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Rainer Maria Rilke
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    (December 4, 1875-December 29, 1926)
    Born in Prague, Czech Republic
    At his date of birth, Prague was part of Austria-Hungary
    Birth name is René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke
    Wrote 'The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge' (1910), 'Sonnets to Orpheus' (1923), 'Duino Elegies' (1923) and 'Letters to a Young Poet' (1934)
    His mother, grieving for his dead sister, pretended he was a girl.
    He had an affair with a married woman 14 years his senior.
    He changed his first name to 'Rainer' because his lover thought 'René' was effeminate.
    He left his wife and baby daughter after one year of marriage.
    It took him over ten years to finish 'Duino Elegies.'
    Friends in high places ensured he did not have to serve on the front during World War I.
    His father forced him to attend a military academy for five years.
    He championed the sculptor Auguste Rodin.
    He was drafted into the German army at age 40.
    He wrote positively about Islam.
    His vivid lyrics or 'thing poems' helped modernize German poetry.
    Little known in his own time, his admirers today range from Thomas Pynchon to Jane Fonda.
    Artistic teens often receive 'Letters to a Young Poet' as a gift.

Credit: Georgina

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