Books: Putting Time on Ice

LETTERS FROM ICELAND by W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice. 253 pages. Random House. $7.50.

Even a tourist-class guidebook—the kind written in hoked-up feature writer's prose—furnishes vicarious travel. Letters from Iceland is a first-class VIP travel book written by two poets; it provides not only the usual armchair transport but also a vicarious voyage into the past.

The period is 1936, and those who read this minor masterpiece for the first time will be given a lively sense of what it was like to be young in that year and possessed of an eloquent dread...

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