Rainer Maria Rilke is arguably the most important modern German-language poet. His New Poems, Duino Elegies, and Sonnets to Orpheus are pillars of 20th-century poetry. Yet his earlier verse is less known. The Book of Hours, written in three bursts between 1899 and 1903, is Rilke's most formative work, covering a crucial period in his rapid ascent from fin-de-siecle epigone to distinctive modern voice. The poems document Rilke's tour of Russia with Lou Andreas-Salome, his hasty marriage and fathering of a child in Worpswede, and his turn toward the urban modernity of Paris. He assumes the persona of an artist-monk undertaking the Romantics' journey into the self, speaking to God as part transcendent deity, part needy neighbor. The poems can be read simply for their luminous lyricism, captured in Susan Ranson's superb new translation, which reproduces the music of the original German with impressive fluidity. An in-depth introduction explains the context of the work and elucidates its major themes, while the poem-by-poem commentary is helpful to the student and the general reader. A translator's note treating the technical problems of rhythm, meter, and rhyme that the translator of Rilke faces completes the volume. Susan Ranson is the co-translator, with Marielle Sutherland, of Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems (Oxford World's Classics, 2011). Ben Hutchinson is Reader in Modern German at the University of Kent, UK.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 426 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
Whether we see this collection of poems as an example of personal devotional musing or read it as the "seed of Rilke's subsequent development," it is well worth our attention. This is a lively and insightful work of criticism, scholarship, and creative translation. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW One of the pillars of 20th-century poetry, Rilke (1875-1926) was born in Prague, spent his life in Paris, Russia, and Germany, and died and was buried in Switzerland. He merits repeated studies, interpretations, and translations, and this one of his three-volume Stundenbuch (1899, 1901, 1903) is among the finest.... In his thorough introduction, Hutchinson ... casts these poems in a new light, adding depth to them as presented in previous editions. CHOICE [The translator] anticipates the critical reader.and responds creatively to the huge challenge.There are fascinating reflections of the poet-translator on technical matters.as well as rhyme and rhythm.... Ben Hutchinson's introduction and detailed notes provide an academic insight and context. BROWN BOOK The whole collection is newly translated here in fine, faithful versions by Susan Ranson, who captures the sonorities of the verse with apparent ease and handles the difficulties of Rilke's over-fondness for rhyme very judiciously. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT Ranson ... recognizes the ambiguity which pervades the original, and has tried to find a balance between faithfully reproducing ambituigies and "recognizing some duty of clarity to the reader." TRANSLATION AND LITERATURE
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