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RilkeThe Life of the Work$
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Charlie Louth

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198813231

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198813231.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

Duineser Elegien

Duineser Elegien

(p.357) 9 Duineser Elegien

Charlie Louth

Oxford University Press

Rilke regarded the Elegies as his magnum opus, and this and criticism’s readiness to adopt his judgement have not only obstructed appreciation of Rilke’s other work but made it hard to read the Elegies themselves. We need to learn to read them again, which to an extent means reading them against the grain. It is as a precarious structure, rather than as a monumental one, that they have their meaning. This chapter offers a reading of each elegy in turn, attending to the rhythms, movements, and poetic logic of the poems—in short, the language out of which they are made—more than to their ‘argument’. A focus and starting-point is the elegy itself: elegy as classical form points to art as what shapes life and attempts to give it meaning; elegy as lament points to life as what is resistant to art and in its transience always escapes its structures.

Keywords:   elegy, experience of reading, poetic logic, structure, fragility, improvisation

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