From Publishers Weekly
With more than twenty-five years of correspondence between "two old scribblers," world-renowned writer Rainer Maria Rilke and his sounding-board, one-time lover, friend and mentor Lou Andreas-Salome, Snow and Winkler have gathered an intimate portrait of an important literary relationship. Unfortunately, a falling-out in 1901 led Andreas-Salome to demand Rilke burn all the letters she had sent to him, which he obliged, making it difficult, in the beginning, to understand the nuance of their romance. As a poet courting an older, married woman, Rilke's early letters are fervid and eager, full of overblown romantic revelations: "all the roses in the world bloom for you and by means of you ... and only through an act of royal condescension do you maintain the pretense that they aren't really yours and allow Spring to keep them." Later, when Andreas-Salome's voice chimes in, the pair settle into a more introspective exchange, one frequently troubled by the insecure poet's vascillation between elation and despondency. Translated into elegant but stiff prose by Snow and Winkler, professors at Rice University who translated Rilke's Diaries of a Young Poet, this work is lustrous and illuminating, a perfect companion for fans of Rilke's poetry and the literary world of the early 20th century. 16 pages of illustrations.
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This is an invaluable collection uniting translations of the entire existing correspondence between the remarkable German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and his psychoanalyst-muse Lou Andreas-Salome. The letters confirm such details as Rilke's name change from Rene to Rainer at Lou's urging, and Lou's involvement with the distinguished turn-of-the-century thinkers Freud and Nietzsche. More importantly, the book offers a fascinating glimpse into a profound 29-year friendship that arced from infatuation to sexual intimacy, frustration to separation, enlightenment to respect. The letters reveal in both tender and insightful prose Rilke's creative and mental insecurities, along with his enormous poetic talent and innovative thinking. To call Andreas-Salome a muse would be to miss her uncanny grasp of Rilke's art, mind, and soul. She often brilliantly verbalized what he was about better than he, anticipating growth and outcomes he seemed unable to envision. Although beginning as mentor and idealized mother figure, Lou developed into a confidant and near-priestly advisor, able to not only appreciate but also tenderly nurture Rilke's creative genius. Janet St. JohnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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