William H. Gass: Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt, 2004

Broadcast on Bookworm

Stephen Schenkenberg
May 4, 2014 · 13 min read
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For more information, visit http://archipelagobooks.org/book/auguste-rodin/

“This is what Rodin was teaching Rilke—that in order to draw a person in a moment, you had to know the whole thing.”

Silverblatt: One of the things that I love when I read, in order, your essays on Rilke—and you’ve been writing about him for years now—is the sense of Rilke becomes profound, and in one of the newest essays, which accompanies a beautiful new book, Auguste Rodin—it’s a retranslation of the two monographs on Rodin, early and late, that Rilke wrote—published by Archipelago Books. They’re a wonderful new press, and I want to commend them, not only for doing this book, but for making it so beautiful; for incorporating photographs by Michael Eastman of the Rodin sculptures; and for asking Gass for an introduction. The Rilke monograph is almost famous for its politeness. It’s the part of Rilke that is courting. He wants, in a sense, to be accepted by Rodin and that group. What Gass finds in the notebooks kept at the same time is that another phase of Rilke is beginning—his response to his extraordinary poverty in Paris. And his sense then—this is the culminating thrill of the essay—that we see in the planes of Rodin’s sculpture, the formation in space of different planes of identity. That the Rilke who’s busy being polite, the Rilke who’s being upbraided by Paris, by bohemian culture, that these are starting to be reflected in the planes of a statue, in the planes of a different kind of sentence; a different kind of line of verse that’s able to negotiate, as if it’s an uncoiling dragon and all its scales are catching light as it uncoils; a whole continuum of simultaneous emotion.

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Rodin photograph by Michael Eastman. From http://www.amazon.com/Auguste-Rodin-Rainer-Maria-Rilke/dp/097286925
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Rodin photograph by Michael Eastman. From http://www.amazon.com/Auguste-Rodin-Rainer-Maria-Rilke/dp/097286925

The Ear’s Mouth Must Move — Essential Interviews of William H. Gass

Edited by Stephen Schenkenberg, 2014 | Cover photographs by…

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