Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation

Reading Rilke Reflections on the Problems of Translation The greatly esteemed essayist novelist and philosopher reflects on the art of translation and on rainer maria rilke s duino elegies and gives us his own translation of Rilke s masterwork

  • Title: Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation
  • Author: William H. Gass
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 276
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • The greatly esteemed essayist, novelist, and philosopher reflects on the art of translation and on rainer maria rilke s duino elegies and gives us his own translation of Rilke s masterwork.

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    About "William H. Gass"

    1. William H. Gass

      William Howard Gass was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, critic, and former philosophy professor.Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota Soon after his birth, his family moved to Warren, Ohio, where he attended local schools He has described his childhood as an unhappy one, with an abusive, racist father and a passive, alcoholic mother critics would later cite his characters as having these same qualities.He attended Wesleyan University, then served as an Ensign in the Navy during World War II, a period he describes as perhaps the worst of his life He earned his A.B in philosophy from Kenyon College in 1947, then his Ph.D in philosophy from Cornell University in 1954, where he studied under Max Black His dissertation, A Philosophical Investigation of Metaphor , was based on his training as a philosopher of language In graduate school Gass read the work of Gertrude Stein, who influenced his writing experiments.Gass taught at The College of Wooster, Purdue University, and Washington University in St Louis, where he was a professor of philosophy 1969 1978 and the David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities 1979 1999 His colleagues there have included the writers Stanley Elkin, Howard Nemerov 1988 Poet Laureate of the United States , and Mona Van Duyn 1992 Poet Laureate Since 2000, Gass has been the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities.Earning a living for himself and his family from university teaching, Gass began to publish stories that were selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of 1959, 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1980, as well as Two Hundred Years of Great American Short Stories His first novel, Omensetter s Luck, about life in a small town in Ohio in the 1890s, was published in 1966 Critics praised his linguistic virtuosity, establishing him as an important writer of fiction In 1968 he published In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, five stories dramatizing the theme of human isolation and the difficulty of love Three years later Gass wrote Willie Masters Lonesome Wife, an experimental novella illustrated with photographs and typographical constructs intended to help readers free themselves from the linear conventions of narrative He has also published several collections of essays, including On Being Blue 1976 and Finding a Form 1996 His latest work of fiction, Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas, was published in 1998 His work has also appeared in The Best American Essays collections of 1986, 1992, and 2000.Gass has cited the anger he felt during his childhood as a major influence on his work, even stating that he writes to get even Despite his prolific output, he has said that writing is difficult for him In fact, his epic novel The Tunnel, published in 1995, took Gass 26 years to compose An unabridged audio version of The Tunnel was released in 2006, with Gass reading the novel himself.When writing, Gass typically devotes enormous attention to the construction of sentences, arguing their importance as the basis of his work His prose has been described as flashy, difficult, edgy, masterful, inventive, and musical Steven Moore, writing in The Washington Post has called Gass the finest prose stylist in America Much of Gass work is metafictional.Gass has received many awards and honors, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1965, the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation in 1970 He won the Pushcart Prize awards in 1976, 1983, 1987, and 1992, and in 1994 he received the Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Literature of the Midwest He has teaching awards from Purdue University and Washington University in 1968 the Chicago Tribune Award as One of the Ten Best Teachers in the Big Ten He was a Getty Foundation Fellow in 1991 1992 He received the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 and the American Book Award for The

    773 thoughts on “Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation”

    1. Rilke is great writer, Gass is a great writer, naturally from a prose point of view this book is excellent. There are four main sections to the book.The first, a somewhat subjective biographic sketch of Rilke is intelligent and insightful if debatable on points. 4 starsThe second is Gass comparing his translation of specific lines to those of prior translators and explaining why they are stupid and wrong. This section was an unenjoyable flashback to many academic conferences and lecture room whe [...]

    2. Spellbinding in a way only a book about translations of a singularly visionary poet could be. Very cordially recommended for any fan of Rilke- and there ought to be many, I say. It's a really interesting opportunity to really read RMR's poetry from the inside out, as one might look under the bottom of a car and see all the gears, valves, tubes and metals clicking together underneath. Translation's a bitch and a half, especially if you want to try and carry some of Rilke's work across the thresho [...]

    3. The appeal of Reading Rilke is the same appeal of many of Gass’s essays ;; looking over the shoulder of a Master Reader as he. reads.______________A Note on the Type“This book was set in Fairfield, the first typeface from the hand of the distinguished American artist and engraver Rudolph Ruzicka (1883-1978). In its structure Fairfield displays the sober and sane qualities of the master craftsman whose talent has long been dedicated to clarity. It is the trait that accounts for the trim grace [...]

    4. M.J.'s review of Habitations of the Word: Essays reminded me that I had reviewed this book by Gass for the Washington Post way back in 1999, and forgot to include it here.Translating a literary work tends to be more an act of love than does literary criticism or biography. But sadly, translating rarely accompanies, not to mention animates, these more common scholarly acts. Love gives way to analysis, theory, and exposure.Thus it is fortunate that the award-winning literary essayist and novelist [...]

    5. reading Gass' process for both reading and translating Rilke is amazing. Gass has a better grasp of the function/implication of words than almost anyone, and his analysis of 14 different translations of Dunio Elegies was great, if a bit bombastic. I greatly prefer his translation to any of the ones he selected, although certainly more must exist. Like he comments, the original floats like a ghost through all of the translations.Oddly enough there are very few reflections on the actual problems o [...]

    6. Gives a crack of light into Rilke’s DUINO ELEGIES (Gass includes his translation of the ELEGIES in this book of biography and sharp literary criticism, with a dose of philosophy); very dense but clear prose, slow going; triggers that too-familiar sense of disappointment in the Great Artist who’s (no surprise) a lousy husband who abandons his child and who prefers the rich for company and the poor for writing material, but the book triggers more than that too—this bit helps to dethrone my i [...]

    7. How do you pronounce Rilke? Probably not as I pronounce it, for the way I pronounce it is fluid, every changing, poetic even. William H. Gass, now that's a name I can wrap my lips around. I've wanted to read both writers and here they are hiding together in plain sight, so I thought why not kill two birds with one book. I'll definitely read more of both of these odd ducks. I'll need to, I only understood about a third of what I read, but I liked the way it sounded. That's been my thing with poet [...]

    8. If Rilke when Rilke is perfect is indeed perfect I think it is because in Rilke we find a whole insoluble metaphysics magisterially conjoined w/ work that is always addressing in its business the matter of the poet's vocation. Gass knows the poems as well as anyone possibly can and has no peer when it comes to unpacking the vocation. I love that Gass makes mention of Cézanne. I have often said that Cézanne (as a painter) is my favourite poet. I have said this (repeatedly) not just to be provoc [...]

    9. "Dance the orange- dance the sweetness that has become you so that this northern world will feel the sunshine, too."

    10. Reading Rilke is a strange mix of biography, analysis, and translation. It provides a great deal of information on the poet but its aim is scattershot. Rather than offer an account of Rilke's life from conception to death we are often left to focus on moments instead, from the significant to the unusually minute. There's a tremendous amount of incredibly interesting and insightful analysis into Rilke's poetry but the book does not pretend to be academic about this. What is more, Reading Rilke is [...]

    11. more Gass. What can I say? For a while the only thing I could think of when I heard Rilke was Igby saying "Every year some asshole gives me a copy of Rilke's Letter To A Young Poet, telling me how it will change my life" or whatever. As independent and unaffected as I like to pretend I am, that line kind of trumped Rilke for me for a while, and I don't even think I quoted it correctly. Also, don't care to. But nothing about opinions is permanent. My 93 year old grandma was in a hospice for 87 da [...]

    12. Spellbinding. Not meant to be an introduction to Rilke, but I can't imagine how you could really dig deeper than surface level into Rilke without this book. Rilke's poetry takes serious effort, and yet: huge depths here, an amazing thicket of words and insight.Gass doesn't throw a lot of German into this book, and you don't need to know German to get one of the main points, which is that every translation ought to be based on a good reading, not just a linguistic rendering, and that translation [...]

    13. I finished reading this book yesterday, or at least the exposition. I am still reading his translation of Duino Elegies, reading each Elegy in his translation and then Poulin's. Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus the book is more than a reflection on translation; translation is embedded in an artistic biography, Rilke's development as a man, and the artistic demons and angels he wrestled with. Mr. Gass has opened Rilke; I have read poetry with the feeling that it meant something important [...]

    14. No, thank you.There are great moments but there are many low points too.I made assumptions. That Gass must have experience writing poetry and that he was as adept at German modern and old as he was at English. I was wrong. The history is great but the line by line analysis is jarring when you discover the great man's commentary is founded on a fragile base.Speaking as someone who is trying to learn a second language, it seems highly presumptuous that he would embark on this project without havin [...]

    15. I have such fond memories of reading this book in grad school: there are notes all over the margins of my copy. As silly as this sounds, reading it made me feel like such a scholar--I felt as though I were taking part in a secret society of knowledge. Plus, I've never read another book like it; you're studying Rilke, but his work is really a vehicle for the study and "problem" of translation.

    16. Gass writes with great brio about the problems of translating Rilke while providing illuminating details about his life. Rilke as a man was heavily flawed and suffered greatly but used this to supreme advantage in his art. Gass's translation of the Duino Elegies is, alongside Snow's and Mitchell's, among the best. For those interested, the interview he gives on KCRW's Bookworm with Michael Silverblatt about this book, is well worth checking out.

    17. A very creative look at Rilke's life and poetry, especially the magnificent if sometimes turgid ocean of The Duino Elegies, which William Gass has also retranslated He has a novelist's way of approaching Rilke, imperfect man, inspired poet, whether in sponsored hotel rooms or on the windy parapets of howling windy voices at the Duino castle I seem to be reading it all the way through sometimes a feat for me I must admit.

    18. For extensive info on this book:[beverlyajackson/2007/0]Anybody interested in Rilke's methods, work and life should not miss this book. Written by a brilliant academic, it is accessible, hilarious (at times) and full of information and enlightening tips for poets. I would want to enter the world of Rilke no other way.

    19. This is great for anyone who's interested in translation or Rilke, and good for people who like poetry. Gass gets a little carried away sometimes with very beautiful but unnecessary language, and parts of this were frustrating because they were so abstract and poet-y, but overall I'm glad I read it, and I learned a lot.

    20. An outstanding treatise on translation AND, in the process, the writer/philosopher justifies his own excellent translation of Rilke's masterpiece. This seems a must read for anyone who loves Rilke and is interested in the problems of translation.

    21. I admit I find Gass' fiction constipated (my loss, no doubt) but I've been a faithful admirer of his criticism since the 1980s. This handsome volume — an extended paean to Rilke, a meditation on the art of translation, a confession of love — is one of my favorites.

    22. Pompous and oracular, yet somewhat helpful in understanding a rebarbative (a word I've never had a need to use before) poet. I would recommend it only to people who would read almost anything to get a better understanding of Rilke.

    23. It took me a hell of a long time to finish this. And I can't say I'm the biggest fan of Gass's translations compared to, say, Stephen Mitchell's. Nonetheless, it was a good read, and it gave me some insight on Rilke's sort of faux melancholy pretense of artistry.

    24. Wonderful book on Rilke's life and the challenges of translating him. Gass is an excellent and at time playful writer. For all his reasoning for a closer translation, Gass' new translation in the final pages of the book just doesn't have the emotive impact that, "less faithful" translations do.

    25. An extraordinary pleasure to read as it allows for a reexamination of Rilke's work while comparing various translations into English. I read it slowly, enjoying every page.

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