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JL/A                     MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

autobiographical interest in the individual stories of A?u Leben bin
Das Christ kind was written in 1893, the date of the appearance of
Hauptmann's Hanne/e; it is the tale of a little girl ill-treated by her
stepmother; she dies in hospital after being found in the snow in
the forest, where she has taken a couple of candles and other trifles
to offer to the stone image of the Virgin. Here we have, as in
Hannele, a blending of raw Armekutepoesie with the mystic lights
of a child's dreaming as she dies. Einig (1897) is a handling of the
son-mother motif which is so poignant in Rilke's own life. The
mother's name in the tale is Sophie - the name (Thia' for short)
of Rilke's own mother. When she asks her son if he does not love
the recollection of his childhood he replies: 'Oja. Ich Hebe sie, m
man eine L,uge liebt, durch die man glucklich wird. . . Ich Hebe alle Wege,
welche du mich gefuhrt hast^ diese leisen^ lautlosen Wege urns Leben herum
^u deinem Gott? Like Ibsen's Oswald this young man is dying with
an illness he owes to his father. Interesting in the style of Am
Leben bin is the appearance of Rilkean onomatopoeia: thus (in Das
Christkind) a symphony in i: 'Die Stimmen aus Each und Kraut ver~
slckern in dem Dunstmeer^ und nur das Wimmern mndgequdlter Wipfel
^ttert durch den einsamen Tann*; and on the same page a play on a
with interior rhyme: 'Das mondscheinfarbene ~L,icht flutete weich wie
eine an flachem Sande landmde Welle durch dm RattmS

The son-mother motif recurs in the short story Die Lefrtfen
(1902), the last of the tales collected under this title. The hero, a
lad engaged to a robust girl of peasant stock, dies of consumption:
his long line of ancestors - generals, bishops, etc. - have taken
the vigour from his blood. His mother has kept him from life.
Like Hofmannsthal's Claudio he has not lived; he complains that
his mother would have kept him from 'das Fremde, Nette, Unruhige,
das ich nicht begreife*. CO these books!' she moans. In Rilke's eyes
a man unformed by woman is left in the raw, and the natural
thing is that the mother should do the first shaping; but it is clear
that in his argument the mother tends to keep her son away from
the shock of life - and the other woman or women - that alone
would harden him for experience.

Rilke's mysticism finds its first mature expression in a volume
of short stories, Geschichten vom lieben Gott (1904) and in the verse
of Das Sfundenbuch (1905). The difference between the mysticism of
the two books is, roughly, that while in the first God, abandoned
and feeble, hiding modestly behind the cover of things, is seeking