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Learn More - opens in a new window or tab International shipping and import charges paid to Pitney Bowes Inc. Learn More - opens in a new window or tab Any international shipping and import charges are paid in part to Pitney Bowes Inc. Rilke's imagery is often so striking that even the deepest burrowing in Malte's malaise and artistic self-doubt can rival the lurid street scenes. View all 6 comments. I hope not, anyway. For someone who is so scared of death it is rather perverse, or certainly absurd, that I spend so much of my time amongst the dead, instead of engaging with the world around me.

As a novel it is something of a failure, but large parts of it resonate with me as much as, if not more than, any writing ever set down on paper. I imagined that outside there, there still might be something that belonged to me, even now, even in this sudden poverty of dying. But scarcely had I looked thither when I wished the window had been barricaded, blocked up, like the wall. For now I knew that things were going on out there in the same indifferent way, that out there, too, there was nothing but my loneliness.

The Notebooks, however, contains none of that. Indeed, in the opening line of the novel he states that Paris is a place where, it strikes him, one does not go to live, but where one goes to die; it is a place that smells of pommes frites and fear. That Malte is the last, or one of the last, in his family line is trebly significant, for he is preoccupied with death, with solitude, and with nostalgia. One notices that, again in contrast with many other similar novels, there is not one living character with whom he regularly engages or communicates. In Paris he is an observer, making notes about ordinary citizens, but never interacting with them.

He appears to be drawn to the eccentric and lost, the suffering and down-trodden, no doubt because he identifies with them, but he remains alone and isolated himself. Towards the end of the novel he states that he once felt a loneliness of such enormity that his heart was not equal to it.

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Malte is the kind of man who lives mostly in his head who, although he encourages his solitude, is scared of losing his connection with the world, of withdrawing and parting from it. At one point he goes to the library, and praises it as a place where people are so engrossed in their reading that they barely acknowledge each other.

He spends his time strolling to little shops, book dealers and antique places, that, he says, no one ever visits. Once more, we see an interest in obscure things, in things that have been forgotten or neglected. One of my favourite passages is when he comes upon a torn down building, and he states that it is the bit that is left that interests him, the last remaining wall with little bits of floor still visible. It is the suggestion of something once whole, once fully functioning that grabs his attention.

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One understands how this — his upbringing and family situation — may have gone some way to making him the man he is. He is taciturn, he says, and then notes how his father was too. His father was not fond of physical affection either.


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It is therefore not a surprise that he is highly sensitive, inward-looking and ill at ease with himself. Indeed, there is much in The Notebooks about identity and individuality.

RAINER MARIA RILKE - DIE AUFZEICHNUNGEN DES MALTE LAURIDS BRIGGE (Auszug)

There are, Malte says, no plurals, there is no women, only singularities; he baulks at the term family, saying that the four people under this umbrella did not belong together. Furthermore, at one stage he fools around, dressing up in different costumes, in which he feels more himself, not less; but then he tries on a mask and has some kind of emotional breakdown. There are numerous passages and quotes I could discuss or lift from the text, but, not wanting to ruin your own reading, I will focus on only one. When writing about individuality, Malte bemoans the fact, as he sees it, that people do not die their own deaths anymore, they die the death of their illness, they become their illness and their passing, therefore, has nothing to do with them.

No one.


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The old Chamberlain died extravagantly; his death was so huge that new wings of the house ought to have been built to accommodate it. He shouted and made demands, demands to see people — both living and dead — and demands to die. This voice plagued the locals, keeping them in a state of agitation; it was a voice louder than the church bells…it was the voice of death, not of Christoph, and it became the master, a more terrible master than the Chamberlain had ever been himself.

The point that Malte is making seems to be that one should not go gentle into that good night, that one should not accept the death that most pleases others, that causes the least amount of fuss. You will die, there is no escape, it is within you, your death, from the very first moment, you carry it with you at all times, but you do not have to go out with a whimper. I wrote at the beginning of this review that The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge is a failure as a novel and this probably warrants further explanation.

There is absolutely no plot, and many of the entries do not follow on from the previous one. Moreover, after a few pages about Paris, which I would guess serve to draw in a number of people, the focus abruptly shifts, and the book then becomes increasingly strange and elusive, with a relentless interiority. None of this bothers me, however. While I do hope to give up reading one day, I will, without question, carry this book around inside me for the rest of my life, rather like my death.

A beautiful writing, a beginning that carried me, but then I had a little more trouble. No real story, and as many of the topics discussed have spoken to me, so many others have left me quite cold relationships of historical characters. I know this book is a classic, and the style fully justifies it. But my weak attention span and the particular genre of the book actually neither novel nor story nor anything else allied against me when reading this book.

View all 3 comments. Mar 14, Andrew added it Shelves: german-language-fiction , pre-wwii-german-fiction. Dense, peculiar, at times impenetrable, at times utterly bursting with stunning imagery, this is an immensely difficult book to pin down. And it got under my skin. Proust crashing headlong into Dostoyevsky. This is what happens when a writer who is, at heart, a lyrical romantic faces the dawning industrial era with a combination of absolute trepidation and awe.

And if you live alone, in a foreign city, sure of not very much, your mind periodically drawn back to a childhood in a frigid Northern cl Dense, peculiar, at times impenetrable, at times utterly bursting with stunning imagery, this is an immensely difficult book to pin down.

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The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: A Novel - Rainer Maria Rilke - Google книги

And if you live alone, in a foreign city, sure of not very much, your mind periodically drawn back to a childhood in a frigid Northern clime, you'll be as devastated by it as I was, and you will climb up to the top of your building, look at the sun set in a language you barely speak, and you'll realize exactly where Rilke was coming from. View 1 comment. Sometimes choosing a star rating can be difficult.

That should really does get me and make me second guess my own opinion. Thank goodness goodreads allows so much space for someone to move beyond a simplistic star rating and to give lengthy descriptions of the different aspects of the books that reached him as well as provide rambling prefatory notes.

I actually cringed at certain passages which I thought were striving so hard to achieve profundity and reached odd at best.

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For one day I understood that his was at an end. And after that, whenever I felt it coming on, I stood on my side of the wall and begged him to make use of it. All fodder for some very profound revelations. Malte is definitely trying to live deep and suck out the marrow of life, to separate himself from the mass of men who lead lives of quiet desperation. He seeks to reveal the Truth to all of those around him, to rip away the false masks under which they live. Unfortunately, he is too awkward especially around girls and self-conscious and insecure.