Books: Santa Claus of Loneliness

RAINER MARIA RILKE, THE YEARS IN SWITZERLAND by J. R. von Salts, translated by N. K. Cruickshank. 321 pages. University of California. $7.50.

"The Santa Claus of loneliness" was W. H. Auden's tag for his fellow poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke did not look like Santa Claus—more like the man who shot him. Beneath a nobly domed forehead, pale eyes glared out from a meanly featured face. This repellent countenance would on rare occasions be relieved by an unpleasant smile. Yet for all his unprepossessing appearance, he had the pride of Lucifer himself. He insisted on his aristocratic descent.

Christianity may call all...

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