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Transformation of Language and Religion in Rainer Maria Rilke

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Johannes Wich-Schwarz

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), perhaps the most famous European poet of the twentieth century, exemplifies how the «crisis of language» inherent in literary Modernism also constitutes a crisis of religious discourse. In Rilke’s poetry and prose, language replaces God as the focal point of human experience. Yet despite his rejection of Christianity, Rilke crucially draws on Christian imagery to express his Modernist worldview. Transformation of Language and Religion in Rainer Maria Rilke offers new readings of major texts such as The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge and The Duino Elegies, as well as analyzing some of Rilke’s lesser-known works, Visions of Christ and «The Letter of the Young Worker.»

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Introduction ..................................................................................................... 1 Chapter One: Visions of Christ and “Evening Meal” ...................................... 9 Chapter Two: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge ................................ 34 Chapter Three: Duino Elegies ....................................................................... 76 Chapter Four: “The Letter of the Young Worker” ...................................... 102 Epilogue ...................................................................................................... 120 Appendix One: Translation of Visions of Christ ......................................... 121 Appendix Two: Translation of “The Letter of the Young Worker” ........... 153 Bibliography ............................................................................................... 163 Index ........................................................................................................... 171

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