I would like to put in a word for Farrol Kahn’s superb novel, [working title] THE SWISS LOVERS, about the Swiss period of Rilke’s life. It is a large book that lends the subject a truly Proustian perspective It does so particularly through its language, a remarkable feat of using the English language to recreate the work of a German poet–as well as the entire world of the first quarter of the 20th century-. It stirs and sustains the reader ‘s involvement throughout. In fact, I believe that it may become one of the more significant works in our time. I’ve had (and am having) my own dance with Rilke, but this is not a disguised biography but the presentation in a complex modern novel of a life and an epoch in Western history before and immediately after World War I: the breakup and (temporary) reconstitution of our world. The animation of Rilke, changing with and against this social perspective is carried out brilliantly.

I’m aware of the fact that this sounds like so much hyperbole but it is impersonal. I don’t know this author very well but I’ve come to know him particularly through reading this work which is skilfully reconstructed as a life. It begins at the point when Rilke met the woman who, above all his many love relationships, was his most incisive inspiration during the final years of his life. From this vantage point Farrol Kahn radiates outward-back to Rilke’s origins and forward to his destiny and early death.

I believe that both the experimental approach of this novel and its panoramic view of life in the early twentieth century may attract a following of Rilke enthusiasts and beyond.

Ralph Freedman

Author of Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke

Posted in Rilke.