A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke

Donald Prater, Author Oxford University Press, USA $29.95 (486p) ISBN 978-0-19-815755-7
Rilke wanted to live for his writing alone; he felt that the means to create ita decent income, pleasant surroundingsshould be given to him. Lucky breaks and sporadic patronage enabled him to survive on his own terms, renounce his wife and chlid and do nothing but write. Prater maintains that Rilke's poetry is essentially narcissistic and personal despite its cosmic allusionsa welcome corrective view that will be shared by many. According to Prater, Rilke hid behind an ideal self; the women who loved and mothered him, the friends so eager to help him, were far from knowing the real man. This lively yet somehow impersonal biography contains no literary criticism. Instead, it focuses on Rilke's constant existential crises, his relationship with the women whom he tended to idealize, his wanderings through Europe and search for fame, all of which are refracted through previously unpublished letters as well as testimonials. As the somber story of a poet who ultimately found no relationship with the outside world, this demythologizing biography is revealing, but one puts it down feeling that a large part of the picture is missing. (April 3)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1986
Release date: 06/01/1986
Paperback - 506 pages - 978-0-19-815891-2
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