The course will explore the rich legacy of one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. We will examine Rilke’s peculiar background in the German-speaking minority in Hapsburg Prague; his situation in the literary world of fin-de-siècle Munich; the significance of his encounter with Lou Andreas-Salomé; the intellectual experiences that shaped his outlook on life and on poetry (Nietzsche; Russia and Tolstoy; Paris and Rodin); his artistic breakthrough in the two-volume New Poems (1907) and the concept of the "Ding-Gedicht"; the existential crisis reflected in the modernist novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910); his reflections on the role of poetry in a modern world of uncertainty in texts such as A Letter to a Young Poet (1903); his artistic crisis of the 1910s; and the extraordinary double achievement of 1922, The Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus. Conducted in English (no knowledge of German required), with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.
Spring semester. Professor Rogowski.