The Transcendent Artistry of a Legendary Dancer, Four Decades In

“FAME,” WROTE Rainer Maria Rilke, in 1902, “is, after all, only the sum of all the misunderstandings that gather around a new name.” The line appears at the beginning of a short book on Auguste Rodin that a 27-year-old Rilke published when the world-­famous sculptor was 63. However much we think we know about Rodin, the young poet argued, we’re wrong. And yet, Rilke goes on to say, it’s not even worth taking the time to disabuse us of our errors, “for they gathered around the name, not around the work.”

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