Text-corporeality and the Double Rend of the Page: The Specter of the Manuscript in Rilke’s Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge

Jacob Haubenreich


This article explores the processes by which descriptions of bodily fragmentation and flesh in Rilke’s Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge emerge out of the material practices of writing. Traces of this process remain in the largest surviving portion of the manuscript, the so-called “Berner Taschenbuch,” a facsimile of which was released in 2012. I argue that the messy wounds of ink and paper profoundly shaped the thematics and form of the novel and thereby became incorporated into the figures and imagery of the printed work, which, in turn, forever bears the spectral presence of these original materialities. In the first section, various passages are analyzed alongside their manuscript pages to explicate the productive process by which ink and paper become figured in the content of the novel itself. The second section turns to the work of Gilles Deleuze and Georges Didi-Huberman to suggest that the materiality and visuality of the manuscript produce a rend in the skin of the printed text, allowing the materialities of writing to surge through the fissures in its seemingly smooth surface. The materialities of writing and of the manuscript thereby invade the reader’s bodily experience during reading, allowing him to imagine the decimated flesh of a virtual manuscript lying beneath the mask of the printed text and haunting it like a specter. (JH)

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