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Letters to a Young Poet Paperback – May 4, 2009


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Frequently Bought Together

Letters to a Young Poet + Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations + The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (English and German Edition)
Price for all three: $30.32

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: BN Publishing (May 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607960265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607960263
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Some books really don't need much more explaining then to say: READ IT!
Jerry G. Prochazka
You have to be neither young nor a poet to appreciate the beautifully candid wisdom Rilke doles out in these letters.
S. A. Winkler
He rightly challenges us that to attain anything of value it must come with devotion and sacrifice.
Brian S. Reed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Lewis Hyde on September 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Rilke's letters to Franz Kappus were written between 1903 and 1908. They were first published in German in 1929. In 1934 H. D. Herter Norton produced the first English translation (revised by her in 1954). The second English translation that I know of was done by Reginald Snell in 1945 and published in London by Sidgwick and Jackson. The edition being offered here is the Snell translation--only his name and the original publication data have been stripped from the book. (Other than that, the book is essentially a photocopy of the 1945 edition.)

The publisher here is "BN Publishing" which I assume means "Barnes & Noble" (although the "about us" link on their website says almost nothing about them!).

The Snell translation seems to me quite adequate. Here is a sample of one sentence done by three translators:

"And this more human love...will resemble that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, the love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other." -- H. D. Herter Norton (1934)

"And this more human love...will be something like that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, the love which consists in the mutual guarding, bordering and saluting of two solitudes." -- Reginald Snell (1945)

"And this more human love... will resemble what we are now preparing painfully and with great struggle: the love that consists in this: that two solitudes protect and border and greet each other." -- Stephen Mitchell (1984)

Of these three, the Norton seems to me to have the best cadence, but beyond that Rilke's sense is present in all.

One does wonder, however, why BN Publishing felt free to erase this book's origins.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kimarie Torre on July 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
-Whenever I feel the weight of the world upon my shoulders...
-Whenever I'm overwhelmed by the noise, violence and sorrows of the world...
-Whenever I am deceiving my true nature...
-Whenever I lose touch with my artistic spirit...

I reach for this book and it helps me find my way back to that quiet place inside, reminding me that 'feeling' alone is not the same as 'being' alone and that our solitude is a gift.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ben on February 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is probably my favorite book (or whatever you'd like to call it - thing between two covers) of all time. I can't recommend it enough.

That said, the Kindle version is indefensibly poorly-done. There are paragraph breaks, and that's the extent of its formatting. The book should be outstandingly simple to format correctly. It's an introduction followed by ten letters. However, this version simply runs together, making it difficult to read and parse through. Purchase the physical version. You'll be glad you did.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ximena Garcia on February 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It seems to me a bit awkward and out of place to either rate this book or review it. There is no such thing as "a ranking" over such work. RMR has a talent some will see and others will not. His talent is to plainly materialize into words the deepest questions and interests one may manifest over existence. The ideas and principles he expresses in these 10 letters to Mr. Kappus (the "young poet") may serve as a reference for anyone who has ever thought why we are here and what is there to do because of it. Again, some will see the point, others will find it void. What I like about RMR is that -as a writer- he touches philosophy, psychology, literature, and poetry without any particular body of study, except his own intuition and inner voice. If we could all be in contact with our inner self to that extent, we may even decide according to our best.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca M on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are works that surface time and time again in cultural circles, in film, literature, music, etc. One of these is Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. The young poet, Franz Xaver Kappus, is unremarkable in this set of letters as we never see the poems he sent to Rilke, nor do we see his end of the correspondence. Yet, what Kappus realizes, and so too the reader, is that his offerings are absolutely unnecessary because we see them through Rilke's eyes. Rilke readily assumes the mantle of humble mentor, dispensing pearls of wisdom in a language that teaches the young Kappus that not all poetry is written in stanzas.

One wonders if Rilke was indeed writing to the world. His replies to Kappus are lofty but sincere, and filled with passages that seem destined for quotation:

"Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer."

For Rilke, bite-size gifts of mature sophistry (in the Classical sense of the word) will not suffice. In these letters to Kappus, Rilke seizes the opportunity to work out his own philosophy through provocative and probing questions. We learn that Kappus, during the course of his military service, has lost faith in God, and Rilke asks him, "Is it not much rather the case that you have never yet possessed him? ... Do you believe a child can hold him, him whom men bear only with difficulty, whose weight bows down on the aged?" Rilke is ready to be not only a literary mentor, but a theological counselor.
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