A Little Rilke for Your Troubles

I am trying to purge old books and finding it very difficult. Was ready to throw away 1990 paperback of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke, then happened upon this passage and no longer want to part with it:

“It would be difficult to persuade me that the story of the Prodigal Son is not the legend of a man who didn’t want to be loved. When he was a child, everyone in the house loved him. He grew up not knowing it could be any other way and got used to their tenderness, when he was a child.

But as a boy he tried to lay aside these habits. He wouldn’t have been able to say it, but when he spent the whole day roaming around outside and didn’t even want to have the dogs with him, it was because they too loved him; because in their eyes he could see observation and sympathy, expectation, concern; because in their presence too he couldn’t do anything without giving pleasure or pain. But what he wanted in those days was that profound indifference of heart which sometimes, early in the morning, in the fields, seized him with such purity that he had to start running, in order to have no time or breath to be more than a weightless moment in which the morning becomes consciousness itself.” (pp 251-252, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Translated by Stephen Mitchell)

2 thoughts on “A Little Rilke for Your Troubles

  1. I have books on my shelf that I will never reread (seriously, my days of reading Old French are long behind me) but I so loved reading them that I cannot bear to let them go, like mementos of old loves.

  2. Pingback: The Notebooks Malte Laurids Brigge

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