Mõtisklusi Rilkest. Some Considerations Regarding Rilke.


  • Mari Tarvas




Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet from Prague, has been deemed one of the most innovative Germanspeaking poets of the 20th century. On the other hand, doubts have been expressed about his inclusion among proponents or practitioners of aesthetic modernism. These judgments rest both on differing interpretations of the concept of the modern age and of Rilke’s own works. Images of Rilke range from an oversensitive, lonesome (religious) author who barely managed to cope with the world and who sang of desolate lovers, to an author who through his hermetic works engaged in criticism of civilisation and technology. In fact, Rilke is among the most mythologized of German authors. In this article some aspects of these contradictory images are investigated, both in current popular discourse as well as that of Rilke’s contemporaries. Specific foci for the analysis are the reception of Rilke’s text ”Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke” and the reception of his poetry in Estonia. Although Rilke’s development can be regarded in parallel with the Young Estonia movement – as, for example, in the shifting of his interests at the turn of the 20th century from the Russian and German cultural fields to the French and Scandinavian, the accent and context of these shifts are significantly different. We can already find attempts at discussion and translation of poetry from Rilke in the context of Young Estonia; however the literary group was significantly more influenced by such German poets like Peter Altenberg and Stefan George. The real adoption of Rilke’s work takes place later, first and foremost in connection with Marie Under and Artur Adson. While the early adoption concentrates upon the earlier books of poems, later generations will extend the Rilke picture through adoption and translation of his late lyrical work and his novel Malte Laurids Brigge.


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