Rilke's Poetics of Becoming

Ben Hutchinson

Legenda (General Series)


5 September 2006  •  222pp

ISBN: 978-1-904350-53-8 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95

ISBN: 978-1-351196-39-0 (Taylor & Francis ebook)


Rainer Maria Rilke's early verse is often seen as having little relevance to the great achievement of the middle years, the Neue Gedichte. Yet the very different styles of the juvenilia and this 'new' maturity are united by a preoccupation with processes of motion and growth which governs both his life and work. In this meticulous philological study, Ben Hutchinson reassesses Rilke's early poetry at every level, from its motives and metaphors to its very grammar and syntax. With careful attention to rhythm, resonance and linguistic detail, he illuminates both the hidden patterns of the poetry and the artistic context of the fin de siècle. From its roots in the intellectual climate of the 1890s to the poems inspired by Rodin and published in 1908, Rilke's stylistic development is set against the surprising consistency with which he pursues this poetics of becoming.

Ben Hutchinson is currently Theodor Heuss Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach am Neckar.


  • ‘Eine sorgfältige und konzentrierte Analyse der Dichtungen des jungen Rilke... Die sehr gut lesbare und Beachtung verdienende Studie von Ben Hutchinson hat hier einen bemerkenswerten Schritt auf dem Weg zu einem umfassenden Rilke-Verständnis getan.’ — Sascha Löwenstein, IASLonline online
  • ‘Overall this is a well-written book, offering both a coherent original thesis and perceptive analyses of individual poems.’ — Helen Bridge, Modern Language Review 103.1, January 2008, 282-83 (full text online)
  • ‘A judicious study of impressive scope.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 47.4, 2011, 480

Bibliography entry:

Hutchinson, Ben, Rilke's Poetics of Becoming (Legenda, 2006)

First footnote reference: 35 Ben Hutchinson, Rilke's Poetics of Becoming (Legenda, 2006), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Hutchinson, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Hutchinson, Ben. 2006. Rilke's Poetics of Becoming (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Hutchinson 2006: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Hutchinson 2006: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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