The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

I wrote this for class about Rainer Maria Rilke's book, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge:

I have been talking about this book to my friends the way I used to talk about the Bible, "You have to read this book. Right now.” It was a revelation of the power and beauty and possibility of metaphor in prose; the way the world can be so clearly evoked by describing it in a completely foreign way: death becomes an entity inside everyone or a coat they must put on; buildings and footsteps and take on a mysterious life of their own. Metaphor is almost too small a word for the things that Rilke writes in this book. The word metaphor reminds me of high school English classes, while Malte's metaphors take on a life of their own. They lend everything a surreal quality until Malte's world becomes a strange place full of secrets.

As I read this book I felt something between anger and astonishment, not at the book, but at all those who have read this book and neglected to tell me about it. But perhaps it would not have meant so much if I had read it earlier. This fall I turned 28, and moved to New York to begin, I hope, something like a career in writing, so when Malte writes "I think I should being to do some work, now that I am learning to see. I am twenty-eight years old, and I have done practically nothing," I felt the thrill of recognition. The beauty of his language and clarity of his thought never ceased to challenge and inspire me.