Rainer Maria Rilke

(December 4th, 1875 – December 29th, 1926)

Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist writing in German. He wrote one novel, several collections of poetry, and volumes of correspondence and is considered a transitional figure between traditional Victorian writing and Modernist writers.

Rilke travelled extensively throughout Europe, to countries that included Russia, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy, before settling in Switzerland. Known primarily for his lyrical contributions to German literature, Rilke also wrote in French.

Some of his works include, Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien), Sonnets to Orpheus (Die Sonette an Orpheus), the semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge), and a collection of ten letters that was published after his death under the title Letters to a Young Poet (Briefe an einen jungen Dichter).

Rilke’s nationality is problematic in modern terms. His native city of Prague is no longer part of the Austria-Hungarian empire (dissolved in 1918) or Bohemia (which is now part of the Czech Republic). He also travelled extensively and eventually settled in Switzerland for the later part of his life. For those reasons, Rilke has been filed under German — the language he primarily wrote in — rather than a region or nationality.

Rainer Maria Rilke is a book author.

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Letters to a Young Poet


Reading correspondence is not quite the same as reading a novel, obviously, but it can be just as valuable when it comes to understanding a writer, their work, literature of the period, or the general customs of the time period. Writers writing about writing can be a very enlightening read. This is a review of Letters to a Young Poet.