A ground-breaking masterpiece of early European modernism originally published in 1910, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge unspools the vivid reflections of the titular young Danish nobleman and poet. From his Paris garret, Brigge records his encounters with the city and its outcasts, muses on his family history and lays bare his earliest experiences of fear, tenderness and desolation. With a poet’s feel for language and a keen instinct for storytelling, Rainer Maria Rilke forges a dazzlingly fractured coming-of-age narrative, kaleidoscopic in its alternation of vivid present encounters and equally alive memories of childhood.
Strikingly contemporary, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge reveals a writer metabolizing his own experiences to yield still-essential questions about fiction and reality, empathy and psychosis and-above all-life, love and death. In a fascinating introduction, award-winning translator Edward Snow explores the overlaps between Rilke’s experiences and those of his protagonist, and shows with granular attention the novel’s capacity for nuance and sympathy. Snow’s exquisite translation captures as never before the astonishing cadences and musical clarity of the poet’s prose.
It reveals The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge as an urgent contemporary achievement, more than one hundred years after it was written.