Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Alba Amoia; Bettina L.Knapp | Go to book overview
Save to active project



Luanne Frank


René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke was the only son of poorly matched parents who separated in little more than a decade, not soon enough to spare him the need to accomplish through writing the childhood that their difficulties and his mother's peculiarities denied him. His father, forced to retire early from a military career, became a minor railroad official and anticipated his military dreams' fulfillment by his son. The family was kept in circumstances inadequate to the expensive tastes of his merchant-class mother, who had been reared in a palace. Overextended social hopes, ostentatious religiosity, and desire for the daughter she had lost before Rilke's birth characterized her life with her young son. She took him on her frequent visits to shrines and churches and reared him partly as a girl, keeping him in long curls and lace-trimmed dresses—unsurprising for the time—but also giving him dolls to play with and playing games with him in which he took the role of a daughter. Two of the defining parental tendencies, his father's militarism and his mother's Christianity, he soon abandoned, rejecting both as forms of institutionalized authoritarianism. His mother's pretensions and her false coding of him did not diminish his love for women or erase his ideal of sublime femininity and motherhood; nor did his turn from the Christian God dissolve his yearnings toward divinity in some form.

He was sent to a military school (1886), which he compared with a Siberian prison from Dostoevsky's reminiscences of life in the death house, declaring that he would have been unable to achieve his life had he not suppressed all memories of those five brutal years at school. Writing and reading became a refuge and escape. His health possibly affected, he left in 1891 to study business in Linz. In 1895 he entered Prague's Karl Ferdinand University to read philosophy, changing shortly to law and leaving in the fall of 1896 to study art history in Munich. The Prague years saw him go from invisibility to prominence in the


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 497

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?