This is not really a novel at all; it's sort of a montage based roughly on the experiences of the author as a young man. Certain individual passages are riveting—like his description of Beethoven: "A man whose hearing a god had closed up, so that there might be no sounds but his own." What a fascinating way to look at the contradiction of a musician who is deaf but hears extraordinary things in his head. Rilke also writes of an illness during which certain absurd fears strike him—that a piece of thread might be as sharp as a steel needle, or that he might start screaming. I don't think I've ever read such descriptions of what it would be like to lose your grip. He has a vision that makes you less sure of your surroundings—and I find that stimulating.
— Colin Firth
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, December 10, 2013