Rilke had few masters, and no disciples; in a literal sense, his work is self-contained. It has never become an undisputed part of the 20th century literary canon, though it illustrates in exemplary fashion a discernible aspect of Modernism: the conscious turning-aside from the centrifugal tendencies of the modern age and the creation of an imaginative world scarcely shaped by historical or social realities. That his writing has continued to exert a powerful fascination on those – individuals, rather than groups – who accept its spell can perhaps be explained in terms of the magnetic attraction of willed self-sufficiency. In his work as in his life, Rilke demanded to be accepted on his own terms; and work and life were for him (as, in a different mode, for Kafka) indistinguishable. The project of shaping one’s life into a work of art is a familiar Romantic enterprise, which Rilke carried to an extreme of dedication. At 27, he could confidently maintain: ‘He who creates must be a world for himself, and find everything within himself.’
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I have just spent a wonderful few minutes re-reading the best book review of the year in my opinion. It's by Piers Brendon in September's issue of @Lit_Review. Beautifully captioned as 'Jack the Lad', Brendon takes Fredrik Logevall's JFK: Vol.I apart! It's a laugh a minute. Ouch!
'Perhaps the real modern polymaths are the hidden ones who do not themselves grab the limelight but have the expertise to bring together different fields of knowledge: librarians, teachers, editors of literary journals…'
Jan Morris, who died last week, was a much-loved contributor to our pages. In 2017, she wrote a characteristically witty article about the different winds, their various personalities and how they had touched her life: https://literaryreview.co.uk/let-it-blow.