Letters on Cezanne

Letters on Cezanne

by Rainer Maria Rilke
     
 

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Rilke's prayerful responses to the french master's beseeching art

For a long time nothing, and then suddenly one has the right eyes.

Virtually every day in the fall of 1907, Rainer Maria Rilke returned to a Paris gallery to view a Cezanne exhibition. Nearly as frequently, he wrote dense and joyful letters to his wife, Clara Westhoff, expressing

Overview

Rilke's prayerful responses to the french master's beseeching art

For a long time nothing, and then suddenly one has the right eyes.

Virtually every day in the fall of 1907, Rainer Maria Rilke returned to a Paris gallery to view a Cezanne exhibition. Nearly as frequently, he wrote dense and joyful letters to his wife, Clara Westhoff, expressing his dismay before the paintings and his ensuing revelations about art and life.

Rilke was knowledgeable about art and had even published monographs, including a famous study of Rodin that inspired his New Poems. But Cezanne's impact on him could not be conveyed in a traditional essay. Rilke's sense of kinship with Cezanne provides a powerful and prescient undercurrent in these letters — passages from them appear verbatim in Rilke's great modernist novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Letters on Cezanne is a collection of meaningfully private responses to a radically new art.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This small volume of correspondence, written in 1907, reflects Rilke's admiration for the French painter Cezanne, who was a major influence on the poet. ``These profound letters mirror the search of a writer grappling with the most intimate questions of identity and artistic purpose,'' stated PW. (October)
Library Journal
When Rilke first discovered Cezanne's paintings in an art salon in Paris, he was moved to remark, ``all reality is on his side.'' These letters, written to his wife, Clara, are the record of Rilke's efforts to impart something of Cezanne's la realisation to his own life and work, for the painter came to represent for Rilke, the poet, that perfect unity between the creator and his art which he must strive to emulate. A few impressions of van Gogh and other artists are interwoven, but the letters are primarily concerned with Cezanne. With luminous insight, clarity, and sympathy, they reflect how experiencing Cezanne's art became a sort of artistic watershed for Rilke, af ter which he could see with the ``right eyes.'' Highly recommended for liter ary and art collections. Carol J. Lich tenberg, Washington State Univ. Lib., Pullman

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780880641074
Publisher:
Fromm International Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
10/28/1988
Pages:
98
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.44(d)

Meet the Author

Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague in 1875 and traveled throughout Europe for much of his adult life, returning frequently to Paris. There he came under the influence of the sculptor Auguste Rodin and produced much of his finest verse, most notably the two volumes of New Poems as well as the great modernist novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Among his other books of poems are The Book of Images and The Book of Hours. He lived the last years of his life in Switzerland, where he completed his two poetic masterworks, the Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus. He died of leukemia in December 1926.

Joel Agee has also translated Elias Canetti, Friedrich Dürenmatt, Gottfried Benn, and another collection of Rilke's letters, Rilke and Benvenuta: An Intimate Correspondence. He won the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his translation of Heinrich von Kleist's Penthesilea, a verse play. He is the author of Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East Germany and lives in Brooklyn.

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