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Letters to Benvenuta Rainer Maria Rilke

Letters to Benvenuta

Rainer Maria Rilke

Published
ISBN : 9780802213488
Hardcover
87 pages
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 About the Book 

to ll5envenuta, BY r ainer With a Foreword by Louis Untermeyer i PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY NEW YORK Copyright, 1951, by THE PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY, INC. 15 East 40th Street, New York 16, N. Y. Translated from the original German So lass ich mich zuMoreto ll5envenuta, BY r ainer With a Foreword by Louis Untermeyer i PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY NEW YORK Copyright, 1951, by THE PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY, INC. 15 East 40th Street, New York 16, N. Y. Translated from the original German So lass ich mich zu Trdumen gehen by Heinz Norden PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA MAGDA VON HATTINGBERG RAINER MARIA RILKE CONTENTS A Foreword BY LOUIS UNTERMEYER i Preface BY RUDOLF VON JOUANNE 7 ff A Note From Benvenuta 13 The Letters 15 ILLUSTRATIONS Portrait of Rainer Maria Rilke Frontispiece Portrait of Magda von Hattingberg Frontispiece Facsimile of an original letter by Rilke Facing page 14 A FOREWORD It was in January, 1914, that Rainer Maria Rilke received his first letter from a Viennese correspond ent who had discovered his little collection of stories, Geschichten vom lieben Gott Tales of the dear Lord God , and had fallen in love with them. A sudden, intense, and even feverish ex change of letters followed, a correspondence which inevitably brought together the poet and the woman hitherto unknown to him. Rilke was going on forty. Separated from his wife, he was physically ill and mentally depressed, fearing the loss of his creative power, alternately dreading and desiring a self-determined isolation. She was many years younger, a concert pianist of no small repute. She, too, was alone her early marriage had ended in a divorce, and she was seeking for something, or someone, mortal yet beyond the flesh. In Rilke she found not a man but an apparition, a super-earthly LETTERS TO BENVENUTA saint, a visionary Fra Angelico at their first meet ing she thought He has come by a miracle to our poor earth and me 5 The woman, Magda von Hattingberg, told the story of that strange attachment and the short but dramatic association in Rilke and Benvenuta W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1949 , a revealing volume which she subtitled A Book of Thanks. The quasi-narrative of that book is amplified and enriched in Letters to Benvenuta, a series of letters written by Rilke during his second sojourn in Paris. Rilke had traveled restlessly from Prague, where he was born, through the military schools of Moravia to Germany Russia, where he met Tolstoy and attended the Pushkin festivals Denmark, because of his great admiration for the Danish novelist, Jens Peter Jacobsen France, where he lived with Rodin. Then, after the break with Rodin and during Rilkes dry period, he journeyed to Tunis, Algiers, Biskra, the Nile, which affected him deeply Cairo, where he had a three weeks serious attack of sickness north to Venice, to be watched over by the Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe, who installed him in the ancient castle at Duino near Trieste on the LETTERS TO BENVENUTA Adriatic then Spain, where his illness overcame him again then, in 1913, back to Paris. It was in Paris that there began the extraordinary correspondence which is disclosed in this book. To be more exact, only half of it is here Magda von Hattingberg, rechristened Benvenuta by Rilke, has withheld the letters which prompted the poets introspective and far-reaching replies but the por tion reprinted is of inestimable value as a supple ment to what we know about the author of the im mensely popular The Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke and the profoundly moving Duino Elegies. Here, as in the poetry, Rilke writes not only on two levels statement and suggestion, observation magnified by imagination but on many levels of consciousness swiftly and simulta neously. Sometimes the writing is placid and even happy sometimes it is full of tortured apprehension the letters were composed daily, often several a day they floated serenely from his musing mind or hurtled out of the depths of his troubled spirit. The record is tantalizingly brief...