Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet are arguably the most famous and beloved letters of the twentieth century. Written when the poet was himself still a young man, with most of his greatest work before him, they were addressed to a student who had sent Rilke some of his own writing, asking for advice on becoming a writer. The two never met, but over a period of several years Rilke wrote him these ten letters, which have been cherished by hundreds of thousands of readers for what Stephen Mitchell calls in his Foreword the "vibrant and deeply felt experience of life" that informs them. Eloquent and personal, Rilke's meditations on the creative process, the nature of love, the wisdom of children, and the importance of solitude offer a wealth of spiritual and practical guidance for anyone. At the same time, this collection, in Stephen Mitchell's definitive translation, reveals the thoughts and feelings of one of the greatest poets and most distinctive sensibilities of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague in 1875 and traveled throughout Europe for much of his adult life, returning frequently to Paris. There he came under the influence of the sculptor Auguste Rodin and produced much of his finest verse, most notably the two volumes of "New Poems "as well as the great modernist novel "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge." Among his other books of poems are "The Book of Images" and "The Book of Hours. "He lived the last years of his life in Switzerland, where he completed his two poetic masterworks, the "Duino Elegies" and "Sonnets to Orpheus." He died of leukemia in December 1926.
Stephen Mitchell is Leverhulme Professor of Hellenistic Culture at the University of Exeter. Previous books include A History of the Later Roman Empire AD 284 641 (2007) and, more recently, The Imperial Temple at Ankara and the Res Gestae of the Emperor Augustus. A Historical Guide (2008).
"The common reader will be delighted by Stephen Mitchell’s new translation of that slim and beloved volume by Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet . . . the best yet."
--Los Angeles Times