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RILKE, Rainer Maria.

Die Sonette an Orpheus.

Geschrieben als ein grab-mal für Wera Ouckama Knoop.

Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1923 Stock Code: 132293
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Presentation copy

First edition, presentation copy, inscribed by the author on what is believed to be the original binder's blank, "Â Madame Cella Delavrancea Lahovary, hommages dévonés Rainer Maria Rilke (Paris, en mars 1923)". Cella Delavrancea was a Romanian pianist and member of Rilke's literary coterie; a sketch of him is included in her collection of writings A Century of Life (1987). The work was later presented again by Delavrancea to the Romanian philosopher, with a second inscription in Romanian by Delavrancea at the head of the same page, "Dar din dar, lui Mircea Vulcănescu, pentru ca; sunt deschise partiile Infinitidiu Cella Delavrancea 9 lee 1944" "But for the gift, to Mircea Vulcanescu, because; the partila Infinitidiu are open, Cella Delavrancea, 9 January 1944". Vulcănescu was Undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance of the Nazi-aligned government of Ion Antonescu from 1941 to 1944. It is likely Delavrancea, who was in a relationship with Vulcanescu's fellow philosopher Nae Ionescu, had the work rebound at this time. A further inscription, which appears to be an initial attempt by Delavrancea, has been erased from the same page. Die Sonette an Orpheus is considered, along with the Duino Elegies, as Rilke's masterpiece. This copy is from a limited edition of 300 numbered copies printed on handmade paper by Wilhelm Drugulin. 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 leukaemia 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.

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Octavo (220 x 135 mm). Mid-20th-century green half morocco, titles to spine in gilt, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt.


Small paper repair to pp. 23-4. Slight wear to leather of spine, occasional foxing to contents, a very good copy indeed.


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