Synopses & Reviews
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 Rilkes 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 ithis 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. Rilkes 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 ownfrom 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.
"'Cunningham follows The Green Age of Asher Witherow (2004) with a dense novelization of the life of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. An account of Rilke's baptism gives over to a chronicle of his time in Paris, where he ruminates on life and befriends sculptor Auguste Rodin. From Rodin's residence, the narrative episodically follows Rilke from his days as a sickly military cadet and his meeting the writer Lou Andreas-Salome his muse with whom he travels widely to an interlude with Lord Chamberlain's skeleton in a crypt and eventually to the double heartbreak of Rilke's father's death and his final parting with Rodin, which inspires the poet to wall himself away behind his writer's desk. Cunningham is a talented writer, although unwelcome shifts into second-person and passages rife with adjective abuse mar this ambitious undertaking. (June)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Cunningham has taken risks, attempting to paint Rilke in the poet's own words and style, and he has succeeded in producing an offbeat and absorbing literary work." Library Journal
Spanning western Europe from 1875 to 1917 and presenting a gothic historical Paris that subverts our old assumptions regarding the City of Light, M. Allen Cunninghams new novel brings a brooding atmosphere and human complexity to an intimate and imaginative portrait of one of the most uniquely sensitive artists of his time, a poet whose odd childhood and difficult early life will both fascinate and perhaps help explain his determination to stay true to his artistic vision at almost any cost. Here is Rainer Maria Rilke in the grip of his greatest artistic struggle: life itself.
Rilkes gripping emotional drama as child, lover, husband, father, protégé, misfit soldier, and wanderer is framed by a haunted young figure, a researcher who, a century later, feels compelled to trace Rilkes itinerant footsteps and those of Rilkes fictional alter ego, the bewitched poet Malte Laurids Brigge. The result is an exploration of the forever imperfect loyalties we face in work and life, the seemingly immeasurable distances that can separate life and art, and the generational tensions between masters and admirers.
About the Author
M. Allen Cunningham is the author of the widely acclaimed novel The Green Age of Asher Witherow, a #1 Book Sense Pick. He grew up in the Diablo Valley north of San Francisco, and now resides with his wife in Portland, Oregon.