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Opening with a brief account of the life and work of the early 20th Century German-language poet Rainer Maria Rilke, the book then has its first major set piece, a lengthy and provocative selection from his prose writings on death, for him the most important topic of all.

This is followed by a light-hearted account of Rilke´s surprising popularity in the U. S. of A., even extending to Hollywood. A short chapter on Rilke´s obsession with the scientific accuracy of his poetry and another on his poetic humor, prepare the reader for the second major set piece of the book --- a revealing look at his masterwork on death, the 860-line poem Duinese Elegies. The book closes with appendices on Rilke and god, translating Rilke, and a listing of the nearly 30 English translations of Duinese Elegies.

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