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About the Author

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), born in Prague into a German-speaking family, is widely recognized as one of the world's great poets. He is the author of the novel The Notebook of Malte Laurids Brigge and several books of poetry, including The Book of Hours, The Book of Images, New Poems, The Life of the Virgin Mary, The Duino Elegies, and Sonnets to Orpheus. He wrote approximately about fifteen thousand letters to an enormous range of recipients. Letters to a Young Poet and Letters on Life have inspired countless readers.

Ulrich Baer was educated at Harvard and Yale and has been awarded John Simon Guggenheim, DAAD, Paul Getty, and Alexander von Humboldt fellowships. He is Vice Provost and Professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University. His previous books include Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan, Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma, The Rilke Alphabet, Beggar's Chicken: Stories from Shanghai, and We Are But a Moment. He edited 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11, and edited and translated Letters on Life: New Prose Translations, published by the Modern Library.


"Even though each of these letters of condolence is personalized with intimate detail, together they hammer home Rilke's remarkable truth about the death of another: that the pain of it can force us into a 'deeper . . . level of life' and render us more 'vibrant.' Here we have a great poet's reflections on our greatest mystery."--Billy Collins

"A treasure . . . The solace Rilke offers is uncommon, uplifting and necessary."--The Guardian "As we live our lives, it is possible to feel not sadness or melancholy but a rush of power as the life of others passes into us. This rhapsodic volume teaches us that death is not a negation but a deepening experience in the onslaught of existence. What a wise and victorious book!"--Henri Cole

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