or both?) and the Book of Job, Sefer Iiov, which I happen to know quite well but would never dare translate. In any case, Mitchell persuasively describes himself translating the ...

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