RILKE, Rainer Maria.

Die Sonette an Orpheus.

Geschrieben als ein grab-mal für Wera Ouckama Knoop.

Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1923 Stock Code: 101198
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Rilke's masterpiece, deluxe issue, one of 100 copies

First edition, deluxe issue, number 7 of 100 copies specially bound, from a limited edition of 300 numbered copies printed on handmade paper by W. Drugulin. Die Sonette an Orpheus (The Sonnets to Orpheus) is considered, along with the Duino Elegies, as Rilke's masterpiece. They were composed in what the author described as a "savage creative storm" during February 1922. The dedicatee was Wera Ouckama Knoop (1900-1919), whose death from leukemia inspired the sonnets. The 19-year old dancer and musician was the daughter of Rilke's friend Gerhard Ouckama-Knoop, and a close friend of his own daughter Ruth.

David Young notes in introducing his 1987 English translation of the Sonnets, that Rilke "does not center his poem on love for a particular person, but writes instead a kind of extended love-poem to the world, celebrating such diverse love-objects as mirrors, dogs, fruit, ancient sarcophagi, roses, a strip of cloth, unicorns, breathing and childhood."

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Octavo (214 x 139 mm). Bound for the publishers by H. Sperling in blue calf, titles to spine gilt with raised bands, boards ruled in gilt, gilt and green painted endpapers, turn-ins and top edge gilt. Housed in a custom blue quarter morocco solander box.


Faint ink stamp to title page. Spine slightly faded, a little wear to tips and spine, internally fine; an excellent copy.


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