Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was one of the greatest lyric German poets. Born in Prague, he published his first book of poems, Leben und Lieber, at age nineteen. He met Lou Salome, the talented and spirited daughter of a Russian army officer, who influenced him deeply. In 1902 he became a friend, and for a time the secretary, of Rodin, and it was during his twelve-year Paris residence that Rilke enjoyed his greatest poetic activity. In 1919 he went to Switzerland where he spent the last years of his life. It was there that he wrote his last two works, Duino Elegies (1923) and The Sonnets to Orpheus (1923). Ulrich Baer is a writer, translator, and scholar who has published books on poetry, photography, and the relations between memory, testimony, trauma, and culture. As Vice Provost at NYU, he oversees faculty, arts, humanities and diversity in addition to teaching poetry, philosophy, and globalization as Professor of German and Comparative Literature.
This slender book, a selection of letters of condolence, available for the first time in English, is a treasure. The solace Rilke offers is uncommon, uplifting and necessary ... He is as unplatitudinous as it is possible for the author of letters of condolence to be ... It was Rilke's fresh, courageous, undeceived approach that ensured that recipients held on to these letters as keepsakes and that we can now do the same * Guardian * A surprisingly uplifting collection about how to make it through life's ups and downs - particularly useful given everything in the news at the moment * Vogue * For the first time, a series of the letters have been translated and collected in The Dark Interval, forming a remarkable and beautiful resource for finding solace in grief * TANK Magazine * Even though each of these letters of condolence is personalized with intimate detail, together they hammer home Rilke's remarkable truth about the death of another: that the pain of it can force us into a `deeper . . . level of life' and render us more `vibrant.' Here we have a great poet's reflections on our greatest mystery -- Billy Collins As we live our lives, it is possible to feel not sadness or melancholy but a rush of power as the life of others passes into us. This rhapsodic volume teaches us that death is not a negation but a deepening experience in the onslaught of existence. What a wise and victorious book! -- Henri Cole