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Duino Elegies [Hardcover]

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Item description for Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke...

The Duino Elegies are one of the twentieth century's great works of art. In the space of ten elegies, presented here in a bilingual edition, an impassioned monologue struggles to find an individual answer to what it means to be human in a world torn by modern consciousness.

In his introduction, David Oswald writes, "Rilke's poetry shows an unusual sensitivity to inner experience and to the symbolic processes of the psyche, two things that are important to me in my work as a Jungian analyst. His carefully crafted language conveys the movements of this otherwise 'unsayable' realm and addresses the issues of finding the proper relationship to it. My goal has been to create a translation that preserves this sensitivity and precision...

What are we? The Elegies seek a measure of humanness that is positive in form, one that goes beyond the painful recognition that we are neither totally natural in the way that animals are, nor totally transcendent as angels are. The emphasis on 'are' comes from the despair over the split of consciousness that hangs us 'between current and stone,' between the flow of our inner experience and the rigidity of our interpreted world, thus making it impossible for us to be 'something one' or something that remains constant. To be an 'I' means to be constantly caught between the polarities of the night and the day world, of animal and angel, of man and woman, of sexuality and spirituality, of hero and lover, of inner and outer world, of life and death, and never to be at one with any of it.

The Duino Elegies do not overcome or eliminate this lament, but the cycle tries to give meaning to the split by giving consciousness a direction towards 'the open.'"

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Item Specifications...

Pages   121
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.6" Width: 5.7" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1997
Publisher   Daimon Verlag
ISBN  3856305416  
ISBN13  9783856305413  

Availability  0 units.

More About Rainer Maria Rilke

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is one of the greatest lyric German poets. Born in Prague, he published his first book of poems, Leben und Lieber, at age nineteen. He met Lou Salome, the talented and spirited daughter of a Russian army officer, who influenced him deeply. In 1902 he became the friend, and for a time the secretary, of Rodin, and it was during his twelve-year Paris residence that Rilke enjoyed his greatest poetic activity. In 1919 he went to Switzerland where he spent the last years of his life. It was there that he wrote his last two works, Duino Elegies (1923) and The Sonnets to Orpheus (1923).
About the Translator:
Stephen Mitchell was born in Brooklyn in 1943 and studied at Amherst, the University of Paris and Yale. Considered one of the preeminent translators of his generation he has translated many classic texts including Gilgamesh, The Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching and the Book of Job.

Rainer Maria Rilke lived in Prague. Rainer Maria Rilke was born in 1875 and died in 1926.

Rainer Maria Rilke has published or released items in the following series...
  1. European Poetry Classics (Paperback)
  2. Modern Library (Hardcover)
  3. Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)
  4. Penguin Classics
  5. Vintage International

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Reviews - What do customers think about Duino Elegies?

The Epitome of Poetry  Mar 29, 2002
For me, at least, Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies are the very epitome of poetry. I know others who, even though they admire Rilke above all other poets, prefer other "Rilke" poems, such as "Evening." For me, however, it has always been, and always will be, the Elegies. Certainly they are the most extravagant and elusive of Rilke's poems, even for those who count others among their favorites.

Rilke, who longed for a place of solitude in the country, arrived at the fortress-like Castle Duino, high above the Adriatic, near Trieste, in December 1911. His hostess was Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe, who had invited Rilke to translate Dante's Vita Nuova with her. Princess Marie, however, soon left for more sociable climes and Rilke was left alone on the stormy, wind-swept cliffs of Duino. Rilke, at this time of his life, was known to commit himself to a strict regimen of work. Nevertheless, his poems, he has written, always seemed to burst upon him suddenly, like a thunderstorm on a hot summer's afternoon. And, one afternoon at Duino, the opening line of the first elegy burst upon Rilke like a flash of lightening.

There is no problem with the Duino Elegies...if one reads and comprehends German. If one doesn't, however, the problems of translation can be enormous. Translation, always a fragile task, becomes even more so when it involves poetry, and reaches its zenith with a work as sublime as Rilke's Duino Elegies. So many versions of these gorgeous poems exist (at least twenty), that the Elegies are certainly suffering from a case of "translation overkill."

In the original German, the Duino Elegies are the most sublime expressions of awe, of terror, of love, of splendor, of Life, that have ever been set down by the hand of man. In hands other than Rilke's, however, they can seem clumsy and more than a bit melodramatic. Rilke wrote delicately-calibrated poetry, without excess words and, the dread of all translators, the hyphenated word. But, all that aside, reading the Elegies in translation, any translation, is better than not reading them at all.

No matter how "angelic" these poems may seem, never doubt that they are expression of life in the here and now. As Rilke, himself, tells us, "the world exists nowhere but within us." These gorgeous poems are about the difficulties of living in this world, of not being heard by the angels, and of the tragedy that can so easily befall us. They are about Rilke's desire for solitude and his desire to escape it, i.e., the need and the utter impossibility of understanding and being understood completely in this life.

Although many of the translations are flawed, as translation by its very nature must be, the Duino Elegies remain the epitome of poetry. They are a cry of terror, of awe, of joy, of splendor at the lonely and solitary condition of man.

Disrespectful Translation: Rilke & William Carlos Williams?  Feb 15, 2001
Rilke's "Duino Elegies" form one of the most perfect collections of lyric poetry you can ever hope to get your hands on. Unfortunately for the David Young translation, however, there is much less Rilke than there ought to be; a series of strange decisions on Young's part casts a shadow over even the brighter moments of his rendering of this masterpiece.

For example, Rilke was a genius at enjambment; that is, he was a master at placing his most important words at the very end or very beginning of a line, in order to highlight them. Think of the first line, which ends with "Engel," splitting it from the first word of the next line, "Ordnungen." (Young merely gives these words together, as "angelic orders," at the end of the third line.) By divorcing the angels from their orders in the poem's very first line, Rilke sets the tone that not all is right in the heavens.

And Rilke's line breaks are even more important than those of other poets, because they are few and far between, since his lines are nice and fat, often more than 13 syllables. Young's lines, on the other hand, are broken up into tiny 2- to 8-syllable, bite-sized chunks. This changes not only the rhythm of Rilke's verse--which obviously would have changed anyway, in translation--but its compositional emphases, as the structure of the most important lines is simply whisked away. And that is a tragedy.

Young's excuse for this unfortunate decision? He happened, while he was working on the translation, "to re-read some of William Carlos Williams' late poetry," and he liked Williams' stubbier, tri-partite lines. Rilke, however, is not William Carlos Williams, and Young's rendering of Rilke as Williams suffers because of this incongruity. (Oddly enough, though, Williams is another poet for whom every line break bears an awful lot of weight; too bad Young didn't carry that respect for enjambment into his work on the "Duino Elegies.")

Those interested in Rilke should do themselves a favor and pick up Mitchell's translation. I simply can't recommend this edition. It gets three stars because, despite the muddle, there are SOME beautifully rendered lines, and some of the power of Rilke manages to squeeze through. And that's always a wonderful thing.

Breathtaking  Jul 15, 2000
"For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror we can just barely endure, and we admire it so because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible." - Rainer Maria Rilke, First Elegy

The Duino Elegies are quite possibly the greatest work of Rainer Maria Rilke, himself one of the greatest poets, German language or otherwise, of all time. The elegies, writen in the cold vast chambers of Duino Castle, deal with all the greatest issues of human existence: love, death, tragedy, God, and life's very meaning. Their language reflects their origin: like the Castle's empty stone hallways, the words are perfectly formed; they are fragile and beautiful; weightless and profound. Rilke's first elegy begins with a reflection on the awesome, terrifying power of beauty. He longs to experience it, but knows that it would destroy him. As he writes on, the reader grows to understand and feel not only Rilke's longing, but his fear. The terrible beauty, looming behind all the elegies, is present in the text. The poems inspire wonder, raise profound quetions with ineffable answers, and fills us with awe as it calmly disdains to destroy us.

The German text is perfect, but MacIntyre's translation is splendid and best conveys the work's haunting and desolate undertones. While it seems to me that everyone should own and cherish the Duino Elegies, it is an absolute requirement for anyone seeking to construct a serious collection of great poetry.

Angel-Food Cake - with a twist  Jun 4, 2000
Rilke's poetry (to the extent the translation reflects it - which I am not competent to judge) is light, loose and flowing with an undercurrent of existential disturbance that invites the reader to "think" beyond the lightly-resting beauty of the text and grapple with the psychological, epistemological and philosophical questions he raises. I tend to enjoy poetry a great deal - even bland poets are enjoyable to me - so my sense of the poetic value of this translation is not necessarily a valid source for other readers. However, while his verse's attractiveness is important to my valuation of this work, what impressed me more was the depth Rilke had managed to cram into such short, elegant poems. I recommend the work if only for the exercise of matching wits with Rilke's existential concerns.

Kelly Whiting

awe-ful...  May 27, 2000
Considered the quintessence of Rilke's work, the Elegies invite the reader into conversations with chasms of despair and angels of light... and don't forget: "Every angel is terrible."

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