Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910)
A longer stay in Paris in 1902/03 inspired Rilke to write an account about his experiences gained in the French capital. He finished his work several years and working interruptions later in 1910. But by then, he hadn?t any longer written a simple account about his impressions of everyday life in Paris, he had written a novel which reflected also his ways of thinking changed over the course of years.
The Notebooks consist of 71 fragments, being the notes of the young Danish writer Malte Laurids Brigge. Arranged in the form of a diary, Malte?s notes consist, roughly speaking, of three parts: his experiences in Paris, reminiscences of his childhood and reflections about historical personalities. -- The first part is dominated by his intense impressions of everyday life in Paris, a life full of stench, dirt, illness, and death, but also a life full of technological change and increasing anonymity. The second part becomes somewhat quieter in tone, as Malte remembers his childhood on Danish castles, his encounters with the supernatural and his difficult family life. The last part is the most demanding one, as there are reflections about kings, saints and medieval women poets (which reflect clearly Rilke's own opinion).
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge are a varied collection of impressions, reminiscences, thoughts, fears and reflections. They are the authentic and moving description of a sensitive life, whose acts and thoughts are influenced by non-existing family ties and a feeling of social estrangement. It is a story of the (unconscious) search for something which might be able to provide the lonely protagonist what he had been forced to do without and always longed for ? stability and security. Written in a beautiful language full of deep emotions and moving descriptions, we recognise in Malte the Uprooted, the Insecure, the Seeker, someone who hasn't found yet the meaning of his life. If you decide to let yourself in for the story, you will be rewarded with a profound and thoughtful novel about the difficult search for one?s own identity.
(I'm so proud. My first review. )