|Who is it?||Poet & Novelist|
|Birth Day||December 04, 1875|
|Birth Place||Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary, Austrian|
|Age||144 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||29 December 1926(1926-12-29) (aged 51)\nMontreux, Vaud, Switzerland|
He was born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke in Prague, capital of Bohemia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now part of the Czech Republic). His childhood and youth in Prague were not especially happy. His father, Josef Rilke (1838–1906), became a railway official after an unsuccessful military career. His mother, Sophie (“Phia”) Entz (1851–1931), came from a well-to-do Prague family, the Entz-Kinzelbergers, who lived in a house on the Herrengasse (Panská) 8, where René also spent many of his early years. The relationship between Phia and her only son was coloured by her mourning for an earlier child, a daughter who had died only one week old. During Rilke's early years Phia acted as if she sought to recover the lost girl through the boy by dressing him in girl's clothing. His parents' marriage failed in 1884. His parents pressured the poetically and artistically talented youth into entering a military academy in St. Pölten, Lower Austria, which he attended from 1886 until 1891, when he left owing to illness. He moved to Linz, where he attended trade school. Expelled from school in May 1892, the 16-year-old prematurely returned to Prague. From 1892 to 1895 he was tutored for the university entrance exam, which he passed in 1895. Until 1896 he studied literature, art history, and philosophy in Prague and Munich.
Quoting Susan Haskins: “It was Rilke's explicit belief that Christ was not Divine, was entirely human, and deified only on Calvary, expressed in an unpublished poem of 1893, and referred to in other poems of the same period, which allowed him to portray Christ's love for Mary Magdalen, though remarkable, as entirely human.”
In 1897 in Munich, Rainer Maria Rilke met and fell in love with the widely travelled, intellectual woman of letters Lou Andreas-Salomé. Rilke changed his first name from “René” to “Rainer” at Lou's urging because she thought that name to be more masculine, forceful, and Germanic. His relationship with this married woman, with whom he undertook two extensive trips to Russia, lasted until 1900. But even after their separation, Lou continued to be Rilke's most important confidante until the end of his life. Having trained from 1912 to 1913 as a psychoanalyst with Sigmund Freud, she shared her knowledge of psychoanalysis with Rilke.
Rilke's little-known 1898 poem, “Visions of Christ” depicted Mary Magdalene as the mother to Jesus' child.
With news of the death of his daughter's friend, Wera Knoop (1900–1919), Rilke was inspired to create and set to work on Sonnets to Orpheus. Within a few days, between February 2 and 5, 1922, he had completed the first section of 26 sonnets. For the next few days, he focused on the Duino Elegies, completing them on the evening of February 11. Immediately after, he returned to work on the Sonnets and completed the following section of 29 sonnets in less than two weeks. Throughout the Sonnets, Wera is frequently referenced, both directly by name and indirectly in allusions to a “dancer” and the mythical Eurydice. Although Rilke claimed that the entire cycle was inspired by Wera, she appears as a character in only one of the poems. He insisted, however, that “Wera's own figure [...] nevertheless governs and moves the course of the whole.”
In the summer of 1902, Rilke left home and travelled to Paris to write a monograph on the Sculptor Auguste Rodin. Before long his wife left their daughter with her parents and joined Rilke there. The relationship between Rilke and Clara Westhoff continued for the rest of his life; a mutually-agreed-upon effort at divorce was bureaucratically hindered by Rilke's “official” status as a Catholic, though a non-practising one.
Rilke published the three complete cycles of poems that constitute The Book of Hours (Das Stunden-Buch) in April 1905. These poems explore the Christian search for God and the nature of Prayer, using symbolism from Saint Francis and Rilke's observation of Orthodox Christianity during his travels in Russia in the early years of the twentieth century.
Rilke's work (specifically the Duino Elegies) has deeply influenced several poets and Writers, including william H. Gass,Galway Kinnell, Sidney Keyes, Stephen Spender, Robert Bly, W. S. Merwin, John Ashbery, Novelist Thomas Pynchon and Philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Hans-Georg Gadamer. British poet W. H. Auden (1907–1973) has been described as "Rilke's most influential English disciple" and he frequently "paid homage to him" or used the imagery of angels in his work.
Rilke wrote his only novel, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (translated as The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge) while living in Paris, completing the work in 1910. This semi-autobiographical novel adopts the style and technique that became associated with Expressionism, which entered European fiction and art in the early 20th century. Rilke was inspired by Sigbjørn Obstfelder's work A Priest's Diary and Jens Peter Jacobsen's second novel Niels Lyhne (1880), which traces the fate of an atheist in a merciless world. Rilke addresses existential themes, profoundly probing the quest for individuality, the significance of death, and reflection on the experience of time as death approaches. Rilke draws considerably on the writings of Nietzsche, whose work he came to know through Lou-Andreas Salomé. His work also incorporates impressionistic techniques that were influenced by Cézanne and Rodin (to whom Rilke was secretary in 1905–1906). He combines these techniques and motifs to conjure images of mankind's anxiety and alienation in the face of an increasingly scientific, industrial, reified world.
Rilke began writing the elegies in 1912 while a guest of Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis (1855–1934) at Duino Castle, near Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. During this ten-year period, the elegies languished incomplete for long stretches of time as Rilke suffered frequently from severe depression—some of which was caused by the events of World War I and his conscripted military Service. Aside from brief episodes of writing in 1913 and 1915, Rilke did not return to the work until a few years after the war ended. With a sudden, renewed inspiration—writing in a frantic pace he described as “a Savage creative storm”—he completed the collection in February 1922 while staying at Château de Muzot in Veyras, in Switzerland's Rhone Valley. After their publication and his death shortly thereafter, the Duino Elegies were quickly recognized by critics and scholars as Rilke's most important work.
Between October 1911 and May 1912, Rilke stayed at the Castle Duino, near Trieste, home of Princess Marie of Thurn und Taxis. There, in 1912, he began the poem cycle called the Duino Elegies, which would remain unfinished for a decade because of a long-lasting creativity crisis. Rilke had developed an admiration for El Greco as early as 1908, so he visited Toledo during the winter of 1912/13 to see Greco's paintings. It has been suggested that Greco's manner of depicting angels has influenced the conception of the angel in the Duino Elegies. The outbreak of World War I surprised Rilke during a stay in Germany. He was unable to return to Paris, where his property was confiscated and auctioned. He spent the greater part of the war in Munich. From 1914 to 1916 he had a turbulent affair with the Painter Lou Albert-Lasard. Rilke was called up at the beginning of 1916 and had to undertake basic training in Vienna. Influential friends interceded on his behalf—he was transferred to the War Records Office and discharged from the military on 9 June 1916. He returned to Munich, interrupted by a stay on Hertha Koenig's Gut Bockel in Westphalia. The traumatic experience of military Service, a reminder of the horrors of the military academy, almost completely silenced him as a poet.
On 11 June 1919, Rilke travelled from Munich to Switzerland. The outward motive was an invitation to lecture in Zurich, but the real reason was the wish to escape the post-war chaos and take up his work on the Duino Elegies once again. The search for a suitable and affordable place to live proved to be very difficult. Among other places, Rilke lived in Soglio, Locarno and Berg am Irchel. Only in mid-1921 was he able to find a permanent residence in the Château de Muzot in the commune of Veyras, close to Sierre in Valais. In an intense creative period, Rilke completed the Duino Elegies in several weeks in February 1922. Before and after, Rilke rapidly wrote both parts of the poem cycle Sonnets to Orpheus containing 55 entire sonnets. Together, these two have often been taken as constituting the high points of Rilke's work. In May 1922, Rilke's patron Werner Reinhart bought and renovated Muzot so that Rilke could live there rent-free.
From 1923 on, Rilke increasingly had to struggle with health problems that necessitated many long stays at a sanatorium in Territet, near Montreux, on Lake Geneva. His long stay in Paris between January and August 1925 was an attempt to escape his illness through a change in location and living conditions. Despite this, numerous important individual poems appeared in the years 1923–1926 (including Gong and Mausoleum), as well as the abundant lyrical work in French.
In 1924, Erika Mitterer began writing poems to Rilke, who wrote back with approximately fifty poems of his own and called her verse a Herzlandschaft (landscape of the heart). This was the only time Rilke had a productive poetic collaboration throughout all his work. Mitterer also visited Rilke. In 1950, her “Correspondence in Verse” with Rilke was published, and received much praise.
Shortly before his death, Rilke's illness was diagnosed as leukaemia. He suffered ulcerous sores in his mouth, pain troubled his stomach and intestines, and he struggled with increasingly low spirits. Open-eyed, he died in the arms of his Doctor on December 29, 1926, in the Valmont Sanatorium in Switzerland. He was buried on January 2, 1927, in the Raron cemetery to the west of Visp.
In 1929, a minor Writer, Franz Xaver Kappus (1883–1966), published a collection of ten letters that Rilke had written to him when he was a 19-year-old officer cadet studying at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt. The young Kappus wrote to Rilke, who had also attended the academy, between 1902 and 1908 when he was uncertain about his Future career as a military officer or as a poet. Initially, he sought Rilke's advice as to the quality of his poetry, and whether he ought to pursue writing as a career. While he declined to comment on Kappus's writings, Rilke advised Kappus on how a poet should feel, love, and seek truth in trying to understand and experience the world around him and engage the world of art. These letters offer insight into the ideas and themes that appear in Rilke's poetry and his working process. Further, these letters were written during a key period of Rilke's early artistic development after his reputation as a poet began to be established with the publication of parts of Das Stunden-Buch (The Book of Hours) and Das Buch der Bilder (The Book of Images).
Rilke often worked with metaphors, metonymy and contradictions (e.g. in his epitaph, the rose is a symbol of sleep—rose petals are reminiscent of closed eyelids).