Auguste Rodin by Rainer Maria Rilke

Sculptor Auguste Rodin was fortunate to have as his secretary Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the most sensitive poets of our time. These two pieces discussing Rodin’s work and development as an artist are as revealing of Rilke as they are of his subject. Written in 1902 and 1907, these essays mark the entry of the poet into the world of letters. Rilke’s description of Rodin sheds light on the profound psychic connection between the two great artists, both masters of giving visible life to the invisible.

Auguste Rodin by Rainer Maria Rilke


Translated from the German by Daniel Slager. Introduction by William Gass.


This is the paperback version of the original hardcover edition published by Archipelago. It does not include the photographs by Michael Eastman. 


Auguste Rodin
March 2020
152 pages
paperback ($14.95) | ebook ($4.95)
biography | art | essay 
4" x 6" 


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Rodin was at times a disturbingly bombastic artist—while his Gates of Hell may be the work of a genius, it is also pure kitsch—but in the years just after 1900, when Rilke got to know him, the avant-garde was still inclined to embrace Rodin as a rough-hewn visionary, a man in whose studio, as Rilke wrote, "everything was becoming, but nothing was in a hurry." For Rilke, both Rodin and Cézanne suggested, through the very physicality of their labors, a route beyond fin-de-siècle preciosity. Rilke discovered in Rodin a man who was utterly committed to the materiality of the artistic vocation. Rodin taught Rilke to make his feelings concrete.

     — Ruth Franklin


Auguste Rodin offers a fresh look at an unlikely mentorship.

     — The New York Times Book Review


Publicity, News, and Reviews of the hardcover edition

The New York Times Book Review
The Christian Science Monitor
The New Republic
The Bloomsbury Review


About Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke was a poet and novelist, well known for his works Duino Elegies, Sonnets to Orpheus, and Letters to a Young Poet. His writing has been described as highly lyrical and mystical. In 1905-1906 he was Auguste Rodin’s personal secretary. 


About Daniel Slager

Daniel Slager is the Publisher and CEO of Milkweed Editions. He is also a widely published translator from the German. His translations of work by contemporary writers, such as Marcel Beyer, Durs Gruenbein, Felicitas Hoppe, and Terezia Mora, marked their first publications in English. In 2005, he was awarded the American Translator Association’s Ungar German Translation Award for his rendering of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Auguste Rodin.


About William Gass

William Gass (The Tunnel, Omensetter’s Luck, and Reading Rilke) received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, a Lannan Lifetime Achievement award, the Pen-Nabokov Prize, and a gold medal for fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.



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