Pushkin lands 'sensational' Sackville-West translation of Rilke poetry cycle

Pushkin lands 'sensational' Sackville-West translation of Rilke poetry cycle

Pushkin Press is to republish Vita Sackwille-West's English translation of Duino Elegies, a poetry cycle by Rainer Maria Rilke.

The publication will mark the first time the English translation has been released in 90 years, and will feature an introduction and forward by Rilke critic and writer Lesley Chamberlain. Chamberlain discovered the translation in the course of her work on a new book about the poet, Rilke: The Last Inward Man, forthcoming from Pushkin in spring 2022.

The poems were first translated into English and published in 1931, a few years after they originally appeared in German. Translated by writers Vita Sackville-West and Edward Sackville-West, the edition appeared in a few hundred copies published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s publishing house Hogarth Press, and has not been republished since, Pushkin Press said. 

The publisher has acquired world English rights to the translations of the Duino Elegies, from Norah Perkins at Curtis Brown, acting on behalf of the estates, and will republish them in December in a hardback edition.  

"It is wonderful to have this pioneering translation available, bringing this great poet once more in front of an English-reading public in Pushkin’s sensational new edition," commented Juliet Nicolson, from the estate of Vita Sackville-West, and Richard Shone, from the estate of Edward Sackville-West

Adam Freudenheim, publisher and m.d. of Pushkin Press, said: "I have long been slightly obsessed with Rilke’s poetry and in particular the angels in his Duino Elegies, so when Lesley told me about the Sackville-Wests’ translation I knew right away we had to find a way to republish them and am thrilled we’re now able to do so."