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The enduring power of Rainer Maria Rilkes 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 Baers The Rilke Alphabet examines this promise by one of the greatest poets in any tradition that even the smallest
overlooked word may unlock lifes mysteries to us.
Fueled by an unebbing passion and indeed love for Rilkes poetry, Baer examines twenty-six words that are not only unexpected but also problematic, controversial, and even scandalous in Rilkes work. In twenty-six mesmerizing essays that eschew jargon and teutonic learnedness for the pleasures and risks of unflinchingly engaging with a great artists genius, Baer sheds new light on Rilkes politics, his creative process, and his deepest and enduring thoughts about life, art, politics, sexuality, love, and death.
The Rilke Alphabet shows how Rilkes 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, Rilkes writings pull us deeply into life.
Baers decades-long engagement with Rilke as a scholar, translator, and editor of Rilkes writings allows him to reveal unique aspects of Rilkes work. The Rilke Alphabet will surprise and delight Rilke fans, intrigue newcomers to his work, and deepen every readers sense of the power of poetry to penetrate the mysteries and confusions of our world.
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