Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rilke in New York City

The Inner Sky is a new bilingual selection of Rainer Maria Rilke's poems and prose pieces, many of them little known and never before translated in English. These translations, by the NEA- and PEN-award-winning author and translator Damion Searls, present a significant new voice for Rilke, one more intimate than oracular. Here is Rilke, not in his usual role of channeling the gods, but looking up from a book, musing about the girls of his Czech homeland, sharing his hallucinatory dreams, and the olfactory pleasures of keeping lemons on his writing desk in winter.

. . .

We are right at the start, do you see.
As though before everything. With
a thousand and one dreams behind us and
no act.

I can imagine no knowledge holier
than this:
that you must become a beginner.
Someone who writes the first word after
a centuries-long

. . .

Searls will discuss various issues of translation and read excerpts from The Inner Sky at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York (ACFNY) (11 East 52nd St, New York, NY) on Tuesday, December 14th at 6:30pm.

"Searls wipes clean the often-foggy lens through which non-German readers of Rilke have hitherto experienced him, and the result feels like a dream in which you can understand perfectly a language you didn't think you knew. Rilke's thrilling precision and disorientations and purposefulness are all suddenly there in English."
— Jonathan Franzen

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