Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sarkozy et Rilke

This recent Newsweek article, Sartre, Meet Sarkozy, mentions that the new French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a self-proclaimed man-for-the-common-man, was unsure how to pronounce "Rainer Maria Rilke." (Not an uncommon problem, but interesting to note an occurrence of Rilke's name in the realm of national politics and major media. Incidentally, it's "R─źner Maria Reelk-uh").

"The acclaimed novelist and playwright Yasmina Reza (best known, perhaps, for her play "Art") was allowed to follow [Sarkozy] throughout the campaign and write an unexpurgated book about it. Even if she were to massacre him, he said, he'd come out of it with his reputation enhanced. Now a best seller, Reza's "L'Aube le Soir ou la Nuit" is not always complimentary. (In one passage, Sarkozy calls Reza just before a big speech and asks her how to pronounce the last name of the great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. She says he has it right. He's not sure and drops the name altogether.) But Sarkozy was correct about the overall effect of the book. It makes him look like a down-to-earth man of action even as it associates him with a French intellectual world he eschews: a neat trick indeed."

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