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Letters to a Young Poet [Hardcover]

by Rainer Maria Rilke, Joan M. Burnham, Kent Nerburn
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 7, 2000 1577311558 978-1577311553 2nd
These have been called the most famous and beloved letters of the 20th century. Rainer Maria Rilke himself said that much of his creative expression went into his correspondence, and here he touches upon subjects that will interest writers, artists, and thinkers. Letters to a Young Poet is a classic that should be read by everyone who dreams of expressing themselves creatively. This luminous translation offers inspiration to all people who seek to know and express their inner truth. This edition features a new foreword by Kent Nerburn, author of Small Graces and Letters to My Son.

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 2nd edition (March 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577311558
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577311553
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Artist October 24, 1998
By A Customer
This book first came to my attention when a good friend of mine sent me a quote from it, which has since become my life quote ("Be patient toward everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves..Do not 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")
Since I heard this quote, I tracked down a copy of the book after searching a half dozen bookstores and libraries, and it was worth every minute of work to find it. This book has been put on the highest level of appreciation in my mind, up there with Richard Bach's 'Illusion' and 'One'; my two other favorite books. Rilke's book was written for the artist; the person who wants to live life to its fullest and explore both the inner and outer world and their connections.
Although, as another reviewer said, this book will not be fully appreciated by all readers, it is a must read for everyone, especially those who appreciate spirituality, art and living.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eternal wisdom should be shared with everyone September 17, 1998
A very good friend gave this book to me as I was struggling to find myself during my early college years. I was instantly amazed at how a book written over ninety years ago could be so precisely helpful to the many questions I was suffering with at the time. Rilke introduced me to the concept of solitude as a blessing. This idea has truly changed my life for the better as I have taken the time to step away from life and look inside for the answers I seek. If I had one gift to give someone I truly cared about, it would be this masterpiece. Although the contents of this book can not be appreciated by everyone, I challenge all to read it and see if it sparks the fire in them that it has brought to me.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This is my third encounter with This collection of letters written by Rilke to a young poet who sought his guidance and approval a century ago. The first edition or translation I believe is the best with this new edition being my last out of the three editions I know. The translator, who saught to make Rilke's word accessible to the readers of todays world , in so doing took away some of the poetic fluency from his letters .Such as letter eight where it goes" How should we forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons who at the last minute turn into princeses? Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is something helpless who wants our help. You must not be frightend if a sorrow rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen, if a restiveness like light and cloud shadows passes over your hands and over all you are doing. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hands. It will not let you fall". This is the version of this passage from letter eight that I remember and have shared with my loved ones ever since I discovred these letters years ago when I thought someone could use some hopeful words and needed uplifting and not the ones from this new edition that has lost some of its poetic magic and moved people for generations. I will have to agree with one other reviewer who said that this book is good if you want a keepsake of this classic collection of letters but if you want them to move you seek another version.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter I wrote my friend upon sending this book: September 25, 1999
Erin, I'm sitting in my corner room which is a horrendous mess currently. But if I look out of the windows a certain way, I feel as though I'm looking over the iron balconies of Paris in the twenties. Which is rather nice. I've been reading voraciously the past few days, and I want to send you a book. It expresses things about religion, about solitude, about sex, about life, which strike a chord inside me, creating a real harmony. The writer has a way of causing in me that feeling when I can't remember a word, but it's on the tip of my tongue. I understand the essence of the word, but I can't place the actual thing. It escapes me. Then someone relieves me by coming up with precisely that word. (Perhaps after days of torture.) It's a jubilant occurance when I pronunce it. The comfort of matching name with thing. This writer brings me this relief about all the lost musings of my life. He puts perfectly into words a combination of philosophies, and his writing resonates with that absolute truth which transcends the individual. I think you'll like. Auf wiedersehen. Love, Lauren
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor translation. August 1, 2000
By A Customer
First, let me say Rilke is one of my favorite poets. That being said...I was greatly disappointed in this translation. There are sections where it seems the translator simply grabbed a thesaurus or perhaps a German to English phrase book and in turn does not do Rilke justice. If you have read or are interested in reading LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET, I highly recommend the translation by Stephen Mitchell. Simply put, his is the best there is. Enjoy!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encouragement and Commitment for a Writer's Life October 5, 2006
Letters to a Young Poet

by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Joan M. Burnham)

Published: New World Library.

Number of Pages: 95, plus additional 18 pages of text, including Forward, Introduction,

About the Author, About the Translator, and Recommended Reading Lists

Year Published: 2000

Price: $15.00

Widely available at large and niche book stores and on-line (ISBN - 1-57731-155-8)

Ideal Audience: The most profound impact of this lovely little book will be on serious writers who want wise counsel, reassurance, and encouragement to pursue the writing life. That having been said, there is enough substantive content that, properly presented, the book could be a useful tool for creative writing teachers at the accelerated high school level or above.

Brief Summary: Rilke was a Czechoslovakian poet of some note in his lifetime (1875-1926) who in his late twenties and early thirties exchanged letters with a younger poet, the now nearly-unknown Franz Xaver Kappus, who sent Rilke some of his work for comment. The book contains 10 of Rilke's letters, edited and translated from the original German, from that correspondence. Dated over a period of five years, the letters evolve from providing general advice on literary devices (such as the use of irony), to opinions on topics related to writing, including the value of others' criticisms, to philosophizing on the virtues of solitary work, the uses of adversity, and the impact of building a life around one's art. As one would expect from a poet, Rilke's observations are intensely personal, heartfelt, and beautifully written (subject to the caveat of their having been read only in translation).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Advice to a young poet that is his own credo
The depth the beauty and the wondrous metaphorical and poetical power of Rilke pervade this work. He is speaking to the young poet but one feels he is really saying what he himself... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shalom Freedman
5.0 out of 5 stars Want a guideline for life
No matter the date it has been written it molds to anyones lifestyle and what they want to accomplish. Great book.
Published 1 month ago by Gerald M. Zidak Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars especially for creatives & contemplatives
I learned the importance of translation while enjoying many of Edith Grossman's beautiful reworkings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' books from Spanish into English. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rock Conner
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary reading?
Great read! Probably essential if you're trying to find your artistic voice. Apparently I need eight more words to submit this review.
Published 5 months ago by R. Cordovi
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is the actor's handbook!
I'm so glad that I got a hold of this book, one of my teacher's recommended this book and I'm so glad to have it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Christine
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom
I've picked this book up and meandered through it many times since it came last month. It holds depth and wisdom which could benefit everyone.
Published 15 months ago by Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I absolutely adore this book and I highly recommend it to everyone. This book provides great inspiration for writers of poetry, narrative, or any other type if artist. Read more
Published 18 months ago by switchcat
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
An incomparable text in the history of European letters. Rilke's letters to a young man who is contemplating military service, are a testament to the poetic spirit. Read more
Published on July 25, 2011 by Steiner
3.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped
I bought Rilke's "Letters...." based on the glowing reviews and accolades on Amazon. While there is much to be said for the book -- it has a gentle, nurturing, comforting tone to... Read more
Published on April 7, 2011 by First Things First
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely worth the buy
I've never read such a thin book with an immense amount of thought-provoking material in it.

It's intense, it's soul-finding.
Published on September 30, 2010 by Noc
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