Chapter Three: Duino Elegies 76
Chapter Three Duino Elegies Must be a Woe— A loss or so— To bend the eye Best Beauty’s way— But—once aslant It notes Delight As difficult As Stalactite— —Emily Dickinson Was Malte’s vision of a “glorious language” only a convenient way for Rilke to end his novel on a positive note, or did this vision continue to inform Rilke’s subsequent oeuvre? This chapter will attempt to answer the question whether his later poetry fulfills the promise stated at the end of the novel. I will explore to what extent the Duino Elegies offer a resolution of the linguistic crisis negotiated in the novel, and what role metaphysical questions play in this endeavor. My reading revolves around three thematic aspects: the notion of therapy as a way of relating the Elegies back to the Malte novel, the significance of the angel in the Elegies, and, finally, the manner in which the poems move towards a renewal of language. This thematic emphasis motivates my choice of Duino texts: the discussion draws its material primarily from the first, second, seventh, and ninth elegy. I would like to preface my reading with several observations concerning the difficulties inherent in an interpretation of the Duino Elegies. Many readers presumably are intimidated by the seemingly impenetrable linguistic walls that stand in the way of comprehending these poems. This observation fits into the logic of my argument. If indeed the Elegies manifest a form of linguistic renewal, then it should not come as a surprise that...
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