"The presumption of a deep link between Rilke's art and the fount of psychology can draw upon biographical--as well as theoretical and textual--evidence. Rilke's life and work were, from the beginning, ineluctably entwined with intellectual historical developments that signaled the surfacing of psyche, the (re)emerging of the soul to consciousness. Born in the same year (1875) as the great Godfather of archetypal psychology, Carl Jung, Rilke's own formative years coincided with those of the professional field of psychology itself. In 1897, when he met Lou Salomé (who was later to become a colleague and confidante of Freud), Rilke encountered, through her, ideas about psychology, religion, and art that revolutionized his thinking." (from the introduction)
Taking James Hillman's notion of "soul history" to heart, Rilke: A Soul History tells the inner story of Rilke's literary career, tracing, step-by-step, the mythopoetic journey inscribed in the interweaving lines of the poet's life and art.
Artfully blending biography with in-depth analyses of Rilke's poetry and prose (from his little-known Visions of Christ through the Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus), the lively and engaging narrative draws upon not only Hillman's archetypal psychology but also Plato and Petrarch, Apuleius and Augustine, Ibn 'Arabi and Lou Andreas-Salomé, as it unfolds the poet-seer's compelling vision of the nature and destiny of the human soul--a vision as timely as it is timeless.