The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, featuring Egon Schiele

The forthcoming Penguin Classics edition of Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, originally announced for 2008, is finally coming out this Spring/Summer. Curiously, as Gallimard did with their Folio Classique edition of the same book (1991), Penguin is also going with an Egon Schiele reproduction to illustrate the cover. Coincidence? I think not; despite the 18-year interval separating the two publications, this seems to be a case of great minds (or rather great publishers) thinking alike…



~ by Thomas on 2009-Feb-8.

9 Responses to “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, featuring Egon Schiele”

  1. Well, Schiele is very well known (and loved) by art lovers & designers but has never quite reached the status of Gustav Klimt in the mind of the public. If only Schiele had lived a little longer…

  2. So what do you think of the cover of the edition that I have – the U.S. Vintage edition seen here:

    • Dear Maylin Scott,

      I couldn’t help noticing that your comment seems to have been sent from IP address, part of a range of addresses belonging to the North American operations of Random House, and more specifically to I also couldn’t help noticing that, in addition to your bringing Random House into the conversation here, your previous comment on my personal blog was also related to a Random House title. Nor has it escaped my notice that your own blog has a propensity to focus mostly, although (and this is the clever bit) not exclusively, on titles published and distributed by Random House. Today’s post about a Chatto & Windus (a.k.a. Random House UK) title is no exception.

      Now, I may be just a simple prairie boy, still innocent in the ways of the world, but this all seems a bit dodgy to me. Could it be that Bertelsmann AG is trying to influence me in a sneaky, underhand way? I’m just going to come out and say it: on nous prend vraiment pour des cons ! I really wish Random House would spend more time doing what they’re supposed to be doing, i.e. publishing and distributing books (why does it always take a minimum of ten weeks when you order one of their UK titles?), rather than having their staff blog and comment about their titles while pretending to be neutral. Or at the very least, they should hire me to do it, as I would at least do a better job of covering it up. Seriously, we had an event with a Random House author a couple of weeks ago, and it ended up being a huge cock-up, with the book having been declared ‘out of stock indefinitely with no reprint date’ by Random House, a few short months after its publication, and the few copies that they were eventually able to track down being sent to the wrong address. In a few weeks, we’ll be doing a major event with another Random House author that you mention in your Spring 2009 fiction roundup and, to be honest, I really do fear the worst…



  3. Oh dear, I was afraid something like this would happen – I know you have to have e-mails on comments (even though they are not published) but that’s why I have 2 different blogs – honestly, I’m not trying to be subversive; I’m just technologically naive, perhaps. The Dewey Divas blog is me as a Random House Library rep – I’m pretty honest about the books I recommend coming from Random House as those are the ones I read and promote as a Dewey Diva although I certainly have blogged about books from other publishers. Let’s face it – Random House is huge – a lot of the books I read of course tend to come from them, but I only blog about the ones I’ve either read and loved myself, or those that look interesting to me and that I would read had I infinite time. I have nothing to do with author events or shipping books from the U.K. (many come by ship, which is why they take so long). I’m sorry if my comment on the Vintage cover of the Rilke looked like a pitch for the book – I was genuinely interested in your opinion as it didn’t use a Schiele image and you often compare different editions on your blog.

    My personal blog is just that – my own personal thoughts and tastes, which is why I use blithe spirit as a name. Again, many books that I blog about will be Random House Books (we publish thousands a year – the odds are, even if I didn’t work for the company there would still be comments on them), but I tend to use that blog to write about books mostly from other publishers or talk about my other interests. One of these is in Virginia Woolf, (the blog name is in tribute to her!) hence the post on the new collection of essays – I can’t help it if they are published by Random House. Hey, I used to be an independent bookseller too – my personal blog is my way of still fictiously “selling” what I would if I had a dream bookstore. That’s all. Sorry if you were offended. I’ll be a lot more careful with the comments from now on. I could mention that names/e-mail addresses aren’t supposed to be published, so you’ve kinda of acted in bad faith, but the internet is a user-beware tool so everything is fair game I guess.

    • Re-reading my comment in the light of day, I will admit that the tone I used to express my indignation was perhaps a bit strong. For that I apologise.

      The references to various other Random House problems were made to enhance what I perceived to be the absurdity of the situation (i.e. Random House commenting on blogs when it could be doing a better job on the publishing/distribution side), and not because I hold you personally responsible for them. Also, where the e-mail address is concerned, I would point out that I didn’t publish the one that you used to post your comment, but rather the one that is already published on Dewey Divas and any number of other websites.

      Looking at things from my point of view, I got home after midnight and found another comment sent from within the Random House network, once again highlighting a Random House title without aknowledging the author’s association with Random House. I simply couldn’t resist pointing out what I considered to be a lack of transparency, especially in light of the recent Belkin Affair. After all, when you post a comment from within the internal Random House network in the middle of a weekday, pointing out a Random House title in the context of a post that had nothing to do with Random House, it can appear as if you’re promoting Random House on third-party blogs as part of your job. At the very least, you can see how I came to that conclusion.

      If, however, as you say, I’ve got it all wrong, then I respectfully withdraw the allegation made in my previous comment, and hope that we can continue to interact here and elsewhere in a spirit of openness and transparency.



  4. Thank you for the apology. I think an important thing to note is that many people in publishing have personal blogs as well (for christ sakes, we all went into the industry because we’re huge readers and like to chat about books) probably many of your readers work in publishing – after all, if you work in the industry, you’re going to be interested in book cover design. But we’re all individual readers too. I think if you want to encourage comments on your blog and discussion about your ideas, then you will have to get over this idea that we’re all trying to sell you something. I use my work laptop often at home for internet use because it’s faster than my home computer at times, or I surf the internet during my lunch break when I’m at work (again, I’m not as techonolgically savvy as you, but that’s maybe why you think the comments are coming from the company, when they are personal – something to do with the server maybe? Which thousands of Bertlesman employees use by the way) But honestly, none of us have it in our job descriptions, or are instructed to go commenting specifically about our books on people’s blogs in order to increase sales. Trust me, we all have other things to do. Most publishers have their own blogs, clearly marked, and of course staff are encouraged to write about books they’ve read and enjoyed on those – readers can of course take those recommendations with a grain of salt if they like. My experience among my colleagues is that none of us will blog about something we don’t genuinely like or are interested in. I read a lot of blogs by people who I know work for publishers – and especially when you work for large publishers there are just so many darn books every year that so many good reads fall between the cracks – I’ve gotten so many great reading recommendations from other publishing types about yes, their books, but books I’d never have found out about otherwise because they aren’t reviewed or bestsellers. Like any blog, I use my judgement as a reader as to whether I trust the recommendation, It occurs to me to wonder what you would have written had I commented that I didn’t like the new Penguin cover – would I then be accused of obviously being biased because it was an edition from a “rival” company? My comment was completely neutral, asking for your opinion, not “pushing” the Random edition – this is a book that is decades old after all! What annoyed me about your letter was that I hadn’t commented using my “work” i.e real name, but my personal blog name. You could have addressed the letter to blithe spirit and still gotten the point across without using my real name, which again, you only could have gotten from taking the private information one needs to make a comment (and I used a private e-mail address for that, not my work address – you couldn’t have made the connection unless you took the private information and googled me).But it’s actually taught me a good lesson – one can never be too careful on the internet and you are taking a chance everytime you supply personal information. I think you broke the trust between a blogger and a reader who comments, but again, it re-enforces that one has to be more aware. Can I respectfully suggest however, that if in future ,comments from publishing staff/servers annoy you that you either remove your comment section from the blog, or just delete them if you truly think someone is trying to sell you something. But if you blog about an author like Jonathan Coe, who is one of my favourites, don’t get offended if someone comments in mutual enthusiasm even if they do work for the publisher- what on earth would my company gain from it? You’re already a fan. You’ve already bought the books. I meet so many people who have never heard of Coe, so yes, I get excited when I meet another fan. Really, that’s all it is.

    • Well, there it is then. Mea culpa. Es tut mir Leid. Je suis désolé. I’m sorry. Henceforth, I will try to keep the paranoid rants to a minimum.

  5. What a beautiful exchange of words. Two passionate (about books and I guess, honesty, morality and ethics) people trading words, opinions and perhaps, reputations(?) on a mutually converging subject. Now stop arguing and play nice or I will not allow you tomplay together again.

    But seriously, I am inspired by this exchange, this misunderstanding, this set of reactions. Is this not what the blogosphere was made for?

  6. I believe this web site has got some real excellent info for everyone : D.

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