Rainer Marie Rilke wrote his only novel, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, 1930, 1958), in Paris in 1910. It left him emotionally drained and unable to write much in the ensuing years. He traveled to North Africa and Egypt, then to Italy and Spain. From Toledo, where he studied the art of El Greco (1541-1614), Rilke moved further south for the winter to Ronda. It was there that he wrote “The Raising of Lazarus.” Surrounded by beautiful landscape, he enjoyed six weeks of prolific writing in early 1913. The poems he wrote in Ronda are among his best but were not published together during his lifetime. Rilke had come to the conclusion that only cohesive groups of poems should be published, and he was already working on his Duineser Elegien (1923; Duino Elegies, 1930) at the time, which would eventually become a cycle of ten complex poems. In June of 1913, he would publish his cycle on the life of Mary, Das Marienleben (The Life of the Virgin Mary, 1951), which he had written in January of 1912.
Rilke was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, and much of his poetry shows a deep Christian influence. Das Stunden-Buch (The Book of Hours, 1941) was a major early work, written in 1899, 1901, and 1903 and published for Christmas of 1905. Its three books, Vom mönchischen Leben (Monastic Life), Von der Pilgerschaft...
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