Rilke, Europe, and the English-Speaking World

By Eudo C. Mason | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The present book originated as an inaugural lecture, delivered in Edinburgh on 11 October 1951. It has been my object to bring together in it everything relevant to Rilke's attitude towards the English-speaking world that has already variously appeared in print, together with such other material as has happened to come my way. I have not pursued any systematic research on the subject, except in so far as it was necessary to follow up particular points. What is here presented is therefore not exhaustive. There is certainly much more material unpublished. But the material available without systematic research is so copious that the results based upon it can fairly claim to have representative validity.

One of the chief sources of such unpublished material as has here been used are the Rilke Archives, in which it was my privilege to work for several weeks in the years 1937 to 1939, when they were still housed in Weimar. The subject of my research at that time was not Rilke's relationship to the English-speaking world, but some of the notes then taken proved of value in my present task. Rilke's daughter, Frau Ruth Fritzsche-Rilke, has with great patience and kindness answered many questions for me during the last ten years and supplied me with excerpts from unpublished letters, for which I am very grateful to her.

I also owe a great debt of gratitude to the late Dr Werner Reinhart of Winterthur and to his nephew, Dr Balthasar Reinhart, for allowing me on various occasions to examine Rilke's library at Muzot. It should be noted that this library, to which frequent reference is made in the present book, has not remained completely untouched since Rilke's death. There were more books than could all be accommodated at the same time on the shelves in Rilke's study, and in the process of rearrangement some have found their way from the study to other parts of the building (or perhaps to Berne) and vice versa. Rilke had the habit of recording the dates of his reading and sometimes also of his

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