Sunday, 4 August 2019

Book #57

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

A hugely influential collection for writers and artists of all kinds, Rilke's profound and lyrical letters to a young friend advise on writing, love, sex, suffering and the nature of advice itself. 


These little black books now fill me with dread. When I pick one up, I am never filled with any sort of positive anticipation, and I convince myself I’m going to hate it before I even begin. It’s having a detrimental effect on my enjoyment, obviously, and I can no longer guarantee I genuinely dislike these. I’m sure if they were wrapped in different covers, I’d feel differently.

So, Letters to a Young Poet was a slog for me, just as many of the additions to this range have been a slog. The book is comprised of letters Rilke sent to a poet who had sought his advice, and go into lots of detail on the writing process, love, life, and probably whatever else you can imagine.

Rilke’s words are beautiful, and I am sure endearing to many, but I felt like I was reading a very eloquent, and very long-winded self-help book. The passages felt overly long, and somewhat pompous and self-assured. I’m certain I wouldn’t like this guy as a mentor, despite his apparent brainpower.

I can’t wait to finish this range. Perhaps I shall write a book entitled Letters to Young Attempter of Little Black Classics

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