Rainer Maria Rilke, regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest poets, began each workday with two pens-one for doing work, from which flowed volumes of poems and a single novel, and the other for correspondence, paying bills, and responding to requests. While much of the world came to appreciate Rilke’s verses, either translated or in their original German, many of his other writings, which often influenced his published works and reveal his personal philosophies, were lost to history…until now. New York University Professor Ulrich Baer, who spent three years locating the widely scattered editions of Rilke’s correspondence, some of which is only available in archives and libraries in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States, translated many of Rilke’s writings, which were published this month as The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke (Modern Library/Random House). “Professor Baer’s book is the best of its kind I have ever encountered,” writes Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Franz Wright. “Ulrich Baer uniquely makes available Rilke’s bittersweet apprehensions of the objective realities-of-desire,” adds Harold Bloom.

Rilke’s work also touched Baer in a way that allowed him to see the force of poet’s writings through translation. Seeking an appropriate poem for his father’s funeral in Germany, Baer instead chose a passage from one of Rilke’s letters. “I read these words in German at that occasion and then translated them and additional passages from German, and occasionally French, into English,” Baer writes. “The movement from German into English also afforded me a way to relive and re-experience, now more consciously through the task of translation, my own first, joyous encounters with Rilke’s words.”

The audiobook of Poet’s Guide to Life is read by actor Ethan Hawke (“Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset”).

Reporters interested in speaking with Baer should contact James Devitt, Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or james.devitt@nyu.edu.

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