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Letters around a Garden (The French List)

Letters around a Garden (The French List)

Current price: $12.00
Publication Date: April 5th, 2024
Seagull Books
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An intimate glimpse into the life and letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the most important poets of the twentieth century.
In July 1921, displaced European poet Rainer Maria Rilke sequestered himself in the chateau of Muzot, a thirteenth-century medieval tower perched in the vineyards above the town of Sierre in the Canton Valais, Switzerland. In this sun-flooded landscape of the Rhone Valley, he found beguiling echoes of Spain and his beloved Provence. Here, the Duino Elegies were famously completed and the Sonnets to Orpheus followed.
During this time, Rilke’s correspondence also bloomed, and Letters around a Garden collects some of those letters together into English for the first time. One intriguing exchange from 1924 to 1926 was with a young aristocratic Swiss woman Antoinette de Bonstetten, a passionate horticulturist who had been recommended as a potential advisor for the redesign and upkeep of the Muzot rose garden. In twenty-two precious letters originally written in French, Rilke relishes the prospect of their elusive meeting, keenly discusses the plans for his garden, and wittily laments the trials of his plants. Beyond the encomium for Paul Valéry and poignant memory of place are passages of exquisite writing, in which Rilke evokes with trademark sensitivity the delicate relationship between the changing seasons and the natural world of his adopted region. We also witness the loving relationship evolve between these sometime-fugitive correspondents and how questions of solitariness and companionship impinge on one who faces unaccustomed challenges as his health tragically declines.

About the Author

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) is considered one of the most important German-language poets of the modern age. Rilke succumbed to leukemia at Val-Mont, Montreux in December 1926. 

Will Stone is a poet, essayist, and literary translator based in Suffolk, England.

Will Stone is a poet, essayist, and literary translator based in Suffolk, England.