In the Image of Orpheus
Rilke - A Soul History
by Daniel Polikoff
In the Image of Orpheus 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. Blending biography with in-depth analyses of Rilke’s poetry and prose (from his little-known Visions of Christ through the Sonnets to Orpheus), the lively narrative draws upon Hillman and Jung, Plato and Petrarch, Apuleius, Ibn Arabi and Lou Andreas-Salomé, as it unfolds the poet-seer’s vision of the nature and destiny of the human soul—a vision as timely as it is timeless.
“A profound book….The splendid style of the writing, the breadth of cultural erudition, the coherence of the biographical narrative all contribute, but these reflect something of larger import. By focusing the powerful lens of depth psychology on Rilke’s life and work, In the Image of Orpheus carries us deeper into the interior of the poet’s imaginative landscape than ever before. It is difficult to conceive of a study that might bring greater psychological subtlety and spiritual insight to the evolution of this deep-souled poet. One ends with new appreciation of both the power of art in forging a soul, and the centrality of the soul in the creation of great art.”
-Richard Tarnas, author of The Passion of the Western Mind and Cosmos and Psyche
“Equal parts incisive literary criticism and powerful spiritual reflection….Meticulously charting the progress of Rilke’s remarkable and complex poetic achievement, Polikoff traces also Rilke’s passage through a life’s and the soul’s passions….A book for any and every admirer of Rilke’s poetry.”
-David St. John, University of Southern California
Poet, translator, and independent scholar Daniel Polikoff received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University and his Diploma in Waldorf Education from Rudolf Steiner College. In addition to work in numerous literary journals and anthologies, he has published two collections of poetry (Dragon Ship and The Hands of Stars) as well as Parzival/Gawain: Two Plays, his edited translation of a dramatic version of the Grail legend. Dr. Polikoff has taught literature in Waldorf schools and shared his passion for Rilke in a wide variety of venues, including the Festival of Archetypal Psychology at Notre Dame (where the idea for In the Image of Orpheus was born); the San Francisco Jung Society; and seminars in literary circles. He resides with his wife Monika and two children in the San Francisco Bay area.