The Rilke Alphabet


Published by Fordham University Press
The renowned Rilke scholar brings the poet’s work to life for modern readers through 26 essays, each devoted to a single word found in his writings.

Ulrich Baer’s The Rilke Alphabet explores the enduring power of one of the world’s greatest poets, a visionary who saw that even the smallest overlooked word could unlock life’s mysteries. With deep insight and love for Rilke’s language, Baer examines twenty-six words that are not merely unexpected in his work, but problematic—even scandalous. Through twenty-six evocative essays, Baer sheds new light on Rilke’s creative process and his deepest thoughts about life, art, politics, sexuality, love, and death.

The Rilke Alphabet shows how the poet’s work can be a guide to life even in our contemporary world. Whether it is a love letter to frogs, a troubling—though brief—infatuation with Mussolini, a sustained reflection on the Buddha, or the impassioned assertion that freedom must be lived in order to be known, Rilke’s thoroughly original writings pull us deeply into life.

Baer’s decades-long experience as a scholar, translator, and editor of Rilke’s writings allows him to reveal unique aspects of Rilke’s work. The Rilke Alphabet will surprise and delight Rilke fans, and deepen every reader’s sense of the power of poetry to penetrate the mysteries of our world.

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