I'm more interested in certain passages that I find extremely alluring but that I'm convinced are not entirely true. This one, for example:
And let me promptly make a request: read as little as possible of aesthetic criticism--such things are either partisan views, petrified and grown senseless in their lifeless induration, or they are clever quibblings in which today one view wins and tomorrow the opposite. Works of art are of an infinite loneliness and with nothing so little to be reached as with criticism.So much of the passage seems exactly right. Yes, criticism is often "petrified and grown senseless," often nothing more than "clever quibbling." Yes, yes yes, "works of art are of an infinite loneliness." But what about a poet's urge to draw together the "partisan views" that she has gathered from her own intense engagement with literature? What about this very letter that Rilke is writing to Kappus, in which he is telling the young man how to think about poetry and books and sexual desire? It seems to me that Rilke is writing exactly the sort of prose that he is warning Kappus not to read.
But I will stop talking now. What attracted or repelled you about these two letters?