In 1902, a nineteen-year-old aspiring poet named Franz Kappus wrote to Rilke, then twenty-six, seeking advice on his poetry. Kappus, a student at a military academy in Vienna similar to the one Rilke had attended, was about to embark on a career as an officer, for which he had little inclination. Touched by the innocence and forthrightness of the ...
In 1902, a nineteen-year-old aspiring poet named Franz Kappus wrote to Rilke, then twenty-six, seeking advice on his poetry. Kappus, a student at a military academy in Vienna similar to the one Rilke had attended, was about to embark on a career as an officer, for which he had little inclination. Touched by the innocence and forthrightness of the student, Rilke responded to Kappus' letter and began an intermittent correspondence that would last until 1908. Letters to a Young Poet collects the ten letters that Rilke wrote to Kappus. A book often encountered in adolescence, it speaks directly to the young. Rilke offers unguarded thoughts on such diverse subjects as creativity, solitude, self-reliance, living with uncertainty, the shallowness of irony, the uselessness of criticism, career choices, sex, love, God, and art. Letters to a Young Poet is, finally, a life manual. Art, Rilke tells the young poet in his final letter to him, is only another way of living. With the same artistry that marks his widely acclaimed translations of Kafka's The Castle and Amerika: The Missing Person, Mark Harman captures the lyrical and spiritual dimensions of Rilke's prose. In his introduction, he provides biographical contexts for the reader and discusses the challenges of translating Rilke. This lovely hardcover edition makes a perfect gift for any young person starting out in life or for those interested in finding a clear articulation of Rilke's thoughts on life and art.
This book is really inspirational! As an artist, it really helped me see things in myself I never knew were there, and to connect more with my subconcious. If you enjoy this book, also engage yourself in another quick, but wonderful read, "Letters to a Young Artist." It's more current, and set up in the same fashion, just speaks to a the visual crowd.
Aug 16, 2007
Robert Duncan Praised This Book
Robert Duncan, the San Francisco poet, praised Rilke to the skies in his graduate seminar Advanced Poetry workshop (English 204) at San Francisco State in the spring of 1965. Following Robert's lead, this book became my daily companion the entire spring. I was working in the UC Berkeley library and would sneak off into a cubicle in the stacks during breaks and lunch hours to devour Letters to a Young Poet. Highly recommended for young (and older!) writers.
Jul 26, 2007
Solace in solitude
This book pulled me through during my spells of depression. Rilke speaks with utmost warmth and sincerity that is so much akin to a friend. Here are some excerpts from the book.
"Things aren't so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered"
"You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
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