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The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 22, 2005

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The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke + A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke + Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

One of the best-known twentieth-century poets, Rilke is many things to many people: poet of solitude; poet of the misunderstood; above all, patron saint of adolescent angst. As early as the 1920s, critics ravaged his poetry as being read primarily by young girls and old maids. His work endured, however, to be embraced by contemporary pop culture, so that his words are recited in movies, at weddings, and during graduation ceremonies. Editor-translator Baer suggests treating this selection of Rilke as a user's manual for life, especially when something meaningful needs to be said. The book is arranged thematically, and those themes are numerous, ranging from work and art to faith and goodness to love and death. Besides familiar lines, Baer presents excerpts from Rilke's approximately 7,000 letters, translated for the first time into English from their original German and French. For anyone who admires Rilke and the timeless profundity of his messages, and for those who seek an introduction to his worldview, this is an indispensable resource. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

Advance praise for The Poet’s Guide to Life

“Most Western wisdom writers exalt renunciation rather than desire. Rilke is almost Asian in his differences from Goethe, Nietzsche, Freud. For him, eros is not the wisdom of fools and the folly of the wise. Nor does he, like Plato’s Socrates, climb the ladder of love toward the Good. Ulrich Baer uniquely makes available Rilke’s bittersweet apprehensions of the objective realities-of-desire, and of the consequent, triumphantly knowing poetics-of-loss.”
Harold Bloom, author of Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? and The Western Canon

“Rilke longed to be a worker, and in one autobiographical poem he described his face as that of someone who serves. Like Dante he believed that love is the animating force in the universe–though Rilke’s quest took him, not toward the stars, but back to the earth, to the unnoticed miracle of things precisely as they are. Professor Baer’s book is the best of its kind I have ever encountered. It is clearly and elegantly translated and arranged, an inspired gift to a world in terrible need of Rilke’s grave and joyful vision.”
Franz Wright, author of Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry

“This thematic selection from the vast trove of Rilke’s letters and papers reveals an unfamiliar side of the poet that broadens and deepens the range of his thought. Professor Baer’s translations are eloquent, and his splendid Introduction is sensitive, thorough, and illuminating.”
Burton Pike, professor emeritus of comparative literature at City University of New York, and award-winning translator

“Boy, Rilke is a kook. Reading The Poet’s Guide to Life, I have to say that I love his point of view.”
Gus Van Sant, director of Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho, and many other films
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (March 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679642927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679642923
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a profound and beautiful book. Ulrich Baer, editor and translator of the volume has gone through the more than seven- thousand letters Rilke wrote in his lifetime and selected those he felt had the most to say about living and loving in the world. He orders the letters into sections which begin with his title and are followed by a line from Rilke.

1) On LIfe and Living You have to live life to the limit
2) On Being with others To be a Part, that is Fulfillment for us
3)On Work: Get up Cheerfully on Days You have to Work
4) On Difficulty and Adversity The Measure by which we may know our Strength
5)On Childhood and Education; This Joy in Daily Discovery
6) On Nature It Knows Nothing of Us
7)On Solitude The Lonest People Above all Contribute Most to Commonality
8)On Illness and Recovery Pain Tolerates No Interpretation
9)On Loss, Dying and Death Even Time Does not 'Console' It puts things in Place and creates Order
10) On Language That Vast, Humming and Swinging Syntax
11)On Art Art Presents Itself as a Way of Life
12) On Faith A Direction of the Heart
13) On Goodness and Morality Nothing Good, Once it Has Come into Existence May be Suppressed
14) On Love There is no Force in the World but Love

In his rich repetitive introduction to the volume Baer discusses the special place letter-writing had in Rilke's life and work. Rilke in his letters has a spontaneity and poetic freedom beyond that in his very disciplined and exacting poems. But of course the themes of both forms of writing are common ones, and the letters a source of ideas and inspirations for the Poetry.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Paul Gilbert on April 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How did I live this long without the wisdom of Rilke? Recommended to me by a poet, this unusual volume is really two books in one. Ulrich's Baer's extensive introduction itself is a work of great subtlety and wisdom. He presents Rilke as a complex figure whose romantic image is at variance with his deep commitment to mindfulness and rigorous self-examination. Then there is Rilke himself relentlessly holding us to the originality and delicious upredictability of our fate. Every writer should have this volume in their personal library.
Paul Gilbert, Jr.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A Nagy on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I happen to love reading Rilke. This collection is quite good, and representative of his best work. Some his work reminds me of the contemplative Sufi writer and poet, Rumi. Particularly interesting about Rilke is the period in which he wrote, during the period leading up to and including the great upheavals in European civilization, the rise of communism, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the First World War. His writings become a prelude to Existentialism, while retaining the personal mystical traditions of a vanishing culture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cityfisher on April 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like the extra information about Rilke, his work habits as a writer, and his dedication as an author. Just now at beginning of book but eager to read more.
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