15 January 2008

Best dedications?

I was book browsing in the poetry section of the store last week and decided I'd buy a volume of Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry. I've only read a few poems by Rilke and I don't know much about him or his writing. I decided that it was time that I did.

Next to Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke were two other volumes: Letters on Cezanne and Stories of God. I was intrigued and bought all three volumes.

This evening I started Stories of God. The dedication to this book is stunning:

My friend, once I put this book in your hands, and you were fonder of it than anyone before you. So I have become accustomed to thinking of it as belonging to you. therefore, permit me, not only in your own book but in all the books of this new edition, to write your name, to write:

The Stories of God belong to Ellen Key.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Rome, April 1904.

How cool would it have been to be Ellen Key and to read that dedication?

Since I liked that dedication, I then had to see if there was a dedication to be discovered in Letters to Cezanne.

Somehow I too must find a way of making things; not plastic, written things, but realities that arise from the craft itself. Somehow I too must discover the smallest constituent element, the cell of my art, the tangible immaterial means of expressing everything...

To Louis Andreas-Salome, August 10, 1903

I think I will enjoy reading the two prose works. The poems I intend to savor over the next several weeks or months.


Dorothy W. said...

Those are lovely dedications. Enjoy your reading!

(un)relaxeddad said...

Lou Andreas Salome! One of the great muses of intense, ferocious German writers. I love Rilke - never read any of the prose, though. Must dig out the Sonnets to Orpheus somewhere on my shelves - thanks for the reminder!

Cam said...

(Un)R, I never thought about to whom the dedications were, and I did not recognize the names. Thanks for your comment about Andreas-Salome. I now know a little about her and about Ellen Key. Sounds like Rilke knew some interesting and accomplished women!

Dorothy, your posts several months ago about Rilke helped to persuade me to read some of his works.

Imani said...

Ahead of All Parting is one of my favourite books, period. You're in for an experience.

John Mutford said...

I confess to never reading the dedications.