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The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief, and Transformation

Rainer Maria Rilke

From the writer of the classic Letters to a Young Poet, reflections on grief and loss, collected and published here in one volume for the first time.

“A great poet’s reflections on our greatest mystery.”—Billy Collins

Gleaned from Rainer Maria Rilke’s voluminous, never-before-translated letters to bereaved friends and acquaintances, The Dark Interval is a profound vision of the mourning process and a meditation on death’s place in our lives. Following the format of Letters to a Young Poet, this book arranges Rilke’s letters into an uninterrupted sequence, showcasing the full range of the great author’s thoughts on death and dying, as well as his sensitive and moving expressions of consolation and condolence.

Presented with care and authority by master translator Ulrich Baer, The Dark Interval is a literary treasure, an indispensable resource for anyone searching for solace, comfort, and meaning in a time of grief.

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110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11

In 110 Stories, Ulrich Baer has gathered a multi-hued range of voices that convey, with vivid immediacy and heightened imagination, the shock and loss suffered in September. From a stunning lineup of 110 renowned and emerging writers—including Paul Auster, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Edwidge Danticat, Vivian Gornick, Phillip Lopate, Dennis Nurkse, Melvin Bukiet, Susan Wheeler—these stories give readers not so much an analysis of what happened as the very shape and texture of a city in crisis, what it felt like to be here, the external and internal damage that the city and its inhabitants absorbed in the space and the aftermath of a few unforgettable hours. As A.M. Homes says in one of the book's eyewitness accounts, "There is no place to put this experience, no folder in the mental hard drive that says, 'catastrophe.' It is not something that you want to remember, not something that you want to forget." This collection testifies to the power of poetry and storytelling to preserve and give meaning to what seems overwhelming. It showcases the literary imagination in its capacity to gauge the impact of 9/11 on how we view the world.

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Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma

In this remarkable contribution to photographic criticism and psychoanalytic literature, Ulrich Baer traces the hitherto overlooked connection between the experience of trauma and the photographic image. Instead of treating trauma as a photographic "theme," Baer examines the striking parallel between those moments arrested mechanically by photography and those arrested experientially by the traumatized psyche -- moments that bypass normal cognition and memory. Taking as points of departure Charcot's images of hysteria and Freud's suggestion that the unconscious is structured like a camera, Baer shows how the invention of photography and the emergence of the modern category of "trauma" intersect. Drawing on recent work in the field of trauma studies, he shows how experiences that are inherently split between their occurrence and their remembrance might register in and as photographic images.

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We Are But A Moment

We Are But A Moment takes the reader on a brisk tour of the globe that vividly imagines the inescapable crisis of the near future posed by overpopulation, diminishing natural resources, climate change, species extinction, and economic tumult. It is 2025, and a young White House aide, Aleks, finds himself locked up in quarantine when he tested positive after a routine briefing from a hotspot. Thus temporarily removed from the fast-paced world of politics, Aleks recounts how our much-admired female president Lucia Jackson became a globally revered leader who unites much of the world under the environmental banner. Aleks’s position as a trusted environmental advisor to the president gives him a privileged insider’s view into the political maneuvering - and the need for compromises - that have led to U.S. global dominance. What Aleks finally uncovers confronts the reader with the moral choices we all have to make in our precarious times. Philosophical rather than prescriptive, We Are But A Moment explores how we live and die in the 21st century, what we consume, how we inhabit our world, and whether we can all live, and love, in the future.

Read an excerpt from this book

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Beggar's Chicken: Stories From Shanghai

An exciting and moving collection of stories, this book introduces denizens of the wildly disparate worlds populating China's most vibrant city: Shanghai. Different and unique, these spirited stories are united by the universal longing to feel connected, to be known, and to love and be loved. Told with tenderness and emotional acuity, it delves deep into the hearts and minds of everyday individuals caught up in China's great transformation.

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The Rilke Alphabet


Ulrich Baer's The Rilke Alphabet will surprise and delight established fans of Rilke, intrigue newcomers, and convince all readers of the power of poetry to penetrate the mysteries and confusion of our world.

The enduring power of Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry rests with his claim that all we need for a better life on earth is already given to us, in the here and now. In twenty-six engaging and accessible essays, Ulrich Baer's The Rilke Alphabet examines this promise by one of the greatest poets in any tradition that even the smallest overlooked word may unlock life's mysteries to us. Fueled by an unerring passion and indeed love for Rilke's poetry, Baer examines twenty-six words that are not only unexpected but also problematic, controversial, and even scandalous in Rilke's work. In twenty-six mesmerizing essays that eschew jargon and teutonic learnedness for the pleasures and risks of unflinchingly engaging with a great artist's genius, Baer sheds new light on Rilke's politics, his creative process, and his deepest and enduring thoughts about life, art, politics, sexuality, love, and death.

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The Claims of Literature: A Shoshana Felman Reader

Shoshana Felman ranks as one of the most influential literary critics of the past five decades. Her work has inspired and shaped such divergent fields as psychoanalytic criticism, deconstruction, speech-act theory and performance studies, feminist and gender studies, trauma studies, and critical legal studies. Shoshana Felman has not only influenced these fields: her work has opened channels of communication between them. In all of her work Felman charts a way for literary critics to address the ways in which texts have real effects in the world and how our quest for meaning is transformed in the encounter with the texts that hold such a promise.The present collection gathers the most exemplary and influential essays from Felman's oeuvre, including articles previously untranslated into English. The Claims of Literature also includes responses to Felman's work by leading contemporary theorists, including Stanley Cavell, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Cathy Caruth, Juliet Mitchell, Winfried Menninghaus, and Austin Sarat. It concludes with a section on Felman as a teacher, giving transcripts of two of her classes, one at Yale in September 2001, the other at Emory in December 2004.

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Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan

In a bold reassessment, this book analyzes the works of Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan, two poets who frame our sense of modern poetry and define the beginning and end of modernity itself. The two poets share a feature that seems to block their placement in such an easy chronological or historical scheme: each accounts for an experience that will not fully enter memory, but dissipates in the mind in the form of trauma, fragments, and shock. While Baudelaire, as Paul Valéry was the first to show, explores the trauma of the minute personal shocks of everyday existence in modern life, Celan engages with the catastrophic magnitude of the Holocaust and how it has altered our understanding of history. Can we relate the shocks registered in Baudelaire's poems to the historical horror addressed in Celan's work without denying either the singularity of suffering and loss or the uniqueness of the historical event of the Shoah?

Drawing on trauma studies and Holocaust research, Remnants of Song challenges existing interpretations of Baudelaire and Celan by constantly holding in view both the aesthetic dimension of their works and their historical import. The author demonstrates that the act of engaging with a poem on its own terms may serve as an important model for an ethical response to the radical experiences of trauma. Answering Adorno's famous dictum that there can be no poetry after Auschwitz, he shows that Celan's poetry continues to posit its own truth by drawing on Baudelaire as a precedent—yet it does so in ways that have little to do with conventional understandings of history.