Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German


Foreign Languages




Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Love in literature



Physical Description

1 online resource (84 p.)


The topic of this thesis is the problem of love in the work and life of Rainer Maria Rilke, especially his notion of “non-possessive love” which has given rise to a great deal of controversy in the Rilke-Literature.

The essential motive underlying the thesis is my concern for the relationship between art and life, and specifically the conflict between the demands of intellectual and spiritual development and the biological-social imperatives to which the artist, like all human beings, is subject. To speak in general terms, my interest in Rilke’s view of love is part of a broad study of alienated and rebellious individualists, bent on developing themselves at all costs in an environment which is hostile to their inner impulses, and for whom the problem of love has been a focal point of their conflict with themselves and the world. The view of love put forth by such individualists as Kierkegaard, Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Shaw, Unamuno, Camus, Sartre, - to name only a few authors mentioned in my bibliography – despite their many individual variations, have at least these characteristics in common: they are penetrating, uncompromising, unsentimental and disquieting. The same holds true for Rilke’s view of love. Rilke emphatically opposed the values implicit and explicit in the notions and practices of his culture in the areas of the relations between the sexes, the institution of marriage, the status of women and the function of sex in the life of the individual. Furthermore, his own experience, which, as he often pointed out, was by no means meant to be exemplary or typical, led him to investigate and reflect upon the nature of love as a principle of nature and of the human psyche. The fruit of this preoccupation was a fascinating, very complicated body of writings in which the problem of love plays a major role.

In investigating this theme my primary aim has been to accurately represent and illuminate what Rilke meant by his provocative and often obscure statements about love; that is, it is first and foremost and interpretative paper.


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A thesis submitted in the partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in German

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