Dear Friend

Trade Cloth – $39.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-1567-5

Trade Paper – $21.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1819-5
Publication Date
April 2000
Page Count
276 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Dear Friend

Rainer Maria Rilke and Paula Modersohn-Becker
Eric Torgersen

In 1908, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote "Requiem for a Friend" in memory of Paula Modersohn-Becker, the German painter who had profoundly affected him and who had died a year earlier. Although a great modern painter, Modersohn-Becker is remembered primarily as she is portrayed in Rilke's poem. Dear Friend looks at the relationship of two great artists whose often-strained friendship was extraordinary for both.

About the Author

Eric Torgersen has published five volumes of poetry, two novellas, and the NBA-nominated Dear Friend: Rainer Maria Rilke and Paula Modersohn-Becker. Born in Huntington, New York, he has a BA in German Literature from Cornell and an MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa. He spent two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia (a time he draws on for the novella entitled Ethiopia). He has retired after forty years of teaching, thirty-eight of them at Central Michigan University. He lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, with his wife, the quilt artist Ann Kowaleski, and now writes almost daily when not traveling.

"It was not until I read 'Requiem for a Friend' in Eric Torgersen's translation that I understood what a great and tragic poem it is: guilt-ridden, impassioned, intimate, a sublimated howl. Torgersen's version is one of those rare complete successes in the absolutely impossible art of translation." --Galway Kinnell
"A brilliant and valuable study, written with grace and passion, Torgesen's work could scarcely be bettered, both for the delight of reading it provides and for the insights into the lives it exposes." --Choice

"As a guide through the intersecting lives and relevant work of Rilke, Modersohn-Becker, and Westhoff, this study has qualitatively and in its focus no parallel in either English or German."

—Reinhold Heller, University of Chicago