The poet Rainer Maria Rilke's only novel-format work, generally thought to be somewhat autobiographical, at least of the author's inward life, if not all the specific external details of it.

Brigge, the protagonist of the novel, is a dispossessed and isolated scion of an aristocratic Danish family which we see (via Brigge's reminisces) in the process of disintegrating in the midst of its own muffled, paralytic, dust-choked heaviness and ghost-ridden history.

Filled to overflowing with the author's painfully empathic, almost psychic sensitivity and observations on the hellishness of that quality amidst the noise and confusion and chaos of the world he has arrived in, contrasted with the equally painful burden of the static, soulless, formal ritualism overlying his childhood days, the "novel" eschews much in the way of traditional plot development, but paints a series of scenes from the central character's life and involuntary spiritual voyeurism of others, his memories, and obsessions, with poetic vividness and a tangible woundedness that is overpoweringly genuine and affecting without ever seeming affected.

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