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Rilke and Andreas-Salomé: A Love Story in Letters [Paperback]

Rainer Maria Rilke , Lou Andreas-Salomé , Edward Snow , Michael Winkler
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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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.

From Booklist

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. John
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"These newly and brilliantly translated diaries chart the early years... [and] have the fascination of all early self-portraits." Tom Otley, Literary Review "The diary reveals an extraordinarily precocious, but also precious, mind...." Jamie McKendrick, Independent on Sunday "This book is an act of creeping self-discovery: one which begins in clogged and densely self-regarding prose, and ends within sight of the glorious clarity of his later and greater works." Michael Glover, The Daily Telegraph" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is considered one of the greatest poets who ever wrote in the German language. His most famous works are Sonnets to Orpheus, The Duino Elegies, Letters to a Young Poet, and The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. His collected work is comprised of hundreds of other poems, essays, plays, and stories.

Lou Andreas-Salomé (1861–1937) is an important figure in the lives of many Western thinkers and artists. A Russian-born psychoanalyst and author, her diverse interests led to influential relationships with an array of intellectuals, including Nietzsche, Freud, and Rilke.

Edward Snow is an award-winning translator of the poetry and prose of Rilke. He is a professor at Rice University and lives in Houston, Texas.

Michael Winkler has written extensively on modern poetry and fiction. He is a professor at Rice University and lives in Houston, Texas.
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