I hope not, anyway. For someone who is so scared of death it is rather perverse, or certainly absurd, that I spend so much of my time amongst the dead, instead of engaging with the world around me. I imagined that outside there, there still might be something that belonged to me, even now, even in this sudden poverty of dying. But scarcely had I looked thither when I wished the window had been barricaded, blocked up, like the wall. For now I knew that things were going on out there in the same indifferent way, that out there, too, there was nothing but my loneliness. The Notebooks, however, contains none of that.
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Even his most astute English translator, J. Such background might have addressed the inevitable questions that longtime readers of the poetry might ask: What aesthetic problems in his poetry might have led Rilke to fiction? Did the novel alter his poetics?
They had one child named Ruth. The lonely scion of a diminished Danish aristocratic family, he is by turns passive, hyper-sensitive, and self-pitying. Haunted by lost hierarchies and traditions, Malte resorts to wandering the dirty, congested French capital. As if composing cycles for a fugue, Malte writes of memories and fictions, exteriors and interiors, luminous strangers and lost guardians, mirrored reflections and ghostly visitations, sudden music and sustained silences.
Yet the novel is less about the depiction of a self in society than the construction of a newer existence within the gesture of writing itself. The drama is inextricably textual. This surrender is most poignantly on display when Malte recalls and re-creates scenes from his troubled childhood and from his tireless readings. Another instant and everything will have lost its meaning, and this table, and the cup, and the chair he is gripping tightly, all the everyday and closest things, will have become incomprehensible, alien and heavy.
Death, he learns, is only one facet of the ubiquitous unknown in which we confront our daily being. The immutability of things need not induce morbidity. Shaking off residual solipsistic tendencies, he learns how to distance himself from his own being and from God. Through a re-examination of the lives and stories of distinctive women—his mother, Gaspara Stampa, the Portuguese nun—he re-conceptualizes love as a form of harrowing grace. Not surprisingly, he lyrically charts these inner changes through recitations of medieval and courtly romances.
The second half of the novel develops this existential-mystical vision of love, distilled by a brilliant re-telling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Still ahead was the consternation of discovering how difficult this language was. Click here to purchase this book at your local independent bookstore.
THE NOTEBOOKS OF MALTE LAURIDS BRIGGE
Even his most astute English translator, J. Such background might have addressed the inevitable questions that longtime readers of the poetry might ask: What aesthetic problems in his poetry might have led Rilke to fiction? Did the novel alter his poetics? They had one child named Ruth. The lonely scion of a diminished Danish aristocratic family, he is by turns passive, hyper-sensitive, and self-pitying.
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
Here I sit in my little room, I, Brigge, who have got to be twenty-eight years old and about whom no one knows. I sit here and am nothing. And yet this nothing begins to think and thinks, up five flights of stairs, these thoughts on a gray Paris afternoon: Is it possible, this nothing thinks, that one has not yet seen, recognized, and said anything real and important? Yes, it is possible.