Thursday, February 2, 2012

Aimless Reading: The R's, Part 12.1 (Rainer Maria Rilke)

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
Rilke, Rainer Maria
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

I am not sure where I bought this, but I am pretty sure this is not the copy I read. I have a memory of reading a borrowed copy during or just after college and then buying this one years later. This could be a false memory. One thing I do recall clearly is that I learned the word "purblind" reading this book.

The word, which means, "Having impaired or defective vision. Slow or unable to understand; dim-witted," appears on the first page of this translation and I have never understood how the translator intended it.

He writes:

Then I saw a curiously purblind house; it was not to be found on a map, but above the door there stood, still fairly legible: Asyle de nuit. 

What is he saying here? That the house has impaired vision? That it is slow and dim-witted? It's always seemed that he must be saying something else, like "obscure" or "half-hidden." There is nothing before, during or after the description to indicate what the house personified so should signify.

I can say that I picked up some vocabulary from this book, but not much in the way of usage.

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