Thursday, June 15, 2006
Rodin and Eve
I read the King James version of the Bible. That is is the only version I have ever read and it is frankly the only version I am interested in reading. I like the language and the images, the metaphors and the tropes. So when I started my cycle on Adam and Eve I turned to the Bible that I have carried since I was twelve years old to review the chronology of the story.
In the latest poem in my cycle, Eve becomes pregnant. The Biblical chronology is that first they are expelled from the Garden and then in Genesis 4:1: Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, 'With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.'
In my version Eve watches the animals and wonders why they are alone. When Adam is asleep, she initiates their mating and her plan to increase their numbers. However, later, when she is afraid she praises the Lord for her pregnancy, hoping that he will protect her.
In imagining Eve's pregnancy I studied several artists's rendition of the event and I found Rodin's unfinished sculpture, entitled Eve, the most interesting. I was happy to learn through reading Rilke that the model for Eve was pregnant at the time.
Rodin confided to Dujardin-Beaumetz: Without knowing why, I saw my model changing. I modified my contours, naively following the successive transformations of ever-amplifying forms. One day, I learned that she was pregnant; then I understood. The contours of the belly had hardly changed, but you can see the sincerity with which I copied nature in looking at the muscles of the loins and sides. It certainly hadn't occurred to me to take a pregnant woman as a model for Eve; an accident - happy for me - gave her to me and it aided the character of the figure singularly. But soon, becoming more sensitive, my model found the studio too cold; she came less frequently, then not at all. That is why my Eve is unfinished(H. Dujardin-Beaumetz, Entretiens avec Rodin, 1913)