Letters on Cezanne

Letters on Cezanne

by Rainer Maria Rilke, David Rainer 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

From the Publisher

“The greatness of Cezanne could be conveyed only by an artist equally great.” —Howard Moss, The New Yorker
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
These letters to his wife were written by Rilke on a sojourn to Paris in 1907, where he found himself drawn to the Grand Palais every day to see a posthumous exhibit of Cezanne's paintings, staged one year after the French painter's death. Many of the letters are included in day-by-day succession, as Rilke outlines his deep affinity to Cezanne, as well as to van Gogh, in exquisite detail. Agee succeeds in capturing Rilke's instinct for language; we see the painters through Rilke's eyes as dedicated and committed to making paintings that stretch the viewer's imagination and capacity for devotion. This slender volume lacks illustrations, which would have been useful. Some of these letters appeared in Rilke's later masterwork, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (first published in English in 1952). Saying as much about Rilke as it does about Cezanne, this new volume is particularly suited to literature collections containing other works by Rilke and may be of interest in art schools and public libraries where there is an interest in Cezanne and van Gogh.-Ellen Bates, New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780865476394
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
09/15/2002
Edition description:
Second Edition
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
607,508
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.18(h) x 0.32(d)

Read an Excerpt

Letters on Cézanne


By Rainer Maria Rilke

North Point Press

Copyright © 2002 Rainer Maria Rilke
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780865476394

Letters On Cezanne
HÔTEL DU QUAI VOLTAIRE, MONDAY, JUNE 3, 1907... seeing and working--how different they are here. Everywhere else you see, and think: later--. Here they're almost one and the same. You're back again:1 that's not strange, not remarkable, not striking; it's not even a celebration; for a celebration would already be an interruption. But this here takes you and goes further with you and goes with you to everything and right through everything, through small things and great. Everything that was rearranges itself, lines up in formation, as if someone were standing there giving orders; and whatever is present is utterly and urgently present, as if prostrate on its knees and praying for you ...Translation copyright © 1985, 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Continues...

Excerpted from Letters on Cézanne by Rainer Maria Rilke Copyright © 2002 by Rainer Maria Rilke. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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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