When my book was a work-in-progress, I was privileged to be invited to give talks to the members of the Rilke Gesellschaft. As my knowledge of German was rudimentary, a bilingual friend translated the English sentences which I read from the manuscript into German.
One of the memorable events was a conference at the Evangelische Akademie Bad Boll in 2008 on Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Valery. I was involved in a workshop on Rilke, Valery and his mistress Catherine Pozzi.
I had contrasted the two couples as the antithesis of each other. Rilke and Elisabeth Klossowska as the great passion like Abelard and Heloise while Valery and Pozzi opted for a more modern interpretation. They looked upon their relationship as a fusion of two light atoms to create a heavier third, energy-rich.
The highlight during this period was to be asked to contribute to Rilkes Welt: Festschrift For August Stahl on his 75th birthday, the renowned Rilke scholar.
Rilkes Welt (Peter Lang 2009) encompasses Rilke’s concept of ‘world’, his inclusion of ‘world’, the literary design and its reception are the focus of this volume of essays. In around 50 contributions by international literary scholars and Rilke researchers, it presents the many facets in the life and work of the European poet from Prague and thus not only gives an impression of Rilke’s work, but also of its importance for literary and cultural history.
The occasion of the publication was the birthday of August Stahl, his literary work and personal commitment to the development, dissemination and understanding of Rilke – far beyond his work as the then President of the International Rilke Society – of Rilke researchers, Rilke readers and Rilke lovers is recognized.
For this reason, a list of the writings related to Rilke by August Stahl concludes the anthology, which aims to open up many dimensions of Rilke’s ‘world’.