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The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 25, 2009
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"One of the world's most beautiful books."
-"The Philadelphia Inquirer"
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Top Customer Reviews
Rilke read a lot of Nietzsche prior to writing this book, and many of the same themes Nietzsche contemplated in The Gay Science and Thus Spake Zarathustra are reworked by Rilke in this novel. It is my interpretation that Rilke was trying to work out a theory of modern, fragmented, existential subjectivity and then offer some way to make such a life livable. Rilke explores such themes as memory's transience, unpredictability, and instability, the role of a God in a world after the "death of God", and a dissolving of the conceptual categories between the self and the other, or the inside and the outside, all play into this fascinating book.
The book is written in notebook form, which plays into the notion of fragmentary identity and problematic narrative. Entries jump from the past to the present to imagined futures in an often random and chaotic order. There is no "plot" to speak of, although there are bits and pieces of narratives, but nothing sufficient enough to create a comprehensible 'Malte'. All the while, you are in the mind of a character that is trying and failing to make sense of it all (to 'impose' a narrative).
The later Martin Heidegger always lauded Rilke (despite Rilke's being too metaphysical) for being able to express ways of interacting with the world that were non-humanist.Read more ›
I still have my copy, and have gone back to it a number of times in the last 20 years. At one point I read aloud, to my wife, the last section in which Rilke/Malte gives his interpretation of the Prodigal Son story. I didn't know when I began, but it would soon reduce me to tears. So you could say it spoke to me very personally about love and "not wanting to be loved", which is part of his theme about the Prodigal.
A gem of a book, but probably not for everyone...but then, that's true for many books!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The protagonist was a brat, but I enjoyed the book. Beautifully told story.Published 7 months ago by Paloma M
This mArvelous book is not light reading but it is reading with great emotional rewards. It is a companion to the Stories of God, the book of Hours and The Sonnets of Orpheus. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Ray A Burleigh
This is an existentialist must read.
Beautiful, sublime and painterly...
Malte Laurids Brigge is a queer fellow, indeed. Read his notebooks if you have a queer bent of mind, and if you can stomach drifting into the recesses of an uncanny consciousness,... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Pietro Krepompkin
This is a complicated work that operates on a number of levels. It's a vaguely autobiographical take on Rilke's brief time living in Pre-WWI Paris, it's also a contemplation on the... Read morePublished on April 26, 2014 by jafrank
This marvelous little book should be required reading for every adult. It reads like a lyric poem, with a perfect flourish at the end.Published on March 27, 2014 by laura