I’ve so enjoyed reading your comments on the last post – that kind of spontaneous and interesting discussion is one of the reasons why I am so very fond of the interwebz. Thankyou. You have made me question my half-baked anglocentric thoughts about that poem, and inspired me to brush up my German. I was particularly intrigued by the different cultural connotations of a planted ‘avenue,’ and was very struck by Stella’s marvelous rendering of ‘treiben’ into a ‘conspiracy of leaves’. Séverine was wondering why I mentioned Rilke in the first place: well, I suppose that he is one of those poets who, like Arthur Clough, or John Ashberry, I have always enjoyed but have never developed any sort of academic interest in. And I suppose, too, that simply sorting through my books has made me reflect on the various continuities and discontinuities in my reading. It seemed curious to me that, while I had no qualms in getting rid of whole boxes of literary theory, and novels of all kinds, I absolutely had to keep all of the poetry.

But I fear that your congratulations on the ‘cleanness’ of my break with the books may be premature. I woke up on Monday night worrying that the Italienische Reise had found its way into one of the disposed-of boxes… Happily, I got up to discover Goethe in his right place in the ‘kept’ pile, and today I also heard the heartening news that my friend Claire has found my missing copy of Sartor Resartus (apparently lent to her some years ago), so all is right with the world. But, inbetween my frequent rests (fatigue hovers around the edges of everything at the moment) the rearranging continues. Yesterday it began to annoy me that, while I had got rid of Eliza Haywood and Amelia Opie, authors such as Brett Easton Ellis, Zadie Smith, and Jeanette bloody Winterson (Art Objects is almost as ridiculous as her views on homeopathic medicine) remained on my shelves. Needless to say, Winterson is now correctly located in the large ‘get rid of’ pile that is developing in the kitchen. And I was just about to dispose of Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland, but I turned to the flyleaf and disovered a quotation from Rilke that I had written there in 1993. I put it back on the shelf.