Books: Habitations of Death

O THE CHIMNEYS by Nelly Sachs. 387 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $7.50.

The neutrality of Sweden in war is much simpler to comprehend than the delicate balancing act that it practices in world literature. The Swedish Academy hands out the Nobel Prize with a fine impartiality. This year a Frenchman, another time a German. Now a Russian of whom even Stalin could approve, then a Russian who cannot even show up to accept the award. And there are the obscure choices—the Icelandic novelist or the Italian poet, each known to only a handful even in his own country.*

In 1966, as far...

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