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The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,383 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
According to Wikipedia: "Rainer Maria Rilke (also Rainer Maria von Rilke) (4 December 1875 - 29 December 1926) is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th century poets. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety - themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure b ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1910)
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Kalliope




We humans, with our mighty brain, like to use its powers to dwell on our own condition, which is precisely, but only partly, determined by the nature of this brain with which we have been equipped.

Themes like love, or an emphatic vulnerability to another being; our sense of time, with memories of our own lives and experiences from times when this brain was still young and absorbing the world and absorbing itself, or with anxiety about the life not yet lived; the material surroundings, with objec
...more
Eric
Rilke’s semiautobiographical surrogate Malte Laurids Brigge is a young Dane, a noble scion adrift in early twentieth century Paris, trying to become a poet. He corresponds rather well to Anthony Burgess’s description, in his charming study ReJoyce (1965), “of the type of student Stephen Daedelus represents, poor, treasuring old books with foxed leaves, independent, unwhining, deaf to political and social shibboleths, fanatically devoted to art and art only.” Malte and Stephen hang out at the Bib ...more
Tamer
Mar 19, 2013 Tamer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This novel is amazing.

I am sitting here, reading the responses left by others, and what the hell? Most of you are downgrading this book due to the lack of Rilke's message in this book. For those of you who do not know Rilke, Rilke is considered one of the worlds greatest poets, as this was his first and only novel. If you do not like, nor prefer poetry, this novel is not for you.

The book is a compilation of narrative, philosophical asides, sketches for future poems, and detailed descriptions o
...more
[P]
Jan 10, 2016 [P] rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
I don’t imagine that I will always read. I hope not, anyway. For someone who is so scared of death it is rather perverse, or certainly absurd, that I spend so much of my time amongst the dead, instead of engaging with the world around me. Indeed, that is why I started reading heavily, it was, I’m sure, a way of turning away from a world that I so often felt, and still feel, at odds with, towards another that I could control and which did not challenge me. With books, I can pick and choose a sens ...more
Andrew
Dense, peculiar, at times impenetrable, at times utterly bursting with stunning imagery, this is an immensely difficult book to pin down. And it got under my skin. Proust crashing headlong into Dostoyevsky. This is what happens when a writer who is, at heart, a lyrical romantic faces the dawning industrial era with a combination of absolute trepidation and awe.

And if you live alone, in a foreign city, sure of not very much, your mind periodically drawn back to a childhood in a frigid Northern cl
...more
James
Rilke was a poet and his only novel demonstrates that on every page. It is a dreamlike novel that is evocative of Paris and poetry. The focus on themes of death and darkness in contrast with the power of god and belief were powerful, joining with his beautiful writing to keep me enthralled. Through Rilke's fascination with faces and appearances the importance of constructing an authentic life is emphasized. This becomes a prerequisite for the prospect of a unique personal death. Death itself is ...more
Kilburn Adam
Feb 26, 2013 Kilburn Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a few German books already this year. So I thought I'd give Rilke a go. I first found out about this writer in Walter Kaufmann's book Existentialism From Dostoevsky to Sartre. And looking at Kaufmann's book right now, I see that Kaufmann has essentially just published a few short extracts from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. And a brief biography.

This is Rilke's only novel. It's semi-autobiographical. And he addresses existential themes - such as individuality and death. You can
...more
Edward
Chronology
Introduction
Notes to the Introduction
Further Reading
A Note on the Text


--The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Notes
Barbara
Oct 21, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, bloom-canon
Rilke's extraordinary semi-autobiographical novel deals with masking our true selves and others in order to fit into the bewildering chaos of the world around us. The writer (Rilke or Brigge, take your pick) takes us through visions, memories, and impressions, and starkly contrasts these with the world as he now experiences it. The work is beautifully amorphous, and surprisingly funny:

"There is a being that is completely harmless if it passes before your eyes, you hardly notice it and immediate
...more
Jimmy
"What's the use of telling someone that I am changing? If I'm changing, I am no longer who I was; and if I am something else, it's obvious that I have no acquaintances. And I can't possibly write to strangers."

It is precisely because the form of this book is so hard to pin down that it is so effective. It challenges the reader to forget about the novel, and its easy explications and narrative arcs. (Though it feels much too organically arisen for me to use the term 'experimental'). Here we have
...more
John David
Reading “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” is to have the feeling that you have never before read words used in exactly this way for exactly this purpose. Rilke, perhaps most known for being the greatest German-language poet of the twentieth century, has written what can only be called a prose poem – but even to use this phrase is to reduce a fullness that cannot be reduced. This novel is symphonic, lush, and poignant. In its evocation of memory, it is Proust avant la lettre. But there are ...more
Anna
Apr 27, 2013 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge' isn't a very novelistic novel, as it is told as a sort of diary in the first person and is semi-autobiographical. Brigge is a twenty-eight year old Danish man, alone and adrift in Paris. He wishes to transmute his fear of death into some profound literary work and fills his notebooks with memories, historical anecdote, and sketches of the Parisian streets. I was very moved by Rilke's evocation of urban alienation, of listening to your neighbours through th ...more
Adam Floridia
Sometimes choosing a star rating can be difficult. To avoid falling trap to such uncertainty, I try to stick as formally to the description as possible (ie: 1= “didn’t like,” 2= “it was ok,” 3=”liked it,” etc.). What gets really hairy, though, is when I have to reconcile “liked” with “appreciated,” which can be at odds and which happens occasionally with “literature.” This is made all the tougher when I already have it in my head that I should “like,” or at the very least “appreciate,” a book be ...more
Rodney
Jul 09, 2009 Rodney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is one of those books I’ve beaten my head against many times, started and stopped, bought then resold then re-bought in a rainbow of different editions. Now that Burton Pike’s taken it on—the same Burton Pike who brought Robert Musil to life in English—the gauzy bard of angels and towers gets helpfully pulled down to his home planet, a Paris where homelessness and loneliness turn the City of Lights into the crèche of Europe's disenchanted modernity. Wobbling epistemes never sounded so good.
D.S. Mattison
May 08, 2008 D.S. Mattison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the version with an introduction written by William Gass and translation by Stephen Mitchell. Gass writes, "Rilke is not Malte, but Malte is Rilke." It is important to keep this in mind when wandering around the Paris streets with Malte, a young Danish nobleman who has left his family home in favor of the life of a romantic poet and who suffers from fits of remembrance. He also suffers from an acute anxiety caused in the search for the love that gives of itself. Although written without c ...more
Hande
Mar 15, 2015 Hande rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rilke gehört zu meinen Lieblingsdichtern. Ich habe die Gedichte von Rilke und seine Bücher "Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge" sowie "Briefe an einen jungen Dichter" gelesen und würde diese weiter empfehlen.
Rose Gowen
Dec 15, 2012 Rose Gowen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually finished this days ago, but I didn't want to put it away, and I wasn't sure what else I could say about it but, Oh, oh, oh, how beautiful! how good!

So: oh, oh, oh, how beautiful! how good!
Meem
Nov 18, 2015 Meem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The kind of book you could reread 10 times and still find something new in every time.
Lina
Dec 20, 2013 Lina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won't say that I fully understood everything, which I haven't(Though it's possibly impossible). All that I know is that this little piece of work carries everything I define as "Rilke's spirit", through the language, the themes, the actions described. Did I wonder before how Rilke's poetry would be in prose form? Well, I sure as hell know now.

The main theme seems to be death: How people die, how we die ourselves and that most people don't even care anymore to pick a death suitable to them or e
...more
Rachel Kowal
Dec 04, 2013 Rachel Kowal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily one of the best books I've read all year and probably one that will stay at the top of my list for years to come.

There is something I want to carry around with me from every page, whether it's just a short string of words or a body of paragraphs. A meditation on life and death that is devastating, insightful, striking, and beautiful.

The imagery sings, or sometimes howls, off the page: a building on fire, the people looking on in silence until the walls come crashing down. We’re going some
...more
Hyperion
Dec 13, 2015 Hyperion rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't imagine this novel proving very enjoyable if it were one's introduction to Rilke but as an accompaniment to his poetry it is truly indispensable, especially considering the proximity to the Duino Elegies. These "notebooks" are such a treat because they betray similar preoccupations of the Elegies but in a way seem to function as a series of exercises through which the haunting images are identified, examined and stored away in prose to be further chiseled and set in the poetry. It seems ...more
Joseph Voelbel
Oct 19, 2015 Joseph Voelbel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ahh, to delve into the musings of a poet in Paris. To strike through his ingenious heart and ignite within a soulful flame. Brigge is a facet of Rilke, one whom, if you've ever been smitten with his poetry, is not to be ignored. Look through these pages and see how mirrors of the self extend reality in addition to reflecting it.

"I do not know how much I took in, but it was as if a solemn promise had been made to me that one day I should understand it all. And as her voice filled out, until at la
...more
Tait
May 30, 2008 Tait rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, german
Many are familiar with his "Duino Elegies," and some colleges even require his "Letters to a Young Poet" in freshmen classes, but Rilke's only novel remains somewhat of a mystery. Much like other existential, man-about-town texts, in which not much happens but a character's obsession becomes fully lived (cf. Sartre and nausea, Lautréamont and evil, Miller and sex), Rilke's Malte is troubled by the question of death and transcendence, and that place where the veil of reality is torn to reveal poe ...more
Benjamin Farmer
Mar 02, 2016 Benjamin Farmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sublimely written part-autobiography, part diary, part ghost story. I've read some of Rilke's poetry, but I'm saving myself for the rest. In fact, writing this I realise I need to buy it now. "A series of disconnected random scenes." I also enjoyed the foreward (in my edition) by Burton Pike, which I found useful. I think I might read the book again. I enjoyed it immensely. He was 28 when he wrote it, desperate to be the poet he was to become. Among the first of the Modernist novels . . . good s ...more
Lucy Barnhouse
This is Rilke at his most bleak and his most beautiful. Elliptical, near-mystical evocations of childhood memories, interior landscapes, and imagined histories alternate with breathtakingly brutal descriptions of a city on the threshold of twentieth-century modernity. Rilke manages to blur the lines between individual and collective anguish even as he portrays his protagonist's terrifying, half-willful isolation. The language is to be savored; I loved it.
Immanuel Amojong Lokwei
One of the best quotes from the novel:
We discover that we do not know our role; we look for a mirror; we want to remove our make-up and take off what is false and be real. But somewhere a piece of disguise that we forgot still sticks to us. A trace of exaggeration remains in our eyebrows; we do not notice that the corners of our mouths are bent. And so we walk around, a mockery and a mere half; neither having achieved being nor actors.
Stephen
Jun 22, 2014 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Sometimes I think about how the sky came to be, and death: because we moved outside ourselves what is most precious to us, since there was still so much else to do first and it wasn't safe with us in all our busyness. Now much time has passed over this, and we have grown accustomed to smaller things. We no longer recognize what belongs to us and are terrified by its extreme vastness. May this not be so?"
Ana
Feb 23, 2013 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For many years the most important literary figure in my life was J.M.Coetzee. I never thought that would or could ever shift. Until now. Not only did I discover my innermost literary love, but I also uncovered the literary paternity between Rilke and my other unparalleled love - J.M.Coetzee. Coetzee - a limb of Rilke.
There are things to live for.
Işıl
Jan 24, 2013 Işıl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
You don't want to know what he's going to say in the next page, you live in the moment of each single line. And I believe that is the very core of existentialism.
I also found quite a few similarities with Sartre's Nausea in the book in terms of the way the author's main points are conveyed. A new favorite!
Tank Green
Mar 31, 2016 Tank Green rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, memoirs
a 40 page-in assessment: can rilke say anything unimportant? i think not.

upon finishing, the same feeling remains. rilke was truly a remarkable writer and this book finds you so full of him. sometimes the prose was overwhelming and i'd need to put it down. he would brim over and out of me.
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quotes 2 48 Apr 09, 2009 03:47PM  
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7906
Rainer Maria Rilke is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th century poets.

His haunting images tend to focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety — themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. His two mos
...more
More about Rainer Maria Rilke...

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“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” 607 likes
“For the sake of a few lines one must see many cities, men and things. One must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the small flowers open in the morning. One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and to partings which one had long seen coming; to days of childhood that are still unexplained, to parents that one had to hurt when they brought one some joy and one did not grasp it (it was joy for someone else); to childhood illness that so strangely began with a number of profound and grave transformations, to days in rooms withdrawn and quiet and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along on high and flew with all the stars-and it is not enough if one may think all of this. One must have memories of many nights of love, none of which was like the others, of the screams of women in labor, and of light, white, sleeping women in childbed, closing again. But one must also have been beside the dying, one must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the fitful noises. And still it is not enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many, and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not until they have turned to blood within us, to glance, to gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves-not until then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.” 173 likes
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