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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a Rilke I can love!, June 25, 2011
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This review is from: A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke (Hardcover)
A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke is one of those names that have kept coming up for me in my reading through the years, like Jung or Blake, one of those touchstone names.

Off and on I've tried reading Rilke in various translations (I don't read German). I own 8 or 10 books on him. I dip a toe or a foot in, but have found him a singularly difficult poet to like and enjoy. Impressive maybe, but generally cold and imposing, with a strange, Teutonic, convoluted syntax.

I happened on Joanna Macy and Anita Barrow's translation of Rilke's "Book of Hours" and liked it, was intrigued with it, but it's one short volume. When this volume came out, I hemmed and hawed about spending the money on such a doubtful chance, but in fact this book has proven a pleasure and even a treasure.

I cannot speak to the translation's "accuracy." Some Amazon reviewers have had issues with the looseness of this translation. For accuracy, Stephen Mitchell's is the standard, although the intricacies of Rilke's originals are legend. But Mitchell's translation has never warmed me. (So, of course the present volume isn't organized for students.)

But this Macy-Barrow verse is a real pleasure to read. It is written in free verse with a clear and slightly --enjoyably-- feminine warmth to it.

And essentially, it lets me see clearly the depths of Rilke's spirituality. Independent of religious traditions, Rilke, I see now for myself, saw profoundly and with great originality into the depths in human matters far and wide.

I thought such a large collection might be too much for me. In fact --now-- I really appreciate the size. The daily excerpts are easily taken in, and I love that I can roam over the great range of this poet's work.

One caveat: future editions would benefit from better paper.

On the other hand, this book makes a lovely gift. Hardcover, the paper jacket has the most beautiful portrait of Rilke I have ever seen (painted by Boris Pasternak's father on Rilke's trip to Russia). Clearly this book is a labor of love.

A wonderful gift to me, and I imagine to others who have stumbled in reading him.

Warmly recommended.
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