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Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,222 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Here is a mini-anthology of poetry and prose for both aficionados and those readers discovering Rainer Maria Rilke for the first time. John J. L. Mood has assembled a collection of Rilke's strongest work, presenting commentary along with the selections. Mood links into an essay passages from letters that show Rilke's profound understanding of men and women and his ardent s ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 17th 1994 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1975)
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 ·  1,222 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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vivian flash
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: careless love
i was reading this book on my quick one day flight to new hampshire to confront some haunting diffuculties of my own.
this was a tremendously anxious moment for me. i was immediately comforted by rilkes gentle manner in which he approached human relationships.i was definitely searching for some answers myself. i want to share a passage that really opened up my eyes and heart and an endless row of doorways to walk through.

" All companionship can consist only in the strengthening of two neighboring
Mar 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
The 1 star review is not a reflection on Rilke, but the editor and his "considerations," Mr. John Mood. If you're thinking of reading Rilke, please try Letters to a Young Poet instead.

Mr. Mood is quite clear from the get go that this collection is the way he sees Rilke and his hope is to remedy the state of affairs in which Rilke is praised for the spirituality of his works, instead of the sex. I was skeptical - it's not like our culture is so spirituality based to begin with.

But the real kicker
Vincent Scarpa
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“It is a question in marriage, to my feeling, not of creating a quick community of spirit by tearing down and destroying all boundaries, but rather a good marriage is that in which each appoints to the other guardian of his solitude, and shows him this confidence, the greatest in his power to bestow. A ‘togetherness’ between two people is an impossibility, and where it seems, nevertheless, to exist, it is a narrowing, a reciprocal agreement which robs either one party or both of his fullest free ...more
Casey Kelley
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The man understand relationships, what can I say? Homeboy won't stifle you, he trusts you, and he loves your beautiful soul. Plus, anyone who does me the favor of translating their own works gets 5 stars in my book. Sometimes, late at night, I weep when I consider what I've lost in translation reading the interpretations of others.

My absolute favorite quote regarding what I hope my lifelong commitment is like comes from this book.
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other..." p. 27

This book is packed with wisdom.
Sean Goh
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it
For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognise no solitude, then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing the opportunity for solitude. And only those are the true sharings which rhythmically interrupt periods of deep isolation.

There is scarcely anything more difficult than to love one another. That it is work, day labor, day labor, God knows there is no other word for it. And look, added to this is the fact that young people are not pre
Lotsa cool things in this brief selection, including (spoilers for the game of thrones finale): (view spoiler) Totally (view spoiler) ...more
Huda AbuKhoti
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My favorite out of the books I read for Rilke, aside from the overly sexualized poems here and there. This book held so many lingering thoughts and lessons. I really recommend it. The translation as far as I'm concerned was really good and conveyed meaningful deep meanings.
Sep 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I recently heard the Cuban American poet Richard Blanco describe the difficulty of reading poetry in translation. Languages do not sound alike. They differ in lilt and cadence. Poetry borders on song, so you miss a lot, but I did the best I could. I love the words (translated) of Rainer Maria Rilke, especially the prose, which I find to be filled with wisdom and easier to understand. The phrases and words in Rilke's poetry are beautiful, but he was such a deep thinker that he almost had his own ...more
Colin Baumgartner
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rilke clearly exists on an entirely new and elevated plane of existence and thought. His prose is moving, probes life and love deeply and melodically, and is light and straightforward.
Stephanie Thoma
Recalling "Letters to a Young Poet," I become interested in reading more Rilke. This, however, is tinged with a fan-like quality, that both respects Rilke's love poems transcribed throughout, but also catapults them to a pedestal that makes them inaccessible. Rilke is painted as a middle-aged sexually explorative writer with wisdom extending beyond his own lifetime. I enjoyed some of Mood' interpretations/assertions though, here are a few:

- True love is when each person protects the solitude of
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of good poetry
I'm not a German speaker, so my concept of how this translation compares to the original is non-existant. However, I think that the beauty of the poetry in English is captivating and the essays retain what must be a logical, lyrical beauty in the German. Rilke's work is sublime and thoughtful and reminds us that losing oneself in love is never as wonderful as finding oneself.
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My first intimate reading of Rilke. I read the section entitled "Princess Dragon" around the campfire on the Yampa to a captive audience. Insightful and beautiful writing.
Jim Bauerlein
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful...a primer for us all. love being that which we seek in many forms. Rilke speaks from experience of both the lower and higher and speaks as only he can...
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Is it still I who burns unrecognizably?
May 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rilke's writings are lovely and profound but I found the added analysis broke up the poetry and bogged down the reading of this book.
Callia B.
We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard of, must be possible in it.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rilke
Rilke’s words and thoughts are magnetic even in translation. Mood has curated a stunning collection. I’ll be revisiting this for years to come
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My Life

My whole life is mine, but whoever says so
will deprive me, for it is infinite.
The ripple of water, the shade of the sky
are mine; it is still the same, my life.

No desire opens me: I am full,
I never close myself with refusal-
in the rhythm of my daily soul
I do not desire-I am moved;

by being moved I exert my empire,
making the dreams of night real:
into my body at the bottom of the water
I attract the beyonds of mirrors...

The Lovers

See how in their veins all becomes spirit:
into each other th
Evan Snyder
May 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was way more "considerations" than I was hoping for and not enough "translations." I also found the selection of poems a bit odd - at various points, Mood pulled single liners and generally seemed to pull snippets of poems that discussed love out of the context of a fuller work so meaning was lost. As a result, it was difficult for me to get into the poetry that was there, and my poetic flow kept being disrupted by boring reflections by the editor. I found his commentary distracted from rat ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a tricky volume. It contains some excellent poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke, and a nice selection of prose, but it's only ostensibly a collection of Rilke's work. Rather, it's a book of literary criticism by John J.L. Mood, the editor. Mood writes with a fine style and I appreciated his substantial knowledge of Rilke. I felt less enthusiastic about how Mood tends to insert himself and his own sense of Rilke's importance into his commentary. It's not a bad volume by any means, and I'm glad I ...more
Manuel Rodriguez Acosta
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rilke, one the earliest precursors of the feminist movement (by chance) writes deep, intentional and meaningful poetry in Love and Other Difficulties. His prose is something to behold. I just wish I read German so I could fully grasp his works of art !
Natrila Femi
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I love and adore Rilke's insight particularly around love and marriage. However, I found the analysis of the poetry or the introduction by John Mood a little bit off as I felt that it was quite irrelevant to add a lengthy passage preceding almost every new chapter.
Kim Williams
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't love the editor's essays surrounding the poetry and letters; otherwise, Rainer Maria Rilke, of course, is 5 stars.
Jayse Weaver
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rilke gets 5 stars. The "considerations" given by the translator did nothing for me.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Absolutely loved the writings in this book and their message, but Rilke's fetish for commas and disdain for periods made this a less enjoyable read than it could've been.
Kapil Yadav
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Didn't love the analysis.
Kristopher Larsen
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Not quite what I expected. Good, but when the 10 page essay examining a 12 word poem . . .

"resolve to be always begining -- to be a beginner!"
Paul Apelgren
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rilke is a force to be reckoned with and this small volume gives the reader a lot to think about. Very quick read on the face of it, but poetry demands to be re-read over and over.
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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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