Thursday, February 2, 2012
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.
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.