In 1902, twenty-six-year-old Rainer Maria Rilke arrives in Paris to write a study of the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin, having left his wife and newborn daughter at home in the rural north of Germany. The bustling metropolis overwhelms the young poet, and the squalor of the Latin Quarter where he resides touches off a deep personal crisis. Not since Rilke's disastrous childhood has his world seemed so menacing and strange. Sorely disquieted by poverty, loneliness, quailing health, and fleets of dark memories, Rilke finds himself caught up in a powerful reckoning with his “unfinished childhood” and the tangled relationships that came from it--his wife and daughter clearly included. Spanning Western Europe from 1875 to 1917, Lost Son brings a brooding atmosphere and human complexity to an intimate, imaginative portrait of one of the most sensitive artists of his time. Rilke's odd childhood and difficult early life may have created the uncompromising determination that infuses his art. But was the moral cost too great? In this gorgeous new novel, M. Allen Cunningham brings alive the intellectual and artistic movements that shaped the 20th century and the personalities that made this history their own--from Rilke himself to the great master Rodin to the fascinating Lou Salome, mistress or confidant to Rilke, Freud and Nietzsche. The result is an exploration of the forever imperfect loyalties we face in life and the seemingly immeasurable distances that can separate life and art.
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In 1902, twenty-six-year-old Rainer Maria Rilke has received a commission to write the definitive biography of the great sculptor Auguste Rodin. Accepting the work, Rainer leaves his wife and their newborn daughter behind in rural Germany seventeen grueling travel hours away from his new residence in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris. The rustic writer is overwhelmed by the city with its affluence and poverty side by side. He feels overwhelmed as his childhood nightmares of being a stranger amidst strange people frighten him, but mostly he fears failure as a poet, as a biographer, and as a writer. His abandoned family females give him moments of concern, but they tie back to his childhood, which he needs to escape from and find with his poetry and with his writing peer and muse Lou Salome. --- This is an insightful biographical fiction of Rainer Maria Rilke, considered by many to be Germany¿s greatest twentieth century poet. The story line focuses obviously on Rilke from the opening baptism in Prague to his schism with Rodin in Paris, but also provides a discerning window into the artistic movements of Western Europe during the tumultuous first two decades of the twentieth century. The not chronological in order events lead to a more vivid astute look at the period, but also make it more difficult to follow the prime focus of the novel, the life of Rilke. This is an entertaining account of a poet whose haunting dark work makes many consider Rilke as having one foot within the competing classical and another with the modernist movements. --- Harriet Klausner