Little Clothbound Classics are collectable, small format editions of short stories, novellas and essays that celebrate the range of the Penguin Classics list.
I was so thrilled to be sent two of these absolutely perfect little books courtesy of Penguin UK – Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke and Moonlight by Guy de Maupassant. Both authors are very familiar names to me but I had never read the work of either, so this was a wonderful opportunity to experience the words of these world-renowned writers.
Penguin’s Little Clothbound Classics are described as ‘irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world’s greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith. Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.‘
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Over the course of six years, Maria Rilke wrote a series of letters to a young officer cadet, advising him on writing, love, suffering and the nature of advice itself; these profound and lyrical letters have since become hugely influential for writers and artists of all kinds. This volume also contains the ‘Letter from a Young Worker’, a striking polemic against Christianity written too in letter form.
Letters to a Young Poet was first published in 1929, with a Letter from a Young Worker originally published in 1933. This latest clothbound edition from Penguin was published February 23rd and translated by Charlie Louth.
Letters to a Young Poet is a collection of letters that Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to Franz Xaver Kappus over a short number of years. These ten letters provide the reader with the most incredible insights into the mind of Rilke as he passed on his words of wisdom to Franz Xaver Kappus, a young and impressionable cadet based in the Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt. Each letter is well deliberated on, providing enlightenment and encouragement to inspiring poets and writers that is still relevant today.
“Read as little as possible in the way of aesthetics and criticism – it will either be partisan views , fossilized and made meaningless in its lifeless rigidity, or it will be neat wordplay, where one opinion will triumph one day and the opposite the next. Works of art are infinitely solitary and nothing is less likely to reach them than criticism. Only love can grasp them and hold them and do them justice.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
The loneliness of an artist and writer can be a very profound experience. Many, over the years, have taken comfort and have felt their creativity enriched, by taking strength from the messages conveyed within these pages. Letters to a Young Poet, including, Letter from a Young Worker, is an outstanding collection. It is a perfect introduction to Rilke’s work and into the mind of this most humble of men.
“Where a great and unique person speaks, the rest of us should be silent”
– Franz Xaver Kappus, Berlin, June 1929.
Moonlight by Guy de Maupassant
Often described as the father of the modern short story, there is perhaps no other writer more closely associated with the form than Guy de Maupassant. Included here is his most famous story, ‘Boule de Suif’, as well as tales of love, such as the brilliant ‘Happiness’, and the supernatural, like the chilling ‘The Horla’.
Moonlight by Guy de Maupassant is a collection of short stories taken from A Parisian Affair and Other Stories (2004). It was published by Penguin as a Little Clothbound Classic on February 23rd and is translated by Siân Miles.
Containing seven stories, this selection provides the novice reader of his work, with a glorious insight into his writing. de Maupassant captures a glimpse of life in France in the late 1800s. A student of Flaubert, and a member of the Naturalist Literary movement, he became known as a master of the short story with his concise style and his portrayal of humanity at any given moment in time.
Remarkably observed, these stories are all of significance, economical in style and wonderfully astute. Moonlight is an excellent introduction to the writings of a man, who held certain sectors of society in disdain and used his pen to express his words and thoughts in a succinct and highly amusing manner.