RILKE – GELESEN NACH, GESCHRIEBEN VOR AUSCHWITZ. EINIGE BEMERKUNGEN
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Rilke – read after, written before Auschwitz (a few notes)
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The title and conceptualization of this text were inspired by the important book by Victor Klemperer “Before 33/after 45” (1956). The author tries to argue that the poet who lived and wrote before 1933 (Rainer Maria Rilke died in December 1926), would not be so widely read and interpreted today had he lived and written in the period of the Third Reich. The author uses Rilke´s letters, memoirs, works and the other documents in this article as a figure of a clairvoyance in the same sense in which it was understood by the Polish poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid (1821-1883): “A clairvoyance has two sources: either wisdom, or désinteressement.” This clairvoyance becomes obvious when we compare – as Giorgio Agamben has done – fragments from Rilke´s novel Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (1910, that is, before World War I) with the figure of the concentration camp “musulman” (which appears in Primo Levi´s books). The comparison has to do with the encounter of the bare face with reality and the relevant consequences that arise from this encounter. However, we find any clairvoyance neither in Rilke´s correspondence, nor in the memories of his friends, who often describe the poet´s ambivalent behaviour. Also, the author found it important to point out German and Polish reception of Rilke between 1933 and 1945. Her findings confirm the hypothesis about Rilke´s ambivalent attitude toward Jews and anti-Semitism.
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