Tag: Books: German Literature


So You Want to Read… (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Posted 17 November, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 1 Comment

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

And here we are, it’s November…For this edition of So You Want to Read…, I decided to feature Rainer Maria Rilke (see author tag). His poetry seems fitting for these autumn days when the temperatures are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and you’ve broken out your sweaters and off to Starbucks for their seasonal items. I got around to reading his poetry in 2015 and just fell in love with his work and the nature imagery and his choice of words to express certain feelings…Anyway, here’s my recommendations on where to start if you’ve never read any of his work:

  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Briggs (review) — This is the only novel he’s every written and it’s more of an experience as the main character finds himself reminiscing about the past and experiences he had. All the while he’s meditating on a number of different topics and ideas. And did I mention it was beautifully written? 🙂
  • Letters to a Young Poet — I could’ve sworn I had reviewed it at some point as a mini-review but anyway, definitely required reading for everyone who’s into writing. His letters are encouraging, thoughtful and meditative, and overall just a boost-me-up especially when you find yourself wondering if your writing will make it or if it’s worth it. It’s also an interesting look at the way he approaches writing.
  • Duino Elegies (review) — I read this as part of The Poety of Rilke (see review). This one stood out for me with the mix of nature and religious themes, the contemplation of life, death, and existence, and contains some of the most stunning lines I’ve read from him. Of all of his poetry, it’s a good place to start just to get a sense of how he writes an what he writes about.



And that’s my list! I hope it helps 🙂 If you’ve read any of Rainer Maria Rilke’s works, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Review: The Fox Was Ever the Hunter

Posted 10 November, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Fox Was Ever the Hunter
By: Herta Müller, Philip Boehm (Translation)
Format/Source: eBook courtesy of the publishers via a giveaway contest held by guiltless reading

An early masterpiece from the winner of the Nobel Prize hailed as the laureate of life under totalitarianism

Romania—the last months of the Ceausescu regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara’s lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on all of the group.

One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another occasion it’s the hindleg. Then a foreleg. The mutilated fur is a sign that she is being tracked by the secret police—the fox was ever the hunter.

Images of photographic precision combine into a kaleidoscope of terror as Adina and her friends struggle to keep mind and body intact in a world pervaded by complicity and permeated with fear, where it’s hard to tell victim from perpetrator.

In The Fox Was Always a Hunter, Herta Müller once again uses language that displays the “concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose”—as the Swedish Academy noted upon awarding her the Nobel Prize—to create a hauntingly cinematic portrayal of the corruption of the soul under totalitarianism.

I haven’t read much literature set in the Ceausescu regime, so the premise of this novel plus the fact that it won a Nobel Prize in literature definitely caught my attention. I won a copy to read from a giveaway contest hosted by guiltless reading.

Read More

Review: The Poetry of Rilke

Posted 27 October, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Poetry of Rilke
By: Rainer Maria Rilke
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

For the past twenty-five years, North Point Press has been working with Edward Snow, “Rilke’s best contemporary translator” (Brian Phillips, The New Republic), to bring into English Rilke’s major poetic works. The Poetry of Rilke—the single most comprehensive volume of Rilke’s German poetry ever to be published in English—is the culmination of this effort. With more than two hundred and fifty selected poems by Rilke, including complete translations of the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies, The Poetry of Rilke spans the arc of Rilke’s work, from the breakthrough poems of The Book of Hours to the visionary masterpieces written only weeks before his death. This landmark bilingual edition also contains all of Snow’s commentaries on Rilke, as well as an important new introduction by the award-winning poet Adam Zagajewski. The Poetry of Rilke will stand as the authoritative single-volume translation of Rilke into English for years to come.

Okay, I’m on a bit of a reading spree with Rainer Maria Rilke. I read his only fictional title, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (review), earlier this year and absolutely adored it, and it prompted me to finally check out his poetry. I’m thankful that an edition such as this exists; I always enjoy reading poetry and plays in the bilingual format (the original on the left, the translated English on the right). Sure, I only know like, a handful of words in German, but it’s still cool.

Read More

Review: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted 17 October, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
By: Rainer Maria Rilke
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

‘There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several.’

While his old furniture rots in storage, Malte Laurids Brigge lives in a cheap room in Paris, with little but a library reader’s card to distinguish him from the city’s untouchables. Every person he sees seems to carry their death with them, and he thinks of the deaths, and ghosts, of his aristocratic family, of which only he remains. The only novel by one of the greatest writers of poetry in German, the semi-autobiographical Notebooks is an uneasy, compelling and poetic book that anticipated Sartre and is full of passages of lyrical brilliance.

I picked this book up on a whim when Pocket Penguins were introduced earlier this year. Firstly, I love how stunning this new series is; the covers are simple, similar to the Little Black Classics, but they are colour-coded depending on which country they’re from (in this case, olive green for German literature). Aside from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, I actually haven’t read any of Rilke’s poetry or works so I thought this would be a good introduction to his writings.

Read More

Review: The Hottest Dishes of Tartar Cuisine

Posted 12 August, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Hottest Dishes of Tartar Cuisine
By: Alina Bronsky
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, “stupid Sulfia,” is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa’s surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother’s eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.

I believe I first encountered this book while browsing a list on GoodReads on translated literature. The premise sounded oddly amusing, but it’s also placed in a setting that I like reading from (in and around the Soviet period) plus I read good things about the author online (award-winning and all). So I finally caved last year and picked it up after staring at it for a good long time 🙂

Read More