Paul Stubbs reviews ‘Rilke in Paris’

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RILKE IN PARIS
Maurice Betz (Translated from the French by Will Stone, Hesperus Press, 2012)

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“Rilke, on earth, lived a life akin to a pre-natal being, one whose sensations in existence remained as homogenous and pure as his time spent in the womb. He rejected birth and death as a consequence for existence, determining that this paradox was the reason behind which he would discover the absolute, i.e. through his own modifications of reality. Jean-Paul Sartre writing of Kierkegaard said ‘The beginning of the thinker’s existence is analogous to a birth. This is not a rejection but a displacement of the beginning. Before birth there was non-being; then comes the leap…’. Every morning in Paris, amid the ash-heaps of dreams, Rilke awoke to the metaphysical and limbless stump of his own still absent body. He saw the world as if between the parenthesis of each new death, whether one of his own or that of another human being.” (Paul Stubbs)

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Rilke in Paris

Rilke in Paris
by Maurice Betz, translated from the French by Will Stone, Hesperus Press, 2012

In the summer of 1902, a young unknown German-language poet named Rainer Maria Rilke, arrived in Paris with the intention of writing a monograph on the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin. From then on, Paris proved both a reliable base and an irresistible source of inspiration for Rilke. He was by turns arrested, appalled, tormented and inspired by the raw reality of the Parisian street, and the life he witnessed there gradually entered his writings, prefigured by prodigious letters and notes. These formed the basis of his prose masterpiece The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, published in 1910. Maurice Betz was Rilke’s foremost translator into French and knew the poet personally. In 1941 he published an insightful essay around Rilke’s artistic relationship with Paris, concentrating on the fascinating and difficult evolution of The Notebooks. Already translated into other European languages, Rilke in Paris is now available in English translation for the first time.

http://www.hesperuspress.com/Web/pages/bookdetails.aspx?bid=673

http://www.europeanbookshop.com/blog/194

Journeys by Stefan Zweig

Journeys by Stefan Zweig
(translated by Will Stone, Hesperus Press, october 2010)

The first English translation of Zweig’s writings on his travels in Europe. Representing a lifetime’s observations, this collection can be dipped into or savoured at length, and paints a rich and sensitive picture of Europe before the Second World War. For the insatiably curious Zweig, travel was both a necessary cultural education and a personal balm for the depression he experienced when rooted in one place for too long. He spent much of his life weaving between the countries of Central Europe, visiting authors and friends, exploring the continent in the heyday of international rail travel.

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