In the Company of Rilke - Stephanie Dowrick

With Stephanie Dowrick having released a brand new book (Everyday Kindness, published this month by Allen & Unwin), it might seem odd that I am blogging about her Rilke book, which was released in Australia in 2009.

But I have my reasons. The book has just been published in America, and I think it will find a very interested audience there.
It is a complex and deeply thoughtful book, having begun its life as a doctoral dissertation. In the Company of Rilke represents a lifelong engagement with that sensitive but sometimes difficult poet. And it reads like the intellectual but spiritually-infused relationship that it is. In many ways it is more challenging than Dowrick's other books, but it rewards a careful reading. It speaks to anyone who is interested in poetry, in the expressions of human love and in the reflective possibilities of reading and writing. My own reading of the book was slow and even painstaking - it was, for me, more of an exercise in lectio divina than in the more standard consumption of text. It is in many ways a masterpiece, and will be remembered and referred to for a very long time.
Blogging about the book recently, Stephanie Dowrick wrote:

"Despite my academic training in literature and spirituality, my training as a psychotherapist, and now decades of experience as a writer of fiction and non-fiction – plus those earlier years as an innovative publisher – I took on this study of Rilke with something resembling innocence. Yet, as I write this, I realise that’s been my experience writing each of my books that I value most. Innocence and an eagerness to know more open the way for inspiration to rise – or fall – to a potent place within our own “poet’s mind”."

In the book, Dowrick treats Rilke as an intensely mystical figure, whose writing expressed a transcendent approach to life, love and the ideas of art and vocation.
Until I'd read In the Company of Rilke I'd never really read the poet, but it has caused me to investigate his work and develop something of my own obsession with him. If you want to challenge yourself and delve more deeply into the meditative possibilities of art,writing and poetry, then I can't recommend this book highly enough.
And my friends and readers in America should rush out and grab a copy now, and sample some of the very best (and most eloquent) Australian scholarship.

In the Company of Rilke is published in the USA by Tarcher


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