Written by Sumedha Manhas, a grade 10 student – a writer who finds her escape in words
I came across the book in late November of the year 2021. Perhaps I wanted somewhat like a book’s warmth to carry me through the chilly weather, but alas, this book gave me anything but. Now when I say I didn’t receive warmth from this book, I mean it in a way that this book gave me a kind of discomfort which I surely know, not only polished the individual in me, but also led me to days and days of introspection.
It was exactly the kind of discomfort and novelty I wanted to seek. I did not have any expectations from this book (which turned out to be a good thing as expectation would’ve just made me critical about it from the first page), nor had I heard people bring it up in conversations, which helped me develop my own opinions about it, unaltered and completely crafted by my own mind’s apprehension.
This book is an exchange of letters between Rainer Maria Rilke,”widely recognised as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets” and Franz Xavar Kappus, a 19-year-old officer cadet whose heart struggled in between choosing a literary career and a career in army, which led to him seeking advice from Rilke upon the quality of his poems and his outlook upon life, poetry , art, love etc. (Rilke was an Austrian poet and novelist)
Rilke’s ideas and beliefs have been very intricately expressed through his letters, which helps the readers to understand his sentiment and approach when they read his other writings. These ten letters give us a pleasurable journey inside Rilke’s mind which bring helps us feel the rawness of emotions, a temptation to feel what is expressed through his words and an opportunity to look at the simplest of human nature in a way none of us would have expected to.
The harmony between his words and mind is not only revealed through his intellectually poetic statements but also through his subtle manner to haunt an individual by his honest judgement on concepts of art, love and all the things that according to romantics, keep a human alive.
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