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Rilke and Andreas-Salomé: A Love Story in Letters Paperback – June 17, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From The New Yorker

When Rilke first met Salomé in 1897, he was twenty-one, an aspiring poet, and she was a married woman of thirty-six who had published a multitude of books and essays on philosophical and literary subjects.Their correspondence was initially one-sided—Rilke, besotted, sent a torrent of mail, while Salomé wished she could make him "go completely away" - but the two developed a passionate partnership as friends, lovers, confidants, and counsellors. This collection of some two hundred letters, written over nearly three decades, enriches our picture of Rilke and Salomé with curious details: Rilke makes arrangements for Salomé's beloved dog, in advance of a visit; Salomé, practicing in mid-life as a psychoanalyst, claims success treating patients with Rilke's poems: "They heard your tone as that of Life."
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker - click here to subscribe. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (June 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393331903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393331905
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By D. Laurie on July 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
There is no reviewing correspondence. There is present either only the (inevitably) voyueristic pleasure of gazing into dead mens dreams, or nothing at all, at which point we set the book down, and carry on composing our own secrets.
But the idea of positing a critical eye on one's letters (unless they are means exclusive of a recepient, as with Seneca) seems to me to be entirely ridiculous.
I can only say that I was happy to the point of giddiness to discover the recently published letters between Rilke and Andreas-Salome.
I devoured the book whole, and found myself inspired by Rilke's early uncertanties, and the almost frighteningly composed replies of his one time lover, now become mentor. It offered a glimpse into the world of this beautiful poet, who previously, seemed to have sprung fully formed into the author of the Duino Elegies, as though he were always the master we have come to admire.
And here, beset by dread, here overcome by an almost childish enthusiasm, we find him not stripped of his title rather enriched by his likeness to ourselves. And it's as though we always sensed beneath the richness of his language a kinship we could never adaquetely define, here at last the inexplicable is made manifest.
I do not speak to Andreas-Salome, she does not move me, but she was a freind of Rilke's and therefore deserves at least our respect.
If you are curious about the genesis and flowering of a poet, you will find no better testament than this collection, and much like the Memoirs of Pablo Neruda, you will find in the simplest relation, a poetry unto itself.
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Being that this was one of my impulse purchases, I was surprised when I found myself still awake at 4am pouring over the pages, unable to put it down. Rilke invites the reader (Lou Salome) into his innermost thoughts and psyche in such a visceral and eloquent way. You begin to often see yourself in his words and it sends your mind racing. This alone would be enough. But having it countered by Lou's (often paradigm-shifting) deep understanding and almost clinical input - it makes for one of the most intellectual and enlightened dialogues of the 20th century.

This book can feed your soul, if you let it.
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Rilke lends the same exquisite clarity and rapture to romantic love as he does to his brilliantly tender hearted observations of the spirit.
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Monumental. Desperate. Full of grace, wisdom, joy. Maybe God gave Rilke Lou but Lou sustained Rilke for the rest of us.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow!! It lets you inside so much intimacy and thoughts. A great read and an interesting learning experience.
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