RAINER MARIA RILKE: The Years in Switzerland by J. R. von Salis

RAINER MARIA RILKE: The Years in Switzerland

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Originally unveiled in Europe in the late '30's, reprinted in England during the early '50's, and now for the first time published here, this is one of the notable studies, though somewhat geographically restricted. Since the style is sympathetic and straightforward, the understanding intuitive and illuminating, and since moreover Rilke critiques are shamefully scant on these shores (he is, after all, the century's greatest German poet) -- the volume should be considered a must for all libraries. The author knew his subject personally, thus intimacy and scholarship are at play, and they blend extremely well. Rilke went to Switzerland in 1919, after a depression brought on by the war, and remained there till his death. These years of self-imposed exile proved to be his crowning experience. At Castle Muzot in Valais, in a tumultuous burst of activity, he completed the Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus. Rilke was above all a poet who lived his vocation, a transformer of the interior world, an endurer of passionate private beliefs. Linked with many he was essentially solitary, and romantic love, which he considered part of man's tragic nature, he sought to transcend through an angelic apprehension of the world, of God. Placed against the modern temper, of people like Valery and Gide, who were his friends and are interestingly commented upon here, Rilke was and still is an anomaly. Kierkegaard's tombstone epitaph says ""That Individual""; it could be Rilke's as well.

Publisher: Univ. of California Press