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Neil Williamson

Rilke is essentially a poet and thus, even in his prose writing, words can be rich in resonances, connotations and associations. Indeed, Rilke uses words to try to allude to truths which cannot be rendered directly.

Neil Williamson was born in Leicester (UK) in 1949 and graduated in German Language and Literature at Manchester University in 1970, taking mainly literature options in his final year and ‘The Works of Kafka’ as a special research project. He gained an M.A. in Modern German Literature from University College London in 1972, writing another thesis on Kafka’s major novels, but continuing to study Rilke: in fact he had the time to read the complete collection of his letters and was fortunate to attend a course on him taught by a native speaker who shed fascinating light on Rilke’s language at the level of individual words.

After two years’ teaching in Germany he then worked for more than thirty years as a teacher of German and French in the UK but on retirement from teaching in 2005 was anxious to keep his German ‘alive’ and therefore took the Institute of Linguists exams in January 2006 to gain a Diploma in Translation.

Since then he has done a lot of free-lance translation work, mainly related to the arts and tourism. He has been delighted to be involved in this project: he has had a long interest in literature (and since retiring from teaching has been able to read so much more); he also much enjoyed the challenge posed by Rilke in both university courses; and he hopes this project may bring Rilke to a new and much larger audience!

Neil maintains a profile page on

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