"As a Poet he is known to all of Russia": A rather Fruitful Malentendu: Rilke and Spiridon Drožžin

Alessandro Achilli

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Rilke's interest in Russia and Russian culture is a well-established topic in the study of modern German-Slavic literary relationships. Nevertheless, scholars have paid little attention to Rilke's exaggerated enthusiasm for the poetry of Spiridon Drožžin, a self-taught peasant-poet whom he visited during his second Russian trip in 1900. Rilke translated some poems by Drožžin and considered him one of the best living Russian literates. A possible explanation for Rilke's unjustified captivation with the writings of a minor poet is to be found in the partial consonance of the prevailing imagery in Drožžin's poems with Rilke's own imagery in the three parts of his first masterpiece Das Stunden-Buch. The last part of this article is devoted to the idea of malentendu and its possible application to the case of Rilke's involvement in Drožžin's poetry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-228
Number of pages14
JournalZeitschrift für Slawistik
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Drožžin
  • German-Russian literary relationships
  • malentendu
  • Rilke and Russia
  • Russian peasant poetry

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