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Overview

The enduring power of Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry rests with his claim that all we need for a better life on earth is already given to us, in the here and now. In twenty-six engaging and accessible essays, Ulrich Baer's The Rilke Alphabet examines this promise by one of the greatest poets in any tradition that even the smallest
overlooked word may unlock life's mysteries to us.
Fueled by an unebbing passion and indeed love for Rilke's poetry, ...
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The Rilke Alphabet

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Overview

The enduring power of Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry rests with his claim that all we need for a better life on earth is already given to us, in the here and now. In twenty-six engaging and accessible essays, Ulrich Baer's The Rilke Alphabet examines this promise by one of the greatest poets in any tradition that even the smallest
overlooked word may unlock life's mysteries to us.
Fueled by an unebbing passion and indeed love for Rilke's poetry, Baer examines twenty-six words that are not only unexpected but also problematic, controversial, and even scandalous in Rilke's work. In twenty-six mesmerizing essays that eschew jargon and teutonic learnedness for the pleasures and risks of unflinchingly engaging with a great artist's genius, Baer sheds new light on Rilke's politics, his creative process, and his deepest and enduring thoughts about life, art, politics, sexuality, love, and death.
The Rilke Alphabet shows how Rilke's work provides an uncannily apt guide to life even in our vexingly postmodern condition. Whether it is a love letter to frogs, a problematic brief infatuation with Mussolini, a sustained reflection on the Buddha, the evasion of the influence of powerful precursors, or the unambiguous assertion that freedom must be lived in order to be known, Rilke's writings pull us deeply into life.
Baer's decades-long engagement with Rilke as a scholar, translator, and editor of Rilke's writings allows him to reveal unique aspects of Rilke's work. The Rilke Alphabet will surprise and delight Rilke fans, intrigue newcomers to his work, and deepen every reader's sense of the power of poetry to penetrate the mysteries and confusions of our world.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Reading Baer's elegant prose is a rare pleasure. Baer's brilliant book The Rilke Alphabet captures the genius of the modern poet and Rilke's intelligence as a witness of modernity—by employing a dazzling device. Baer presents us 26 viewpoints on Rilke's work, 26 perspectives that are vital for anyone who is interesting in the poet's work and in modernism as such. It reads as a real page turner."-Amir Eshel, Stanford University

"Ulrich Baer's The Rilke Alphabet consists of twenty-six free standing essays, each one sending a sort of mine shaft into the densely layered strata of Rilke's poetry, prose, and letters. Each shaft hits a mother lode of rich, surprising, and at times disturbing insight not only into the poet's work and life but also into the cultural history in which they were embedded. The essays, organized by way of an idiosyncratic alphabetization of concepts, names, topics are partial in the best sense: intensely focused on particular points of access into the poet's work and life; infused with partiality, a passionate attachment to that "partial object" that is Rilke's singular voice." — Eric Santner, University of Chicago

"In 'The Rilke Alphabet', which appeared in German in 2006, Baer foes where few Rilke enthusiasts have gone before, tracking echoes of Rilke's difficulties with autoeroticism into the poetry itself. . .Baer this makes good on his promise to 'disturb' our sense of Rilke. . .[equally] instead of pressing to show that Rilke was either a great poet, and basically a good person, or an artist whose work in comprised by his bigotry and political wrong-headedness, Baer provocatively, but also subtly, opens up the discussion." -Time Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823256310
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 3/7/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,320,659
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Ulrich Baer is Vice Provost for Arts, Humanities and Diversity and Professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University. He is editor and translator of Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters of Life, editor of 110 Stories: New York Writes after September 11, and author of several books on poetry and photography. His most recent book is Beggar's Chicken: Stories from Shanghai.

Andrew Hamilton is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Germanic Studies at Indiana University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: The Whole Dictation of Existence

A for Ashanti
B for Buddha
C for Circle
D for Destiny Disrupted
E is for Entrails
F for Frogs
G for God
I for Inca
J for Jew Boy
K for Kafka
L for Larean
M for Mussolini
N for Nature
P for Proletarian
Q for Quatsch
R for Rose
S for Stampa
T for tower
U for Un-
V for Vagabond
W for Worm
X for Xaver
Y for Y
Z for Zero

Works Cited 000
Index 000

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