Review: Gass and Rilke

Nicole Krauss

Review-Gass-and-RilkeReading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation

William H. Gass

Alfred A. Knopf, $25 (cloth)

Duino Elegies

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Edward Snow

North Point Press/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $20 (cloth)

The story goes like this: It is December, 1911. Rilke, the delicate, gloomy, visionary poet whom the German aristocracy tries in vain to comfort with invitations to their country estates (“If God has any consideration for me,” he complains in a letter, “he should let me find a few rooms in the country where I can rave the way I like”), arrives by chauffeured car at Castle Duino, a stony fortress perched on a bluff above the Adriatic, not far from Trieste. He has come to visit his indulgent friend and patron, Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe, who owns the castle, and together they play at translating Dante’s Vita Nuova (a fitting project for Duino, since Dante supposedly wrote parts of the Divine Comedy there). After the Princess leaves, Rilke stays on alone and, with the staff to care for his every need, is left to concentrate on his own work.

Read the complete review

Another reminder that on September 22 we will be discussing the poetry of Rainier Maria Rilke,(focusing on translations by Stephen Mitchell and J.B. Leishman). See the SCHEDULE PAGE for a list of poems to be featured.

Also on September 22, please bring some suggestions and ideas for topics for 2017. So far, only January is assigned.

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