Translated for the first time into English, these diaries offer unique insight into Rilke's development as one of the greatest poets and prose stylists of the twentieth century.
In April 1898 Rainer Maria Rilke, not yet twenty-three, began a diary of his Florence visit. it was to record, in the form of an imaginary dialogue with his mentor and then-lover, Lou Andreas-Salome, his firsthand experiences of early Renaissance art. The descriptive project quickly expanded to include not only thoughts on life, history, and artistic genius, but also unguarded moments of revulsion, self-doubt, and manic expectation. The result is an intimate glimpse into the young Rilke, full of Nietzschean fervor and dreamy Botticellian fantasy, anxiously enamored of a woman fifteen years his senior, already experimenting brilliantly with language and metaphor.
Rilke completed his Florence diary in early July. Two others followed. In these diaries, Rilke's voice grows more inward, and his quintessential blend of landscape, longing, and memory comes into being as we read.
The three works span what is arguably the most crucial phase in Rilke's development, and -- especially in this fluent, annotated translation -- emerge as central to the Rilke canon, early prose counterweights to the later Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. [via]