Rediscovering Rilke

Reading Rilke

Finally got around to finishing reading William Gass’s Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation after starting it then putting it down for several years.  It opened up a whole new world of insight, not only on the problems of translation in general, but also on the poetry of Rilke.

A bonus feature is Gass’ own translations of “The Duino Elegies” which are enlightening and at times better than Stephen Mitchell’s translations, but Mitchell is a professional translator and Gass is not and this shows.

Two things I took away with me from the book: 1) an understanding that translations are not equal in quality–there are significant differences between them which can make the reading experience either enjoyable or painful, and 2) a greater appreciation and understanding of the poetry of Rilke.

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