Never before translated into English, Rainer Maria Rilke's fascinating Letters to a Very Young Painter , written toward the end of his life between 1920 and 1926, is a surprising companion to his infamous Letters to a Young Poet , earlier correspondence from 1902 to 1908. While the latter has become a global phenomenon, with millions of copies sold in many different languages, the present volume has been largely overlooked.
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was a poet and novelist, best known for his highly lyrical poetry. He was born in Prague, but spent significant portions of his life in Paris, where he initially served as the sculptor Auguste Rodin's secretary before going on to produce much of his important early work. Throughout his life, Rilke was continuously inspired by works of visual art. His biography of Rodin and his Letters on Cezanne, published posthumously, provide insight into the way visual artists, and their art, figured into his creative approach, and establish him as one of the key twentieth-century poets to engage with visual culture. Rachel Corbett is the author of You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin (2016, W.W. Norton), which won the 2016 Marfield Prize, the National Award for Arts Writing. Translations are forthcoming in German, Czech, Turkish, Korean and Russian. She has also written for New Yorker, The New York Times, The Art Newspaper, New York Magazine, and others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Damion Searls is an American translator and writer. He has translated thirty books from German, French, Norwegian, and Dutch, including The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, Dreams (2010), a selection of writings by Rainer Maria Rilke. He is also the author of three books, most recently The Inkblots (2017), a scientific and cultural history of the Rorschach test and biography of its creator, Hermann Rorschach.
In "Letters to a Young Painter, Rilke sends Balthus birthday
wishes, and inquiries about his school exams and his brothers.
These are accounts of quiet domesticity rather than grandiose
pronouncements, and, while they might not contradict Rilke's
earlier pronouncements, they at least represent a
softening."--Caoimhe Morgan-Feir "Canadian Art"
"If you need some words of wisdom... This later collection deserves attention... Rilke's encouragement to the young artist is inspiring and palpable, as is his care."--Eileen Kinsella "Artnet News"