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Malte Laurids Brigges optegnelser

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  7,473 ratings  ·  468 reviews
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge is Rilke’s major prose work and was one of the earliest publications to introduce him to American readers. The very wide audience which Rilke’s work commands today will welcome the reissue in paperback of this extremely perceptive translation of the Notebooks by M. D. Herter Norton. A masterly translation of one of the first great mode ...more
Paperback, 181 pages
Published 2005 by Gyldendal (first published 1910)
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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
Dec 01, 2012 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 description
Adam Dalva
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore this odd novel (I read the new Vilain translation) - as weird and wild as I've read, brilliantly anticipatory of later developments in modernism, teeming with ghosts and the unwell, intensely neurotic, (of course) poetic. It is not an EASY read - particularly when it comes to the last third of the novel. The first third (I'm simplifying), Malte in Paris, is incredible, particularly a sequence where Malte encounters a tertiary syphilis sufferer and finds himself following aghast; the seco ...more
I felt repeatedly while reading The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge that I might have had a strong positive response to it if I had (have?) a fear of death or if I was well acquainted with the poetry of Rilke. I also noticed while reading that I do not have a fear of death (view spoiler) and that the notebooks failed to instil such a fear in me, further what ever desire I may have had to read Rilke's ...more
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
Jan 10, 2016 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
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
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit, fiction
'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
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon reading The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge one is left haunted by the wonderfully poetic prose, but in possession of only a vague notion of what the book was about. Through a series of disjointed vignettes, Rilke opens a window into the soul of his protagonist, but the view is as from a moving vehicle: the scenery is constantly changing, and one can only glimpse at the detail.

The Notebooks blend the mythic with the mundane, combining obscure ancient tales and anecdotes about everyday li
Kilburn Adam
Feb 24, 2013 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
I'm sorry to scratch a myth, but this book is almost illegible: we look for the meaning, we wait for it from cover to cover, but it does not come. Good times are rare; there is no action: this poet (great, they say) - and I like his poetry - wrote only one "novel"? But this is not a novel! In the 21st century, this book no longer tells us anything. ...more
Oct 12, 2011 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
James Henderson
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
"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
E. G.
Notes to the Introduction
Further Reading
A Note on the Text

--The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Aug 09, 2014 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
Let’s make one thing clear here: this is described everywhere as Rilke’s only novel, but I would never have called this book a novel. The loosely connected vignettes that make up this little tome are presented as the reflections that Malte Laurids Brigge put down on paper while living in Paris. They sound and feel like a journal, like the dream-like stream of thoughts people write down when they don’t think anyone will read their words. As such, it is a simple collections of ideas, remembrances, ...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. ...more
Nov 24, 2008 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. ...more
Rose Gowen
Dec 07, 2012 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!
Dec 20, 2013 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
Rachel Kowal
Aug 31, 2013 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
Feb 14, 2013 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.
Nov 04, 2015 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.
Ruxandra (4fără15)
LORD KNOWS I TRIED, but I simply could not get into this book. While I did find the writing beautiful and came across many thought-provoking, lyrically suffused passages (especially in the first half of the book), Malte's endless rambling about his childhood or about his convoluted family history bored me to death – problem is, these bits make up SO MUCH of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, making it nearly impossible to follow.

Still, here's a fragment on female representation in art and li
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
D.S. Mattison
May 08, 2008 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
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.
Sinclair von Sinclair
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
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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

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