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The Book of Images: Poems / Revised Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition) Paperback – June 1, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Not quite literal and not quite poetry, these translations arrive on the heels of Snow's version of Rilke's New Poems: The Other Part (1908; LJ 9/1/87). Snow's assertion that Rilke's output needs to be read in the sequences assembled in his lifetime justifies this project, the first complete edition in English, but it begs to be superseded. M.D. Herder Norton, who did not venture the complete Book of Images , remains the most welcoming of Rilke's career translators, while Robert Bly's adaptations are more magical. Snow is most successful in matching the tension in Rilke's poetic line and his calculatedly awkward vocabulary. One finishes this book with the appropriate breathless, disoriented sensation of having read a lot of Rilke. Though "images" were still important at this stage in his development (1902-06), this is already the poet who hears "words which mean nothing certain/ and yet go, go inside the ear, keep going/ into the brain and secretly on the nerve-branches/ through every limb try out leap after leap."-- Rob Schmieder, Boston
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Snow, who so insightfully translated the two volumes of Rilke's New Poems, has now turned to The Book of Images, one of the poet's most startling and diverse masterworks. Snow has rendered with great skill and accuracy a work both familiar and unknown, more complicated and more immediate than many have suspected, at once grave, mysterious, and beautiful. (Edward Hirsch)

How much setting straight Snow's new translation of The Book of Images accomplishes! With these sorrowing and luminous poems to lead up to Snow's two volumes of the New Poems, it is possible to gain, for the first time in English, a consistent perspective of Rilke's difficult canon, here restored and disclosed to stunning effect. (Richard Howard)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; Revised edition (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English, German
  • ISBN-10: 086547477X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865474772
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By J. Rabideau on January 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Rilke is that poet that you, if you are tormented by memories of high-school poetry lessons past (dactylic metre sound vaguely familiar?), ought try. His imagery is accessible, his meaning clear...and he manages simultaneously a beautiful degree of both spiritual and metaphorical richness.

Snow's translations of Rilke's poetry are superb; he consistently preserves the metric structure and is also conscious of the need to employ every word and consider every nuance of meaning, rather than simply settling for glossing it (a surprisingly common problem in poetry translation). In the challenging world of finding faithful poetry translation, Snow's work is outstanding...and the original material to my sense of literary aesthetics unsurpassed...little of Rilke's beauty is sacrificed in the execution of this translation. Rilke's simultaneous spareness, sensitivity, and richness endure here; rather than imposing himself upon the reader, Snow succeeds admirably at the translator's task, and brings Rilke to the English-speaking audience.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Robin on June 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Edward Snow has captured the essential grace of Rilke's poetry without sacrificing faithfulness to the original text. In this book of wonderful and exquisite poems, the lyric genius of Rilke comes through; Snow's own poetic sensibility is also clear. Some of my favorite Rilke poems (such as "Autumn" or "Memory") are rendered here in a way that perfectly suits their quiet, holy sense of both solitude and communion. Read it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Rilke's Book of Images is a wonderful way to enter the world of poetry if you are hesitant because of bad memories of tough English courses in high school or college. Beautiful, powerful and accessible, you will love to sit down and get lost in the language and intensity of this work.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Glenn McDorman on August 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Rilke ranks among the world's greatest poets. Each poem in the Book of Images is an elegant snapshot of a beautiful world. Snow's translation is superb, and he is commonly regarded as the preeminent English translator of Rilke's poetry. This text contains the translation and the original German side-by-side so that readers can gain a better appreciation of Rilke. The Snow translatio of the Book of Images is one of the greatest English-language poetic achievements.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on April 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
There is very little question that Rilke was the greatest German poet of the 20th century. The only question that remains is whether he was the greatest poet in any language. His brief, imaginative poems capture the essence of man in the modern period, alone, isolated, and without meaning.

Edward Snow has captured the grace and subtle imagery of Rilke in this altogether outstanding collection of poems, in large part because he is a great poet in his own right. Readers of Rilke will surely be familiar with a number of poems in this bilingual collection, such as Autumn:

"The leaves are falling, falling as if from far off,

as if the heavens distant gardens withered;

they fall with gestures that say "no."

And in the nights the heavy earth falls

From all the stars into aloneness.

We are falluing. This hand is falling.

And look at the others: it is in them all.

And yet there is One who holds this falling

With infinite softness in his hands." (85).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles O. on February 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any reader (or writer) of translation work knows the inherent difficulties--translation is often something like palimpsest or erasure, the voice of the translator becoming too loud or possibly too literal. There is no such thing as a one to one ratio in translation. What Snow's recent work with Book of Images (and I recommend his other Rilke translations, Sonnets to Orpheus, Duino Elegies) demonstrates is a labor of love: it is almost as if he has acquired Cocteau's radio from Orphée and used it to channel Rilke; I simply have not come across any more appealing translations of Rilke than his. The bilingual edition is important, and I wish all translations would do this (though I understand it can be expensive): the en face provides one the original text as well as the translated, so there exists not only a visual representation of the poetic object, but also enables anyone with a bit of knowledge of the foreign language a way in.

This is a beautiful work.
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