Rilke's Fourth Duino Elegy (1915) offers a poetic solution to the philosophical problem of self-consciousness posed by Kleist's 1810 essay “On the Marionette Theater” (“Über das Marionettentheater”). Although it is well known that philosophical concepts inform Rilke's poetry, most criticism has failed to pay adequate attention to the poet's contributions to philosophical inquiry. After all, it is simpler to present a poetic interpretation “from” a philosophical perspective than to present one that speaks to a philosophical problem. However, a close examination of Elegy IV demonstrates not merely a poetic reinterpretation of a philosophical problem but a significant contribution to and reconfiguration of one.

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