For lovers of poetry and art, an excellent look at two men of incredible talent—and how they handled it.

YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR LIFE

THE STORY OF RAINER MARIA RILKE AND AUGUSTE RODIN

An exploration of “two artists fumbling through the desultory streets of Paris, finding their paths to mastery.”

In 1902, living near the artist colony in Worpswede, Germany, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) and his wife, Clara Westhoff, had a new child when Rilke received a commission to write a monograph on Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Rilke left his family and traveled to Paris to meet the man for whose art he had a near-religious devotion. In Rodin, he expected to find a muse, a master, and a savior. He asked, “how should one live?” When Rodin replied, “work, always work,” Rilke took it as gospel, leading a mostly solitary life and devoting himself to his poetry. He sacrificed his family for his art; never mind that his wife was a talented sculptor. Rodin and Rilke established an immediate rapport, and the artist extended an open invitation to the poet. It was not an easy trek, but the monograph turned out to be a wonderful philosophy of creativity. Art Newspaper correspondent Corbett’s deep knowledge of her subjects accessibly reveals the strong connections—and various differences—between the two men. Rodin never questioned why he was an artist, unlike the metaphysical Rilke. Rodin’s influence on Rilke drove him to seek the maturity he was lacking for his craft. Rilke learned to empathize with inanimate objects and to appreciate abstractions, making his poetry sculpturally composed. Rilke also became Rodin’s secretary, living in the artist’s home until Rodin overreacted to what perhaps was only an overstep by Rilke in responding to a patron’s letter. Rodin fired him on the spot, and the two didn’t speak for months. That period was just what Rilke needed, as he realized that Rodin cast a diminishing shadow and that “art too is only a living.”

For lovers of poetry and art, an excellent look at two men of incredible talent—and how they handled it.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24505-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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