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Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation

Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The greatly admired essayist, novelist, and philosopher, author of Cartesian Sonata, Finding a Form, and The Tunnel, reflects on the art of translation and on Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies — and gives us his own translation of Rilke's masterwork.

After nearly a lifetime of reading Rilke in English, William Gass undertook the task of translating Rilke's writing in order to see if he could, in that way, get closer to the work he so deeply admired. With Gass's own background in philosophy, it seemed natural to begin with the Duino Elegies, the poems in which Rilke's ideas are most fully expressed and which as a group are important not only as one of the supreme poetic achievements of the West but also because of the way in which they came to be written — in a storm of inspiration.

Gass examines the genesis of the ideas that inform the Elegies and discusses previous translations. He writes, as well, about Rilke the man: his character, his relationships, his life.
Finally, his extraordinary translation of the Duino Elegies offers us the experience of reading Rilke with a new and fuller understanding.

Book News Annotation:

After reading the 20th-century German poet in English for most of his life, essayist, novelist, and philosopher Gass ( tried his hand at translating. He offers not only his version the but also a deep exposition of what he learned about language, thought, and translation from the effort. He does not index them.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

About the Author

William H. Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1924. He has been the recipient of grants from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, as well as the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Medal of Merit for Fiction, the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism (1985 and 1996). He has also won the Pushcart Prize (1976, 1983, 1987, 1992), and his work has appeared four times in Best American Short Stories. He lives in St. Louis, where he is the director of the International Writers' Center.

Product Details

Reflections on the Problems of Translation
Gass, William H.
Random House Trade
New York :
History & Criticism *
European - German
Authors, german
Translating and interpreting
Authors, German -- 20th century -- Biography.
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references p. 227-233.
Publication Date:
September 1999
Trade Cloth
8.78x6.00x1.06 in. .93 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation
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Product details 256 pages Random House Trade - English 9780375403125 Reviews:
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