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Handwritten is a place and space for pen and paper. We showcase things in handwriting, but also on handwriting. And so, you'll see dated letters and distant postcards alongside recent studies and typed stories. 

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An Unsayable Inscription

Brett Rawson


I can't remember the occasion, but one day my then-boyfriend Chris gave me this copy of Rainer Maria Rilke's Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke. (The Way of Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke). I'm a huge germanophone, not to mention a lover of Rilke's poetry, so the present would've wowed me without it being a weathered copy from 1954. Correction: without it being a weathered copy from 1954 typeset in German "Kurrentschrift" — the term for the beautiful script that was still standard in 20th century — along with handwritten annotations from previous owners. 

At least two people owned this book before it reached my hands--on the inside cover there is an address sticker and small inscription from a Dr. Spiros Valentinus with an address in Frankurt Am Mein in Germany. The page just before the title page also includes a handwritten dedication in looser and larger felt penmanship that says "Eine kleine Erinnerung an unsern Abscheid am 4. November 1954. Möge Dir dieses Buch scheid bedeuten, wie es mir gibt. Deine, Inge." (Translation: "A small memory from our departure on November 4, 1954. May this book mean as much to you as it does to me. Sincerely, Inge")

I'm not sure which former owner pasted in the film review from an old German newspaper, but it required careful craftmanship, with columns clipped and formatted to fold out of the book in printed order, accordion-style. Apparently the clipping comes from "Main Post", Saturday December 7, 1955, and discusses the film adaptation of this book. 

Should anyone else get a hold of this book after me, they'll notice a third owner by virtue of Chris's slight alteration of the dedication page. He crossed out the "e" in "Deine" to indicate the masculine possessive: yours, and wrote in his name over poor Inge's, to indicate the gift was now for me.